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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 666

Additional records of the National Organization for Women, 1970-2011


Additional records of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest feminist organization in the United States.


  • Creation: 1970-2011


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Written permission of the National Organization for Women is required for materials less than 20 years old, with the exception of publications, mailings, press releases, clippings, publicity, awards, and other documents made generally available to the public and to wider NOW membership, which are open. Records of the NOW political action committees and the NOW Foundation are closed pending negotiations. Additionally, the following materials are closed as per the agreement between NOW and the Schlesinger Library:

  1. Board minutes and related materials: closed 20 years
  2. Court cases, excluding public documents (briefs, findings, opinions, etc.): closed 20 years
  3. Donation records: closed 50 years
  4. Any records where access to which is deemed by library staff to constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy: closed until the likely death of the individual concerned
  5. Financial records: closed 50 years
  6. Grievances filed against NOW, NOW chapters, or individuals: closed 50 years
  7. Membership records that disclose individual names: closed 50 years

As of December 2015, access to materials that are more than 20 years old no longer require written permission of the National Organization for Women.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the National Organization for Women is held by the National Organization for Women. If the National Organization for Women ceases to exist, copyright will be transferred to the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Open records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures. Written permission of the National Organization for Women is required for all other records. Closed records may be copied for NOW administrative use with the written permission of NOW's executive committee. "Closed as specified" records may be copied only with the written permission of the current president of NOW.


202.45 linear feet ((438 file boxes, 5 half file boxes, 10 folio boxes, 5 card file boxes) plus 2 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 43 photograph folders, 484 slides, 140 objects, electronic records)

Records of the National Organization for Women (NOW) include correspondence, minutes, legal case files, financial documents, membership records, publications and publicity, memorabilia, and electronic records. Original folder headings were maintained; titles in brackets were created by the archivists. Files were arranged by the archivists.

Audiotapes and videotapes were removed and cataloged separately. For audiotapes, see finding aid for Additional Audio Collection of the National Organization for Women (T-466), and for moving images, the Moving image collection of the National Organization for Women, 1970-2006 (Vt-241; MP-34; DVD-7).

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database.

Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this collection.

Series I, ADMINISTRATIVE, 1971-2011 (#1.1-25.2, PD.1, E.1), contains reports, contracts and leases, correspondence, memos, etc., relating to the administrative functions of NOW. There is little information on staff members; personnel records have been retained by NOW. Intern files contain applications, college transcripts, resumes, correspondence, intern evaluations, internship evaluations, etc., and are closed for 80 years. Files are arranged alphabetically. For additional Patricia Ireland files, particularly post-1998 correspondence, see MC 663, Papers of NOW Officer Patricia Ireland. NOW's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site will be available through this finding aid in 2012.

Series II, BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, 1974-2009 (#25.3-35.7, 36.1-36.10, 37.1-37.2), includes minutes, notes, handouts, reports, etc., documenting the activities of NOW's board of directors and executive committee. The national board is composed of the board members, elected by members of the regions; the national officers; and the president of the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (known as Legal Momentum since 2004). The executive committee is made up of the national officers: president, vice president-executive, vice president-action, secretary, and treasurer. The executive committee meets when action is necessary between board meetings. Additional files relating to NOW's board of directors and executive committee can be found in Series II of MC 496. Files are arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Board of directors, 1974-2009 (#25.3-35.5, 37.1), contains board member lists, grievance files, correspondence, reports to the board, and meeting files. Meeting files (#28.7-35.5) include approved and unapproved minutes, agendas, notes, litigation reports, government relations reports, original handwritten motions presented by board members, and roll call votes on various motions. Although MC 496 also includes meeting files for 1987-1995 (#6.34-6.66), files in #27.3-27.6, 28.7-30.5, and 37.1 appear to be more complete, containing additional notes, reports, motions, roll call votes, etc. In 1997, the national board and the NOW Foundation board began to hold joint meetings and files from those meetings contain notes, reports, motions, roll call votes, etc., from both groups. Files that contain materials relating to the NOW Foundation as well as NOW are closed pending negotiations with the NOW Foundation. Correspondence contains mailings to board members from NOW officers as well as from members and staff about issues they wanted the board to address. Grievance files contain correspondence, national NOW by-laws, chapter by-laws, legal documents, etc., concerning grievances filed against NOW, NOW chapters, and individuals. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Executive committee, 1984-2004 (#35.6-35.7, 36.1-36.10, 37.2), contains minutes, notes from meetings, meeting handouts, and correspondence. Meetings were generally concerned with the day-to-day operation of NOW and occurred on a weekly basis. Meeting handouts include correspondence, budgets, and reports. Although MC 496 also includes meeting files for 1984-1988 (#28.11-28.13), files in #36.2-36.7, and 37.2 appear to be more complete, containing additional notes, handouts, and correspondence. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series III, FINANCIAL, 1971-2009 (#35.8-35.10, 36.11-36.12, 38.1-49.10, 50.1-75.8, 76FB.1-77FB.9), includes memos and statements setting out NOW's financial policies and guidelines, budgets, audits, reports, etc., relating to the financial aspects of NOW. The bulk of this series is comprised of reports generated from NOW's data management system. Some information in the system-generated reports is labeled using system source codes, the translations of which are generally not included in this collection. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, MEMBERSHIP, 1978-2005 (#49.11-49.12, 75.9-75.10, 78.1-85.9, 86.1-88.9, 89FB.1-90FB.6, 91FB.1-91FB.3, 92CB-96CB), includes membership processing manuals, correspondence with data management system vendors, membership data entry instructions, membership rosters, membership statistics, etc. Also included are direct mailings (mostly photocopies) containing membership and financial solicitations, as well as correspondence and reports analyzing the effectiveness and documenting the scope of direct mail distribution. Many of the reports in this series were generated from NOW's data management system and include information labeled using system source codes, translations of which are generally not included in this collection. Files containing member names or financial information are closed for 50 years from latest date in folder. Direct mail (#86.1-88.9) is open, without written permission, to all researchers. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series V, NATIONAL CONFERENCES, 1978-2005 (#85.10-85.14, 97.1-103.3, 104.1-107.7, OD.1, PD.2sl), includes programs, memos, conference reports, resolutions (drafts and final versions), national office candidate campaign literature, press materials, etc., relating to the planning, running, and outcome of NOW's national membership meetings. Much of the documentation of conferences held before 1995 can be found in MC 496. Files are arranged chronologically, then alphabetically.

