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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 500

Records of the Women's Equity Action League, 1967-1990


Addenda to the records of the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), a national membership organization with state affiliates, founded in 1968 and dedicated to improving the status and lives of all women primarily through education, litigation, and legislation.


  • Creation: 1967-1990

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. The agreement between the Library and WEAL was signed in 1974, and revised in 1978 and 1981; the agreement between the Library and the WEAL Fund was signed in 1979 and revised in 1980. Most of the restrictions on research use have now expired, though several record types are still restricted or closed, as specified below. Individual folders with access limitations are so marked in the finding aid.

Access to the following types of WEAL records is restricted as indicated; users of restricted records must sign a special permission form, and restricted records may not be photocopied.

  1. Contributor lists and membership records (these appear in several series): restricted to past national officers, board members, and executive directors for 50 years from date of creation;
  2. Nominating Committee records for 1980-1986 (#4.1, 4.11-4.14): closed until January 1, 2009;
  3. Legal records (#27.24-27.26, 27.45-44.47, 69.1-69.2), with the exception of those folders containing only briefs, depositions, and other public documents, and thus open to research use): restricted for 20 years from date of creation to those past national officers, board members, and executive directors who sign a special permission form; after the expiration of the 20-year restriction, the special permission form remains in use for an additional 20 years;
  4. Minutes of the WEAL Fund Board (#14.1-15.8): restricted for 50 years from date of creation to those past national officers, board members, and executive directors who sign a special permission form; after the expiration of the 50-year restriction, the special permission form remains in use for an additional 20 years;
  5. Requests for information from military ex-spouses (#58.37-59.18): closed until January 1, 2037;
  6. Personnel and intern records (#19.12, 19.15, 19.16, 48.18-48.26, 61.37-61.39): closed to all except the individual involved and the last president or her designee, until the employee/intern reaches 90 years of age or is deceased.
  7. In addition to these groupings of records, individual documents, access to which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, have been temporarily removed and closed to research use.

In 2014, the restriction on legal records (#27.24-27.26, 27.45-44.47, 69.1-69.2) was reviewed; most files had been closed for 50 years from date of creation, and this was changed to 20 years from date of creation. The special permission form is still in effect for most of these files until 40 years from date of creation.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in records created by WEAL is to be determined. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Records in open files may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures. Restricted records may not be photocopied.


79.46 linear feet ((78 cartons, 3+1/2 file boxes) plus 6 folio folders, 3 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 37 folders of photographs)

In 1981, under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (#79-4), archivists Katherine Kraft and Zephorene Stickney processed the records given to the library by WEAL between 1975 and 1979. Incorporation records and by-laws, board minutes, mailings, annual conference material, and publications from that collection (MC 311) have been removed and integrated with WEAL's previously unprocessed addenda to create this new WEAL archive. (Folders of correspondence within MC 311 remain intact, with their original folder numbers, to facilitate citation tracking.) Also included here are the records of the WEAL Legal Defense and Education Fund (WEAL Fund), WEAL's tax-exempt sister. The two organizations merged in 1981. Because they shared an office, and often corresponded with the same people, many documents within files were intermingled.

The records were received over 23 years from the national office and officers of both WEAL and the WEAL Fund. Although some types of records were filed together, many were spread out between the numerous accessions. There were no complete sets of minutes, financial statements, mailings or publications; with the exception of the financial records, the gaps are now filled. The archivists have created 26 non-hierarchical series, as outlined and described below. Where possible, the records of WEAL and the WEAL Fund have been separated and described in their own series (incorporation records, minutes, mailings, financial records); most series, however, contain records of both organizations. Information on WEAL's policies, activities, budgets, etc., are found throughout the collection, with overlap and duplication of documents within and between series; documents duplicated in separate folders were not removed if doing so would destroy context. Most folder headings are those of WEAL and the WEAL Fund; headings and other information added by the archivists appear in square brackets.

Oversized items and photographs (and some memorabilia) have been transferred to separate series. Oversized items have been photocopied and reduced in size; reference copies are filed in subject-appropriate folders, and originals placed in Series XXVI. Most of the photographs in this collection will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as parts of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back by an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Audiotapes were removed and cataloged separately; see WEAL Audiotapes (T-126).

Series and subseries descriptions that follow the outline below are repeated at the beginning of their respective file unit listings. For series restrictions, see Terms of Use.

Series I, WEAL ORGANIZATION AND POLICY, 1968-1989 (#1.1-1.38), includes articles of incorporation; by-laws; "policy notebooks: sign-ons" (position papers by others endorsed by WEAL and or WEAL Fund, letters by WEAL and others to government officials about proposed or recent legislation); testimonies (see also #79.21-79.42); officers manual (1976 version retained; content of updates changed only in newsletters and annual meeting resolutions, and were discarded); correspondence, notes and related documents collected for histories of national WEAL and state affiliates (#1.27-1.36); and correspondence about placement of the WEAL archive (#1.37-1.38). Of particular note are documents in #1.27, about WEAL's break from the National Organization for Women. Originally in MC 311, this folder now includes an additional analytical paper by Elizabeth Boyer and Lynn Sikora, entitled "Thoughts for Organization," written in late 1967 or early 1968.

Series II, WEAL ADMINISTRATION, 1968-1989 (#1.39-6.55), contains records of the Board and Advisory Board; it is divided into seven subseries.

