Papers of NOW officer Patricia Ireland, 1972-2005
Papers of Patricia Ireland, feminist activist, lawyer, and former president of the National Organization for Women, include correspondence, reports, legal case files, notes, and other research and printed materials regarding NOW's work for women's rights and social justice.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access is governed by the legal agreement between NOW and the Schlesinger Library. Access to folders is restricted to researchers who have the written permission of NOW for 20 years from the date of the most recent document in the folder. The following folders are closed as noted in the finding aid, as per the NOW legal agreement: #3.3, 4.2, 5.13, 5.14, 6.1, 10.2-10.7, 11.10-11.13, 12.1, 14.8, 21.5, 22.10, 23.3, 23.6, 24.9-24.11, 26.11, 27.3, 27.4, 27.6-27.9, 35.6, 35.9-35.13, 36.1-36.3, 36.5, 36.10, 36.11, 37.14, 43.6-43.8, 43.10-43.12, 46.6-46.11, 59.13, 59.14, F+D.1. Three additional folders, which contain records where access would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy, are also closed: #1.3 is closed until January 1, 2076; #25.1 and 25.2 are closed until January 1, 2072. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Patricia Ireland while an officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is held by NOW. Papers created by Patricia Ireland outside of her responsibilities as a NOW officer are held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent25.02 linear feet ((60 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 1 videotape)
The majority of the Patricia Ireland papers document her professional career within NOW, as well as the general work of the organization. The papers were not in any order when received and have been arranged by the processor. Where possible, the original folder titles have been maintained and appear in quotation marks. Remaining titles were created by the processor, who also added information in square brackets.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1985-1997 (#1.1-1.6), includes correspondence and research material related to the writing and publishing of Ireland's memoir, What Women Want, in 1996, and other published media about her. Additional articles and clippings that mention Ireland may be found throughout the collection.
Series II, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN, 1972-2005 (#1.7-60.16), includes correspondence, reports, legal case files, notes, and other research and printed materials regarding NOW's work with women's rights and other social and political issues. Subseries are organized by Ireland's positions within NOW, and many file topics overlap among subseries, including National NOW conference and board meeting files, and training/workshop materials.
Subseries A, Florida and early NOW involvement, 1972-1988 (#1.7-16.8), includes records that document Ireland's work with Dade County NOW, Florida NOW, and as a representative to the national board. Of note are Ireland's correspondence and notes regarding Ellie Smeal's campaign for NOW president (#13.10-14.3); files documenting the NOW Equal Rights Amendment Countdown Campaign in Florida, including publicity, lobbying materials, and clippings (#6.5-8.9); and Ireland's correspondence and notes regarding the organization of the Puerto Rico chapter of NOW and the development of a bilingual NOW newspaper (#15.2-15.4). Dates of included items in the national NOW conference files may be earlier or later than the listed conference date. Files are arranged alphabetically, except for national NOW conference files, which are arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, National treasurer and executive vice president (1987-1991), 1974-1992 (#16.9-34.5, F+D.1), contains records regarding Ireland's work as national treasurer and executive vice president, as well as general work of NOW. Executive committee files contain mostly memos and correspondence regarding both internal administrative issues, public work, and meetings. Of note are legal case files and correspondence with the Federal Election Commission, including regarding their investigation into NOW PAC in response to complaints of misconduct from the National Conservative Political Action Committee (#23.11-24.6). Other records of interest include Ireland's campaign for NOW's vice-presidency as part of the United Feminist Action Campaign team (#26.12-27.9); NOW's guidelines for Project Stand Up for Women, legal case files and notes regarding Operation Rescue's rallies and protests at abortion clinics, and materials regarding NOW's direct clinic defense (#30.3-31.5); agendas, notes, evaluations, handouts, and correspondence relating to various trainings and workshops for NOW activists and leaders, including non-violent civil disobedience training; and articles, notes, reports, Commission for Responsive Democracy meeting agendas, strategies, and press for the creation of a viable political New Party based on progressive ideals (#25.9-26.5). Dates of included items in the national NOW conference files may be earlier or later than the listed conference date. Files are arranged alphabetically, except for national NOW conference files, which are arranged chronologically.
Subseries C, President (1991-2001), 1974-2001 (#34.6-59.12, Vt-189.1), contains records created during Ireland's tenure as NOW's national president. Chronological correspondence (#38.1-39.6) includes personal requests for funding or assistance in legal or personal matters and response letters regarding feminist and political issues. Correspondence and related files (#39.7-42.3) include reports, press releases, notes, and clippings. Topics include administrative issues, personal requests, NOW events and conferences, publicity, chapter issues, politics, fundraising, press, and issues such as Title IX, sexual harassment and violence, and abortion. Speaking engagement files, which also include book signing engagements, consist mostly of general information about the event, and programs or flyers; dates of included items may be earlier or later than the listed engagement date. Of note are the World March of Women 2000 printed materials and agenda (#59.10-59.11), and Fight the Right March 1996 materials, including information on the "religious right" (#43.4-43.5). Also included is one videotape of various television segments possibly compiled by the Fund for the Feminist Majority and featuring Patricia Ireland and Helen Neuborne speaking on feminist issues, including violence against women, President Bill Clinton and women, and Supreme Court candidates. Television programs include Good Morning America, Sally Jesse Raphael, and Twenty/Twenty. Dates of included items in the national NOW conference files, speaking engagement files, and speeches, writings, and related files, may be earlier or later than the listed dates. Files are arranged alphabetically, except for speaking engagement and National NOW conference files, which are listed chronologically. See also Subseries D for additional speeches and writings.