Series VI, LEGAL, 1971-2004 (#88.10-88.11, 103.4-103.23, 107.8-137.6, 138.1-139.8, 437.25), contains correspondence, legal papers (including briefs and other filings), background research, requests for legal assistance from women, and some material from NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW LDEF) board meetings. NOW officers also sit on the board of Legal Momentum (formerly NOW LDEF), therefore files from those board and board committee meetings are found here. Most files are general office files, but some may have been created by Kim Gandy, Liz Nicholson, Eleanor Smeal, Mary Jean Collins, and Patricia Ireland; creators' names are noted in the folder title if known. The series is arranged in two subseries. See Series VII for files on NOW v. Scheidler. See Series XIV for files on legal cases for which the NOW Foundation wrote or endorsed amicus briefs.

Subseries A, General files, 1974-2004 (#103.4, 107.8-109.3), includes correspondence, research, and background files on particular legal cases or issues. A few letters requesting NOW to sign on to amicus briefs may be found in the general correspondence files, but most requests are filed with legal files in Subseries B. Files on Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) litigation, including general notes and information on lawsuits, can be found in this subseries; see individual case files for instances in which NOW was involved directly in litigation.

Subseries B, Legal cases, 1971-2004 (#88.10-88.11, 103.5-103.23, 109.4-137.6, 138.1-139.8, 437.25), includes correspondence, legal documents, drafts, notes, and publicity relating to legal cases in which NOW was interested or involved. Correspondence may include requests for signing amicus briefs, updates on litigation, internal NOW communications about litigation strategy, etc. "Legal papers" refers to documents (briefs, exhibits, motions, etc.) filed with a court, which are therefore public documents and open to research. Research folders that merely contained print-outs from LexisNexis of Supreme Court rulings have been discarded; any annotated materials were retained. Legal topics at stake in cases in this subseries include pregnancy discrimination, equal pay for women, access to health care (abortion), affirmative action, voting rights, family law (child support, divorce), rape, incest, male-only education, etc. Folders may contain NOW's succinct description (possibly meant for board meetings or publication) of cases, the issues at stake, and resulting ideas for legal action or policy. Petitions to the Federal Communications Commission generally include lobbying on behalf of women- and minority-owned radio and television stations. Files on the NOW v. Operation Rescue lawsuit include several folders that may be Project Stand Up for Women resource folders for the 1989 Operation Rescue targeted picketing, or "rescues," of Washington, DC, area clinics. Additional material for some of these cases can be found in MC 496; duplication has been avoided where possible. Some of the correspondence is from NOW LDEF, which was also involved in many of these cases, and often filed suit on behalf of NOW. For related NOW LDEF files, see MC 623. In order to enhance access to public court documents, case files have been split into folders based on document type, where possible. Correspondence files and notes or drafts for legal cases are closed for 20 years from the date of document. Any folder containing only legal papers or press material is open to research. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series VII, LEGAL: NOW v. SCHEIDLER, 1977-2009 (#137.7-137.8, 139.9-272.12, 448.1-458.14, PD.3-PD.18, E.2-E.44), contains records of the court case filed by NOW in 1986, in an attempt to use federal antitrust and racketeering laws to bar pro-life protesters from blocking entrances to women's health care clinics providing abortion services. Included are correspondence, legal papers and briefs, deposition and trial transcripts, NOW's background research on pro-life groups and their tactics, documents relating to protests at abortion clinics, and other material documenting the pro-life movement in America during the 1980s and 1990s. Initially NOW named pro-life activist Joseph Scheidler and other members of his Pro-Life Action League as the main defendants, but Randall Terry and his group Operation Rescue were added to the lawsuit in 1988. NOW's lawyers sought to prove that there was a conspiracy among pro-life activists and groups to restrict access to clinics. In part because of the novel attempt to apply antitrust and racketeering laws to such behavior, the court case continued for many years, with multiple decisions of the Illinois District Court appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. The case went to trial in the District Court in 1998, and a jury ruled in favor of NOW. Appeals continued until 2006, when the Supreme Court ruled that NOW had failed to adequately prove its case under the racketeering (RICO) statutes.

The majority of material in this series originated with the office of Fay Clayton, a Chicago lawyer with the firm Kahn Robinson Curley & Clayton, who represented NOW in the litigation beginning in 1989. Clayton's office cleared all material in this series for potential confidentiality restrictions. Other NOW v. Scheidler material may be found in MC 496; there is substantial duplication of pleadings and deposition transcripts between the two collections. Complete newsletters found throughout the series were removed and will be cataloged by the Library's book division. Additional material received as electronic files will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in this series. In April 2015, additional material received from the offices of attorney Fay Clayton was added to this series. This material is housed in Boxes #448 through 458. All other file remain in the same order. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order. The series has been arranged in five subseries by basic document purpose.

