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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 491

Papers of NOW officer Shirley Bernard, 1966-1981


Papers of National Organization for Women officer Shirley Bernard, coordinator of NOW's Western Region.


  • Creation: 1966-1981


Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted.

As of November 2015, written permission of the National Organization for Women is no longer required for access to folders #3.3-6.3.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in papers created by Shirley Bernard while an officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is held by NOW. 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.


2.92 linear feet ((7 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 2 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder)

This collection contains mainly correspondence. There are also clippings, brochures, newsletters, and photographs, as well as drafts, notes, and copies of writings and speeches by Bernard. The papers are arranged in five series.

Series I, Writings, Speeches, and Biographical (#1.1-2.6), contains clippings about Bernard and materials relating to her writings and speeches, including drafts, research materials, and final copies. Among the writings are a draft and correspondence relating to Bernard's doctoral dissertation on the Women's Strike of August 26, 1970. The final version is cataloged separately in the library as MC 301. There are transcripts of Bernard's 1973 interviews with Betty Friedan, Karen DeCrow, Aileen Hernandez, Suzanne Haney, Charlotte Wolf, Toni Carabillo, and Jo Freeman, concerning their activities in celebration of the women's strike in 1970. There are several folders of correspondence and printed material relating to Bernard's speeches.

Series II, Correspondence (#2.7-3.2), contains letters relating to Bernard's work in the women's movement, excluding her roles in the National Organization for Women.

Series III, National Organization for Women (NOW) (#3.3-6.3), contains correspondence, including requests for information about NOW (often including explanations of why the information is sought, as well as biographical details), minutes, membership lists, newsletters, and chapter charters. Some of the papers relate to her roles at the national level, but the majority focus on Bernard's role as Western Regional Director.

Series IV, Other Organizations and Interests (#6.4-7.2), includes correspondence, brochures, mailing lists, and printed material. The brochures are from various organizations and events Bernard collected, but in which she had no evident role. Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically.

Series V, North Orange County Community College District (#7.3-7.5), includes correspondence, clippings, and surveys relating to Fullerton College and Cypress Junior College, where Bernard taught. The surveys, concerning the needs of students, many of whom were older women, were designed by Bernard in 1969, and completed by her students.

Most of the papers in this collection were created under the name of Shirley Bernard, but there are some created under her married name of Shirley Agress.

Folder headings are those of Bernard unless otherwise noted; archivist's headings and notes are in square brackets. All printed material by or about Bernard, as well as all printed material with annotations, has been kept in the collection. Other NOW publications and reports, except those created by Bernard, were transferred to the NOW records in the Schlesinger Library. Non-NOW printed material produced by mainstream organizations and publications was discarded; leaflets and other ephemera of small, transient organizations were retained.


Shirley Bernard, educator, was born in New York City April 11, 1923. She received her B.A. in speech from Brooklyn College (1959), her master's degree in English from New York University (1960), and her Ph.D. in women's studies from Union Graduate School (1975). Beginning in 1962, Bernard taught English and women's studies at Fullerton College. She was married to and divorced from Sherwood Agress; they have one son, David .

Bernard is a member of the American Association of University Professors, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, the American Association in Junior Community Colleges, and the National Women's Studies Association. She was a founder of the Fullerton College Commission for Women's Concerns (1974) and served as president in 1976. She was a founding member of California Women in Higher Education (1973) and served as president in 1977. She was a founder of the California chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus (1973). In the National Organization for Women, she has served as membership chairman of the Western Region (1967), National Board member (1968-1972), National Executive Committee member (1970-1972), and Western Regional Director (1970-1972).


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Writings, Speeches, and Biographical (#1.1-2.6)
  2. Series II. Correspondence (#2.7-3.2)
  3. Series III. National Organization for Women (NOW) (#3.3-6.3)
  4. Series IV. Other Organizations and Interests (#6.4-7.2)
  5. Series V. North Orange County Community College District (#7.3-7.5)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 99-M63, 99-M118, 99-M134, 2002-M77, 2002-M88

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Shirley Bernard between 1999 and 2002..

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Shirley Bernard, The Women's Strike: August 26, 1970 (MC 301).


Donors: Shirley Bernard

Accession number: 99-M118

Processed by: Johanna Carll

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. 1 reel audio tape of Vietnamese women discussing the women's movement in Vietnam. Cataloged as T-308.
  2. Five calendars. Transferred to the Schlesinger Library calendar collection.
  3. One poster. Transferred to the Schlesinger Library poster collection.

Processing Information

Processed: October 2002

By: Johanna Carll



Bernard, Shirley, 1923- . Papers of NOW officer Shirley Bernard, 1966-1981: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
These papers were processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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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