Subseries D, Post-president, 2000-2005 (#59.13-60.16), includes files regarding Ireland's ongoing work on behalf of NOW. Included are speaking engagement files, as well as notes for speeches, and notes, correspondence, and meeting agendas of NOW's Structural Review Task Force; some speeches and writings are from 2000 and 2001. In addition, the subseries includes Young Women's Christian Association materials relating to Ireland's application for Chief Executive Officer. Files are arranged alphabetically, except for speaking engagement files, which are listed chronologically.
Series III, OVERSIZED, 1987-1992, n.d. (#F+D.1, OD.1), includes campaign and rally posters.
Photographs referred to as "uncataloged" are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].
Feminist activist, lawyer, and former president of the National Organization for Women, Patricia Ireland was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on October 19, 1945, the daughter of Joan Filipek and James Ireland. She received a BA from the University of Tennessee in 1966 and a JD from the University of Miami Law School in 1975. She worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am from 1967 to 1975, where she successfully challenged an employee health insurance plan that did not cover spouses of employees equally. Following her graduation from law school, she practiced corporate and commercial law at a Miami law firm while also taking on legal cases for women's rights and working for Dade County NOW as pro-bono legal counsel. In 1980, she was elected as a representative to the National NOW Board and in 1983 she became chair of Florida NOW's lesbian rights task force and a member of the internal structure review committee. In 1985, she managed Eleanor Smeal's successful campaign for the NOW presidency and chaired the National NOW by-laws committee. In spring 1987, Ireland was elected executive vice-president and national treasurer of NOW. In 1989, she developed NOW's Project Stand Up for Women, an initiative to defend women's access to abortion, and worked as the national coordinator. She continued this work after her election as president in December 1991.
Early in her presidency, Ireland led NOW in organizing the March for Women's Lives and initiated the Elect Women for Change campaign to bring a record number of women to political office. She also worked to forge links with other social justice and civil rights groups and was the prime architect of NOW's Global Feminist Program. Her tenure as president ended in 2001 but she continued to be involved with NOW in other capacities.
Starting in April 2003 she worked briefly as the Chief Executive Officer of the Young Women's Christian Association and in 2005 she returned to Miami to practice labor law.
The collection is arranged in three series:
- Series I. Biographical and personal, 1985-1997 (#1.1-1.6)
- Series II. National Organization for Women, 1972-2005 (#1.7-60.16)
- ___Subseries A. Florida and early NOW involvement, 1972-1988 (#1.7-16.8)
- ___Subseries B. National treasurer and executive vice president (1987-1991), 1974-1992 (#16.9-34.5, F+D.1)
- ___Subseries C. President (1991-2001), 1974-2001 (#34.6-59.12, Vt-189.1)
- ___Subseries D. Post-president, 2000-2005 (#59.13-60.16)
- Series III. Oversized, 1987-1992, n.d. (#F+D.1, OD.1)
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 2006-M82, 2007-M41
The papers of NOW officer Patricia Ireland were given to the Schlesinger Library by Patricia Ireland in 2006 and 2007.
Donors: Patricia Ireland
Accession numbers: 2006-M82, 2007-M41
Processed by: Laura Peimer
The following items have been removed from the collection:
- Approximately 2 linear feet of NOW printed materials have been removed and added to the National Organization for Women Records.
- Approximately 6 inches of various NOW chapter newsletters have been removed to the NOW newsletter collection.
- Approximately 1 linear foot of feminist periodicals transferred to the Schlesinger Library printed materials collection.
- Two folders of various printed ephemera from other organizations have been removed to the feminist ephemera collection.
- Thirteen audiotapes and two audio reel to reels were removed and added to the NOW audio collection.
Processed: January 2011
By: Laura Peimer
- Abortion--United States
- Associations, institutions, etc.
- Civil rights--United States
- Demonstrations--United States
- Equal rights amendments--United States
- Feminism--United States
- Feminists--United States
- National Organization for Women
- Pro-choice movement--United States
- Sex discrimination against women--Law and legislation
- Women lawyers
- Women's rights--United States
- Women--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States
- Women--United States--Social conditions
- Ireland, Patricia. Papers of NOW officer Patricia Ireland, 1972-2005: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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