Subseries A, Pleadings and trial transcripts, 1986-2009 (#140.1-175.2, 448.1-453.1, E.2-E.44), contains briefs, motions, court orders, and all other documents filed with the court. Two slightly different sets of numbered pleadings for the District Court are represented here: #140.2-144.3, 145.2-146.2, and 166.1-166.2 bear Roman numerals and are bound in folders bearing the name of Sachnoff & Weaver, a Chicago law firm that did pro-bono work on the case; #181.6-181.7 begin at Volume 27 and belonged to lawyer Fay Clayton and her associates. There is some overlap of documents between Volumes XVI and XVII and Volumes 27-29, but the numbering schema is different for each set. Documents not bound together are listed after the volume of pleadings under which they would fall chronologically. Appellate Court pleadings for the first appeal (91-2408) have similar double pleadings as those of the District Court: two volumes of pleadings from the offices of Sachnoff and Weaver hold significant overlap with the two volumes of pleadings from Fay Clayton's office. Again, documents are numbered in different schema, and each set contains documents not in the other. Pleadings are organized with District Court records filed chronologically, followed by Appeals Court and Supreme Court pleadings. Trial materials, notably electronic transcripts of the District Court trial and various other pretrial and post-trial hearings, are listed where chronologically appropriate. This subseries is open to research without written permission.

Subseries B, Correspondence and research, 1980-2007 (#139.9-139.11, 176.1-188.8, 454.1-458.8, PD.3-PD.18), contains correspondence, drafts, and NOW's background research on health care clinic violence. Correspondence includes exchanges between plaintiff's and defendant's lawyers, between Clayton and NOW officers (primarily Patricia Ireland and Kim Gandy), communication with the court, and mail sent to Clayton during the 1998 trial. Correspondence was arranged by Clayton's office in numbered volumes; this correspondence continues that contained in MC 496. Research includes photographs of protests at Atlanta-area clinics, and bills and other financial information documenting property damage done to clinics from anti-abortion groups or individuals. Some or all of these documents were used to try to make the RICO claim against the defendants; charts showing anti-abortion groups' actions and how they fit into a RICO framework are included in some folders. Several folders of attorney notes from Fay Clayton's office were added in 2015; some of these also contain memoranda between the NOW office and Clayton. The subseries is arranged with correspondence first, followed by attorney notes and drafts, and research filed alphabetically by folder title.

Subseries C, Witness files, 1981-1999 (#188.9-218.12), include NOW's background files on potential witnesses, depositions of witnesses, deposition exhibits, notes, etc. General witness files may contain notes, clippings, potential deposition questions, exhibits to be used during depositions, research material, and related documents produced during discovery. Depositions began to be taken following the filing of the complaint in 1986, and continued to be taken up until the District Court trial in 1998. The majority of this material is research gathered by NOW, although transcripts from a few depositions that were taken by the defendants (Susan Hill, Molly Yard) are also included. The subseries also includes deposition extracts, which provided the most important part of depositions, and were apparently used by Clayton and her team to prepare for trial. Deposition designations detail objections by the witnesses' lawyer to revealing specific information gathered in the deposition during trial. The subseries is arranged with individuals' files listed first, followed by files holding groups of deposition extracts, a group of Eleanor Smeal's witness files (identified as such), several files on witnesses grouped by city, and general files; within each grouping, files are alphabetically arranged.

Subseries D, Discovery documents, 1977-1998 (#137.7-137.8, 218.13-260.8), contains correspondence, newsletters, clippings, flyers, mailings, etc., that were produced by the various defendants and by NOW during the "discovery" phase of the lawsuit. Files in this subseries contain documentation of a number of activities of the pro-life movement across the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. Documents are identified with one or two letters identifying who produced the material, followed by a number. These numbers, called "Bates numbers," are used to track documents in court cases. In many instances, entire filing cabinets were photocopied and numbered, in other cases the numbering schema of the documents appears to be random. Some of the documents in this subseries were later used as trial exhibits, and may appear again in Subseries E. Document folders that contained only newsclippings were discarded by Clayton's office, and thus numbers are not always consecutive. Audiotapes and videotapes produced during discovery will be cataloged separately as T-466 (audiotapes) and Vt-241 (videotapes).

Documents with "FB" prefixes were produced by Philip "Flip" Benham, who became the national director of Operation Rescue in 1994 (and in 1999 renamed the group Operation Save America). These files appear to be exact photocopies of Operation Rescue's files, with several alphabetical runs of folder titles that are similar but are from different years. "Newsletter" files include pre-publication pages, correspondence, articles for inclusion, letters and mailings from pro-life groups around the country (e.g., Rescue Rochester), etc. "Cities of Refuge" files have registration forms from individuals who took part in protests and "rescues," as well as non-violence pledges signed by participants. FB23358-24562 (#234.2-234.19) are files on Texas women's clinics that provided abortions, as well as on office buildings or malls that housed the clinics; these document Operation Rescue's techniques of applying economic pressure on other businesses in order to cause clinics to go out of business or lose their lease. Clinic files contain information on doctors who worked at clinics, photographs of people entering and leaving the clinics, etc. Documents with "S" prefixes were produced by Joseph Scheidler. Documents with "SS" prefixes were produced by Rachelle "Shelly" Shannon. Documents with "RT" or "T" prefixes were produced by Randall Terry; those with "TN" prefixes were also produced by Terry, but in other lawsuits (primarily other NOW lawsuits). Documents with "W" prefixes were produced by Conrad Wojnar, and those documents with "V" prefixes were produced by Vital-Med Laboratories.

Most of the documents produced by NOW to the defendants do not have alphabetical prefixes; they are listed below solely by their Bates numbers. Other documents produced by NOW can be found in MC 496. Documents produced by NOW include related subject folders of different NOW staff, many of which have similar titles. Many files listed here belonged to Maureen Anderson. Throughout the subseries are clippings NOW kept on clinic violence, which document NOW national and chapter responses to local violence, etc. Documents with "H" prefixes are transcripts NOW made of the recordings on Joseph Scheidler's Pro-Life Action News telephone hotline. Documents with "N" prefixes are those that were entered into NOW's discovery database after 1996. The subseries is arranged with material produced by defendants first, followed by that produced by NOW. Several folders of unnumbered NOW documents are listed at the end of the subseries. Original folder titles have been retained.

Subseries E, Exhibits, 1978-1998 (#260.9-272.12, 458.9-458.14), contains documents and other material intended to be introduced as exhibits during the 1998 trial. Most of the documents have Bates numbers stamped on them and were all gathered from the documents produced during discovery. Lists of submitted exhibits (#260.9 and 261.18) contain descriptions of documents and objections from plaintiffs or defendants; see also the proposed pretrial order in Subseries A (#150.5-150.6). NOW settled with defendant Randall Terry in early 1998 before going to trial; irrespective, the exhibits prepared by Terry's lawyers are included here. A set of exhibits that NOW actually introduced at trial, a much smaller subset of those listed here, can also be found in Subseries A (#150.7, 153.1-153.4); there is no similar list of documents actually introduced by Scheidler's lawyers at trial. Exhibits introduced into trial represent the documents that NOW (and the defendants) felt were most powerful for making their case in court under the RICO laws. For deposition exhibits, see Subseries C. Audiotapes and videotapes marked as exhibits will be cataloged separately. Defendant's exhibits are listed first, followed by NOW's exhibits.

Series VIII, CHAPTERS AND REGIONS, 1970-2008 (#137.9, 272.13-324.13, PD.19-PD.34), includes correspondence, notes, kits, manuals, forms, etc., documenting national NOW's relationship with NOW chapters and regions. Files are arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Administrative, 1973-2005 (#137.9, 272.13-283.5), includes correspondence, notes, kits, manuals, forms, etc., detailing national NOW's administration of chapters and regions. Files contain guidelines for creating by-laws, holding meetings, and electing officers; holding rallies, marches, and protests; creating publications such as press releases and newsletters; and handling personality and ideological conflicts between chapter members. Files also document NOW's trainings for chapter leaders and trips taken by NOW staff to strengthen ties with chapters and to recruit individuals to convene new chapters or reinvigorate existing chapters. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Chapters and regions, 1970-2008 (#283.6-324.13, PD.19-PD.34), contains correspondence, annual reports, by-laws, flyers, press releases, brochures, etc., documenting chapter convening and activities reported to national NOW leadership. A majority of the material consists of annual reports, which NOW required chapters to complete. The reports contain membership and financial statistics, give an accounting of actions chapters organized or participated in, and provide examples of any press they received or publications they produced. Newsletters have been removed from files and added to the National Organization for Women Chapter Newsletter Collection (Pr-1), and other publications can be found in Series X, Publications. In some instances, NOW created files titled "other" or "miscellaneous" chapters within their state groupings, which contain information on less active or defunct chapters; in other cases, information on those chapters is filed in the state chapter files. Files are arranged alphabetically by state.

Series IX, TASK FORCES AND CONFERENCE IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEES, 1972-2006 (#137.10, 324.14-328.9), includes correspondence, memos, drafts, notes, speeches, testimonies, etc., created by NOW's task forces and conference implementation committees. Consciousness Raising Task Force activities, including workshops, were geared toward producing and improving the Guidelines to Feminist Consciousness Raising. Similarly, the Task Force on the Rights of Women in Marriage was largely concerned with the creation of A Guide to the Rights of Women in Marriage and files documenting their work consist mainly of drafts of the guide. Compliance Task Force materials were donated by Lynne Darcy, who was the task force coordinator from 1973 to 1976. Additional files relating to Darcy's involvement with the Compliance Task Force can be found in the Papers of NOW Officer Lynne Darcy (MC 494). Additional materials relating to NOW's task forces and conference implementation committees (including the Compliance Task Force) can be found in Series XIII, Subseries C, of the Records of the National Organization for Women (MC 496). Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series X, ACTION FILES, 1979 - ca.2009 (#137.11-137.14, 329.1-348.6, 90FB.7, PD.35-PD.42), includes correspondence, notes, memos, clippings, programs, etc., relating to conferences, rallies, marches, protests, boycotts, and other actions NOW organized or participated in. Conferences represented in this series are those convened on specific issues and do not include NOW national conference files. Files relating to national conferences are found in Series V. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XI, ACTION TRAINING MATERIALS, 1986-2006 (#348.7-351.11), includes training manuals and packets, correspondence, notes from meetings, etc., documenting NOW's training for national NOW staff members and chapter leaders. Trainings were intended to instruct NOW staff and leaders on how to organize protests, rallies, and boycotts; lobby members of Congress via mail and phone calls; and to raise awareness of planned actions among supporters, generally through scripted phone calls. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XII, ISSUE FILES, 1973-2010 (#351.12-375.6, PD.43-PD.44), includes correspondence, notes, memos, action mailings, clippings, printed materials, etc., relating to various topics of interest to NOW. Files document NOW's efforts to monitor and respond to legislative developments impacting women at both the national and state level. Many files, particularly those relating to abortion, chronicle NOW's concern over groups whose views were in opposition to NOW's and that had a great deal of public and legislative influence. Insurance files document NOW's insurance project, which focused on eliminating gender discrimination in auto insurance. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series XIII, POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES (PACs), 1977-2008 (#137.15-137.16, 376.1-409.2, 410FB.1-413FB.8), includes minutes, agendas, correspondence, memos, notes, reports to the Federal Election Commission, etc., documenting the administration of the NOW/PAC, which supports feminist candidates at the national level (Congress and the President/Vice President), and the NOW Equality PAC (NEP), which supports feminist candidates at the local level (gubernatorial, state legislative, mayors, etc.). The PACs also provide support to groups working to support or oppose ballot initiatives. The NOW/PAC and NOW Equality PAC records were not separated from each other; most of the files were created by Alice Cohan and Linda Berg, NOW's political directors. Meeting files contain minutes, agendas, financial records, and supporting documents, which include information on candidates and their positions. Federal Election Commission (FEC) files include correspondence with and reports to the FEC. Files are arranged with general files first, then alphabetically.

Series XIV, NOW FOUNDATION, 1986-2009 (#173.12-173.19, 414.1-424.5, 425.1-425.5, OD.2), includes correspondence, financial documents, reports, information packets, legal files, etc., of the NOW Foundation, which was incorporated in 1986 to finance and conduct charitable and educational programs in support of NOW. Files are arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, General, 1986-2009 (#414.1-418.15, OD.2), includes correspondence, financial documents, reports, minutes, information packets, etc., relating to the administration of the NOW Foundation and its women's health educational programs. Financial information can be found in the charitable registration files as well as in the budgets file. Programs documented in this subseries include a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-funded campaign to prevent and decrease tobacco use among women and girls; the Foundation's yearly Love Your Body campaign, which is aimed at increasing positive body image among women and girls; and the Women's Health Project, which raises awareness of advertising marketed to women and girls that co-opts the feminist message and focuses on traditional concepts of weight and beauty. The Foundation is governed by NOW's national board and their board meetings were held in conjunction with NOW's national board meetings. As a result, most materials from the Foundation's board meetings are contained in the national board files, which are located in Series II, Subseries A. Files are arranged with general files first, then alphabetically.

Subseries B, Legal files, 1991-2004 (#173.12-173.19, 418.16-424.5, 425.1-425.5), includes correspondence, drafts, notes, feedback forms, amicus briefs and other court filings, etc., relating to the Foundation's litigation work, including a project to create a national women's legal referral service. For a period of time in the late 1990s, the majority of the amicus briefs signed by NOW were actually signed by the NOW Foundation. Files on these cases are included in this series. Most include merely an amicus brie; a few also include correspondence files. The exhibits in the Bunch v. Rent-A-Center lawsuit (accompanying the motion for class certification) include testimonies of female employees of the store. As part of its efforts to form a national women's legal referral service, the Foundation solicited information from individual lawyers who would volunteer to be contacted by women in need of representation for a variety of types of cases. "Feedback forms" include responses from lawyers about their need for such a referral service, as well as their current related needs and issues. Some include brochures for women's legal services clinics, domestic violence shelters, women's organizations, etc. Folders containing only legal papers are open to research. Files are arranged with general files first, followed by case files arranged alphabetically.

Series XV, JAN ERICKSON, 1983-2010 (#137.17, 375.7-375.12, 409.3, 424.6-424.8, 426.1-429.11, F+D.1), includes notes, correspondence, drafts, etc., belonging to Jan Erickson, who served as state president of Alaska NOW and was Government Relations Director for NOW and Director of Foundation Programs for the NOW Foundation. Most files represent Erickson's work as Government Relations Director and contain information on proposed and enacted Congressional legislation on issues relating to women. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XVI, COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT, 1973-2009 (#137.18, 430.1-437.24), includes correspondence, reports, drafts, press releases, etc., documenting the development of publications created by NOW. The majority of files contain drafts of, and background materials for, press releases and materials distributed at events. Published versions of press releases and publications can be found in Series XVII, Publications. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XVII, PUBLICATIONS, 1973-2009 (#425.6-425.20, 438.1-445.7, 452.3, F+D.2, SD.1, PD.45sl), contains publications created and distributed by NOW, including brochures about NOW or its chapters, the ERA, lesbian rights, etc., as well as kits, press releases, clippings, etc. NOW's newsletters, NOW Acts, Do It NOW, and National NOW Times have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library periodicals collection; researchers should consult HOLLIS for holdings. NOW chapter newsletters have been removed to the National Organization for Women chapter newsletter collection (Pr-4). Materials in this series are open to researchers without written permission from NOW. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XVIII, MEMORABILIA, ca.1974-2004 (#445.8m-446.10m, 447FB.1m-447FB.13m), includes buttons, pins, magnets, t-shirts, necklaces, etc., created by NOW or collected by NOW members. Files are arranged with items created by NOW first, followed by an alphabetical grouping by topic of other objects. Topics may overlap (e.g., buttons commemorating ERA marches filed under "ERA" could also be filed under marches).


The largest feminist organization in the United States, the National Organization for Women (NOW) began when a group of representatives attending the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women (June 28-30, 1966) became angered by their unsuccessful attempts to force the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce federal regulations ending sex discrimination. Meeting with Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique and a guest speaker at the conference, the invited group of 28 women and men decided to establish a civil rights organization for women. The group included Gene Boyer, Kathryn Clarenbach, Mary Eastwood, Dorothy Haener, Anna Roosevelt Halsted, Esther Johnson, Pauli Murray, Inka O'Hanrahan, and Caroline Ware. On the last day of the conference, they drafted their statement of purpose: "to take action to bring women into full participation in the main-stream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men."

A temporary steering committee publicized the group's purpose and recruited members. By the time the organizing conference was held October 29-30, 1966, NOW had more than 300 members. It quickly grew into a group with tens of thousands of members and hundreds of state and local chapters. For the first two years there was no central office; officers performed their NOW-related duties and kept their files at home or in their workplaces. NOW established an office in Washington, DC, in 1968, and moved it to New York City in 1969, where it operated from two consecutive apartments of NOW Executive Director Dolores Alexander. Subsequently, NOW split the headquarters into three offices, setting up and maintaining operations in New York City (Public Information Office, 1973-1976), Washington (Legislative Office, 1973-1976), and Chicago (National Office, 1973-1976) before centralizing all functions in one national headquarters in Washington, DC, in January 1976.

From its inception, NOW worked on numerous issues affecting women's lives. The NOW Bill of Rights for 1968 laid out those areas it considered of highest importance:

  1. 1. Equal Constitutional Amendment [more commonly called the Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA]
  2. 2. Enforce law banning sex discrimination in employment
  3. 3. Maternity leave rights in employment and in Social Security benefits
  4. 4. Tax deduction for home and child care expenses for working parents
  5. 5. Child day care centers
  6. 6. Equal and unsegregated education
  7. 7. Equal job training opportunities and allowances for women in poverty
  8. 8. The right of women to control their reproductive lives

NOW set up task forces and committees to address these and other issues. In the 1970s, NOW began to devote more and more time to passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was finally passed by Congress on March 22, 1972, almost 50 years after it was first introduced. In 1977, NOW declared ratification of the ERA to be their "top national priority," and in February 1978 declared a "State of which [we] turn all [our] resources to the ratification effort and to extension of the deadline for ratification an additional seven years." The United States Congress, however, only approved an extension of three years, three months, and nine days. In spite of a massive national campaign, carried out by NOW organizers and members in states across the country, the ERA expired in 1982, three states short of ratification. NOW has continued to work for passage of a federal amendment, and for enforcement of the various state ERAs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, NOW also devoted its resources to campaigns for reproductive rights; to end violence against women; to eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; to influence judicial selection; and to promote equality and justice in our society. In 2011, NOW identified the six core issues that it addresses as abortion rights/reproductive issues, violence against women, constitutional equality, promoting diversity/ending racism, lesbian rights, and economic justice. Additional information on NOW's activities and history is available on its web site.


The collection is arranged in 18 series:

  1. Series I. Administrative, 1971-2011 (#1.1-25.2, PD.1, E.1)
  2. Series II. Board and executive committee, 1974-2009 (#25.3-35.7, 36.1-36.10, 37.1-37.2)
  3. Series III. Financial, 1971-2009 (#35.8-35.10, 36.11-36.12, 38.1-49.10, 50.1-75.8, 76FB.1-77FB.9)
  4. Series IV. Membership, 1978-2005 (#49.11-49.12, 75.9-75.10, 78.1-85.9, 86.1-88.9, 89FB.1-90FB.6, 91FB.1-91FB.3, 92CB-96CB)
  5. Series V. National conferences, 1978-2005 (#85.10-85.14, 97.1-103.3, 104.1-107.7, OD.1, PD.2sl)
  6. Series VI. Legal, 1971-2004 (#88.10-88.11, 103.4-103.23, 107.8-137.6, 138.1-139.8, 437.25)
  7. Series VII. Legal: NOW v. Scheidler, 1977-2009 (#137.7-137.8, 139.9-272.12, 448.1-458.14, PD.3-PD.18, E.2-E.44)
  8. Series VIII. Chapters and regions, 1970-2008 (#137.9, 272.13-324.13, PD.19-PD.34)
  9. Series IX. Task forces and conference implementation committees, 1972-2006 (#137.10, 324.14-328.9)
  10. Series X. Action files, 1979 - ca.2009 (#137.11-137.14, 329.1-348.6, 90FB.7, PD.35-PD.42)
  11. Series XI. Action training materials, 1986-2006 (#348.7-351.11)
  12. Series XII. Issue files, 1973-2010 (#351.12-375.6, PD.43-PD.44)
  13. Series XIII. Political action committees, 1977-2008 (#137.15-137.16, 376.1-409.2, 410FB.1-413FB.8)
  14. Series XIV. NOW Foundation, 1986-2009 (#173.12-173.19, 414.1-424.5, 425.1-425.5, OD.2)
  15. Series XV. Jan Erickson, 1983-2010 (#137.17, 375.7-375.12, 409.3, 424.6-424.8, 426.1-429.11, F+D.1)
  16. Series XVI. Communications department, 1973-2009 (#137.18, 430.1-437.24)
  17. Series XVII. Publications, 1973-2009 (#425.6-425.20, 438.1-445.7, 452.3, F+D.2, SD.1, PD.45sl)
  18. Series XVIII. Memorabilia, ca.1974-2004 (#445.8m-446.10m, 447FB.1m-447FB.13m)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2004-M62, 2004-M74, 2004-M118, 2005-M66, 2005-M98, 2006-M44, 2006-M89, 2006-M91, 2006-M108, 2006-M203, 2006-M217, 2007-M121, 2007-M143, 2007-M212, 2007-M213, 2008-M41, 2008-M175, 2010-M7, 2010-M32, 2010-M34, 2010-M40, 2010-M66, 2010-M98, 2010-M112, 2010-M146, 2010-M154, 2010-M177, 2010-M183, 2010-M237, 2011-M20, 2011-M21, 2011-M22, 2011-M100, 2015-M45

These addenda to the records of the National Organization for Women were given to the Schlesinger Library by the National Organization for Women between August 2004 and December 2010. Additional materials were given by Dixie Johnson in July 2004; Whitney Adams in October 2004; Alfred Kolb in May 2006; Lynne Darcy in June 2006; Barbara Howe in July 2007 and October 2008; Lee Perkins in November 2007; Johanna Ettin in March 2008; Fay Clayton in May and June 2010 and March 2015; Frances M. Hicks in August 2010; Shauna Shames in September 2010; and Sonia Pressman Fuentes in June 2011. Other materials were transferred from the papers of Andrea Dworkin (MC 540) and Patricia Ireland (MC 663), and the records of the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (MC 623), Boston N.O.W. (MC 632), and Massachusetts NOW (MC 580).

Related Material:

There are related materials at the Schlesinger Library; see National Organization for Women Records, 1959-2002 (MC 496), National Organization for Women Audio collection, 1966-1991 (T-29), National Organization for Women Videotape collection, 1977-1988 (Vt-25), Additional Audio Collection of the National Organization for Women, ca.1970s-2001 (T-466), and the Moving image collection of the National Organization for Women, 1970-2006 (Vt-241; MP-34; DVD-7).


Donor: National Organization for Women

Accession numbers: 2004-M62, 2005-M98, 2006-M91, 2006-M217, 2010-M7, 2010-M32, 2010-M40, 2010-M66

Processed by: Johanna Carll and Jenny Gotwals

The following audio-visual materials have been removed and are or will be described separately:

  1. 11 cartons, 3 file boxes of audiotapes
  2. 23 cartons, 3 boxes of videotapes
  3. 1 carton, 1 file box of motion pictures

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. The Abortion Report.
  2. Action News.
  3. The Activator.
  4. Advocate. Planned Parenthood of Alabama.
  5. The Backlash Times. Feminists Fighting Pornography, 1989
  6. Birthright of Dallas.
  7. The Campaign Report.
  8. Capitol Area Christian News.
  9. Capitol: Woman. Newsletter of the House Committee on Constitutional Revision and Women's Rights, Volume 8, Number 3 (June 1984); Volume II, Number 2 (April 1986)
  10. Citizen. Focus on the Family.
  11. Collective Voices. SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, Volume 1, Issue 4 (January 19, 2006)
  12. Dallas Rescue News.
  13. Direct Action News.
  14. Focus on the Family.
  15. Free Speech Advocates newsletter.
  16. HLI Reports.
  17. Legislative Update. Family Planning Associates of New York State.
  18. Lesbian News, Volume 20, Number 7 (February 1995), Volume 27, Number 10 (May 2002)
  19. Life Advocate.
  20. Lifeletter.
  21. Missionary Update.
  22. NAC Bulletin. National Abortion Campaign, November/December 1990, February 1991
  23. New Directions for Women, Volume 20, Number 4 (July/August 1991)
  24. Network News.
  25. Newsletter. Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati.
  26. Operation Rescue National newsletter.
  27. Operation Rescue NewsBrief.
  28. Operation Rescue Dallas/Fort Worth newsletter.
  29. The Phyllis Schlafly Report, Volume 15, Number 4 (November 1981); Volume 16, Number 11 (June 1983); Volume 17, Number 4, Section 1 (November 1983)
  30. Presbyterians Pro-Life News.
  31. Priests for Life.
  32. Pro-Life Action News.
  33. Public Affairs Action Letter. Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
  34. Reproductive Freedom Letter. Missourians for Freedom to Choose Abortion, Volume 1, Number 2 (April-May 1978)
  35. Republican National Coalition for Life newsletter.
  36. Rescue America.
  37. The Rescuer.
  38. Torch. Texas Eagle Forum.
  39. Vigil Newsletter.
  40. Voices for the Unborn.
  41. Voices Voices Voices.
  42. Women's Almanac, Volume 7, Number 22, n.d. [1984?]

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection (pending review by curator):

  1. AWLS Newsletter. Association for Women Law Students. Volume 1, Number 1 (November 6, 1977); Volume 2, Numbers 2-4 (October-November 1978, February 1979)
  2. E.E.O.C and the Women's Movement 1965-1975. A paper by Aileen C. Hernandez for the Symposium on the Tenth Anniversary of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, November 28-29, 1975
  3. 4 Days in May .... Storming the gates of Hell, by Paul D. Lindstrom (Christian Liberty Press, 1988)
  4. Is it Hot In Here...Or is it Me? Mastering the Maze of Menopause, by Lorraine D'Abate and Nancy Kenyon, 2000
  5. JAM: Jo's Action Message for Preservers of Feminist Dreams!, Brewer, Maine. Volume VIII, Numbers 1, 6-7 (February, July-August 1999); Volume 9, Numbers 1, 3, 5, 7-9 (February, April, June, August-October 2000)
  6. Missouri ERA Coalition Newsletter. March, May-September, December 1978; February-March, May 1979; June, October 1980; December 1981/April 1982 - March/April 1982
  7. Ten Stupid Things Dr. Laura Tells Women to Do to Mess up Their Lives, by MS Pearl, 1988
  8. Trespassing for Dear Life: What is Operation Rescue Up To? by Gary North (Dominion Press, 1989)
  9. YASNY'S Untitled Newsletter: The Official Newsletter of YASNY, The Unofficial Humor Arm of the Women's Movement. YASNY [You Ain't Nothin' Yet]. Volume 1, Numbers 1-3, Special Report #1 (August-December 1989)

The following items have been transferred to the Women's Newsletter and Periodical Collection (Pr-4):

  1. Anti-Abortion Violence Watch. Feminist Majority Foundation's National Clinic Access Project.
  2. Breaking Chains. Abortion Law Reform Association.
  3. Choice News: A Publication of Oklahoma's 'No on 642' Campaign, April-June 1992
  4. Coalition Quarterly: The Newsletter of the Arkansas Coalition for Choice, Spring 1995
  5. Common Cause/Florida, Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 1976
  6. CSCD Voice. Community Service Center for the Disabled, Inc., special women's issue, Volume 6, Number 4 (August, no year)
  7. Florida Women's Consortium Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 2 (Autumn 1991)
  8. Front Lines Research
  9. The Full Court Press. Citizens for Sports Equity, Volume 1, Number 3 (Summer 1987)
  10. Greater Dallas Coalition for Reproductive Freedom newsletter.
  11. Herland Voice. Herland Sister Resources, Volume 9, Number 5, 7 (May, July 1992)
  12. Houston Woman, formerly Matrix Magazine, February 1984
  13. Kitty Genovese Womens Project, International Womens Day, March 8, 1977
  14. The Lamplighter
  15. MADRE: Joining Hands and Hearts with Women and Children of Central America and the Caribbean. Women's Peace Network, Volume V, Number 2 (Fall 1988)
  16. Michigan Women. Michigan Women's Commission, Fall 1990
  17. Montana Women's Resource, special issue legislative news, 1983
  18. Namasté Cata-mag, Seattle Washington, n.d.
  19. NARAL Campus Newsletter. National Abortion Rights Action League, Volume II, Number 1 (Winter 1991)
  20. NARAL Monitor. National Abortion Rights Action League Foundation, January 31, 1991
  21. NFWBO News. National Foundation for Women Business Owners, Number 2-3 (1998)
  22. North Country Star. Serving Northern California, Midwives Special II, August/September 1978
  23. OWN. Oklahoma Women's Network, Volume 3, Number 2 (May 1992)
  24. Ozark Feminist Review. Fayetteville, Arkansas, Volume IV, Number 6 (May/June 1995)
  25. Question 6 Update. News from Maryland FOR Choice, August 1992
  26. Speak Out! the Pro-Choice Network Newsletter.
  27. SCW News. Southern California Women, Volume II, Number 4 (July-August 1978), Volume III, Number 2 (March 1979)
  28. Sources. Women's Resource Center, Inc., of Norman, Oklahoma, Volume 12, Number 2, ca.1992
  29. Utah Women Speak. Utah Association of Women, Volume IV, Number 6, 11-12 (September 1981, March-April 1982)
  30. Voice of Freedom: Without Reproductive Rights, Women Cannot Be Free. Newsletter of the Pro-Choice Coalition of Colorado Springs, Volume 1, Number 4 (Fall 1999)
  31. Wavelength. Published by Goundswell, a lesbian feminist revolutionary political group, Issue 9, Winter 1987
  32. We Affirm. Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights.
  33. Women Networking. Missouri Women's Network, Volume1, Number 3 (September 1983), Volume 2, Number 1 (March 1984)
  34. Women's Business. Appleton, Wisconsin, Volume 1, Number 1 (February 1986)
  35. Women's Times. San Diego Edition, Volume IV, Number 2 (March 1994)

The following newsletters, for which 3 or fewer issues existed, were added to the Pro-life movement newsletter and periodical collection (Pr-16):

  1. The Abortion Injury Report
  2. Abortion Malpractice Report
  3. Action Line
  4. The American Rescuer
  5. Americans Against Abortion
  6. Black Americans for Life newsletter
  7. The Boston Rescuer
  8. Americans United for Life Briefing Memo
  9. Catholics United for Life newsletter
  10. Christians for Life
  11. Compassion in Action
  12. ¡Escoge La Vida!
  13. The Florida Rescuer
  14. Heart to Heart
  15. Hope Notes
  16. Human Life Review
  17. Informed Conscience
  18. Illinois Right to Life Committee News
  19. Intercessors for America Newsletter
  20. June Pro-Life NewsBrief
  21. Kentucky Right-to-Life Association newsletter
  22. Last Days Newsletter
  23. Legal Action for Women
  24. National Institute of Family & Life Advocates Legal Tips
  25. American Life League LegisLetter
  26. LFL [Libertarians for Life] Reports
  27. Life Activist
  28. Life-Beat News
  29. Life & Birth
  30. Life & Family News
  31. Life Connection
  32. Life Docket
  33. Life Dynamics, Incorporated Update
  34. Life Enterprises Unlimited News & Notes
  35. The Life-Line
  36. Life Report
  37. The Lifesaver
  38. Living
  39. Loveline
  40. Lutherans for Life Newsletter
  41. Mississippi Abortion Abolition Society newsletter
  42. Mothers and Unborn Baby Care of North Texas Newsletter
  43. National Rescue Update
  44. The National Rescuer
  45. Northeast Indiana Rescue
  46. Northern California Operation Rescue Rescue NewsBrief
  47. Project Life Nova Newsletter
  48. On the Street News
  49. Operation Rescue Atlanta newsletter
  50. Operation Rescue Chicago newsletter
  51. Operation Rescue Colorado newsletter
  52. Advocates for Life Ministries Oregon Update
  53. Pearls
  54. Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Federation for Life Newsflash!
  55. Pennsylvanians for Human LifeNews
  56. Project Life newsletter
  57. Project Rescue News
  58. Pro Life Action Bulletin
  59. Pro-Life News
  60. Pro-Life Advocate
  61. Religious Broadcasting
  62. Rescue Report
  63. Rescue!
  64. Rescue the Perishing
  65. Respect Life Report
  66. Right to Life Defender
  67. Right to Life Educational Foundation Bulletin
  68. Rose Review
  69. Ryan Report
  70. Southern California Operation Rescue newsletter
  71. Texans United for Life Monthly Memo
  72. The Texas Rescuer
  73. The Vermont Abortion Injury Report
  74. Voices of the True Majority
  75. Waco Right to Life newsletter

Processing Information

Processed: December 2011

By: Johanna Carll and Jenny Gotwals, with assistance from Camille Torres.

Updated and additional materials added: May 2015

By: Jenny Gotwals, with assistance from Dan Bullman.

National Organization for Women. Additional records of the National Organization for Women, 1970-2011: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Radcliffe College Class of 1950 and the Radcliffe College Class of 1968.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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