Subseries A, Lists of officers, Board members, Board minutes (#1.39-3.16), includes lists of Board members, and records of Board and Executive Committee meetings. Types of records vary by meeting, and in addition to minutes, may include committee reports, mailings, agendas, activity reports by board members, and correspondence with Board members and staff. Most meetings were held in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area; locations of meetings held elsewhere are specified. A master set of minutes (#81.1-81.8) is closed to research; use reference copies (#2.1-3.16).

Subseries B, Board mailings (#3.17-3.46), includes agendas for upcoming meetings, reports from committees, copies of letters to government officials and others, etc., sent to the Board or Executive Committee by the national office or individual officers. National office mailings to the Board concern the actual work of the office (November 1976 - November 1977). Minutes of meetings were transferred to Subseries A.

Subseries C, Board operations (#3.47-4.4), contains surveys of the Board; annotated ballots on several issues (affirmative ballots without comments were discarded); correspondence with consultants about WEAL's administration (#3.49), and between Board members about program priorities; records about Board development and the merger of WEAL and the WEAL Fund (#4.2.-4.3); and strategic planning.

Subseries D, Board biographies and correspondence; Nominating Committee (#4.5-4.68), has extensive records, including correspondence, notes, ballots, etc., as well as biographical information on candidates. In addition to committee records arranged chronologically, there is an alphabetical arrangement of mostly outgoing letters to Board members, also with some biographical information, for both WEAL and the WEAL Fund. Nominating Committee records for 1980 to 1986 (#4.11-4.14) are closed until January 1, 2009. There are additional Nominating Committee records (1971-1979) in MC 311.

Subseries E, Board administrative committees (#5.1-5.10), includes records of Board committees, with the exception of Division Development (see #9.46-10.2), Membership (see #9.1-9.5), and Nominating (see #4.5-4.19). Several committees focus on WEAL's structure. "Committee X," or the Committee on the Organization of the National Office, was chaired by Paula Treder, with members Arvonne Fraser, Eileen Thornton, and Doris Seward (ex officio). They were charged with systematizing the work and structure of the office, and coordinating the functions and regulations of the Board and membership. The records contain detailed correspondence and memos about office operations, suggestions for improvement, and discussions about membership recruitment and WEAL goals, among other topics.

Subseries F, Board issue committees (#5.11-6.13), contains correspondence, reports, press releases, questionnaires, etc., addressing various topics and created by WEAL's often short-lived committees. With the exception of the Education Committee, they are sparsely represented. Folders are arranged alphabetically by committee name. MC 311 includes earlier (and in some cases, overlapping) records of these committees.

Subseries G, Advisory Board (#6.14-6.55), contains lists of members, biographical information, and correspondence, arranged alphabetically. MC 311 (#48-49) contains early Advisory Board correspondence.

Series III, WEAL FINANCIAL, 1969-1989 (#6.56-8.71), appears to be incomplete. It is divided into four subseries.

Subseries A, Statements, taxes, etc. (#6.56-7.5), includes ledgers (for 1974-1976 and 1978); audits; internal statements and reports; a sampling of invoices and expenses; and correspondence.

Subseries B, Fundraising and development (#7.6-7.13), contains correspondence, reports, information about mailings, and proposals about increasing membership and contributions to WEAL.

Subseries C, Fundraising: Annual Awards Dinner (#7.14-8.64), includes programs (1978-1986), correspondence and other records (1979-1989). Beginning in 1978, WEAL held annual awards dinners in New York City to "honor America's outstanding women in business and labor." WEAL presented Economic Equity Awards, also known as Big WEAL Awards, to accomplished women from a variety of professional fields, including advertising, public relations, women's business enterprises, consumer products, labor, media, and advertising.

Programs (#7.14-7.21) include photographs and biographies of honorees, lists of dinner and dinner advisory committee members, and lists of or advertisements from the event's sponsors. Some programs also include lists of WEAL board members and staff.

General planning records for these annual dinners (#7.22-7.56) contain correspondence, lists of invitees and donors, and some nominations for Economic Equity/Big WEAL Awards. Following these general records are files on "Big WEALs," arranged alphabetically by surname (#8.1-8.63). These files contain award-winners' nomination forms, biographical information and portraits for publication in the dinner program, and correspondence. The bulk of the correspondence in these files relates specifically to attendance at WEAL's Annual Awards Dinners; some correspondence relates to periodic "Big WEAL" meetings or other business. Recipients of the Economic Equity/Big WEAL Award recipients were: Grace Fippinger, Tina Santi Flaherty, Dorothy Gregg, Odessa Komer, Dorothy Orr, Nancy Reynolds, Anne Saunier, Muriel Siebert (November 30, 1978); Rena Bartos, Mary Covington, Phyllis Davis, Doris Haywood, Marion Kellogg, Irmgard Kramer, Joyce Miller, Frances Preston, Satenig St. Marie, Marina Whitman (October 11, 1979); Margaret Adams, Ariel Allen, Virginia Dwyer, Jo Foxworth, Alice Hennessy, Sherry Lansing, G.G. Michelson, Linda Wachner, Addie Wyatt (October 9, 1980); Patricia Stillwell Cook, Kitty D'Alessio, Frankie Hewitt, Gloria Tapscott Johnson, Jewell Jackson McCabe, Irene Pave, Beverly Wadsworth (September 21, 1981); Mary Cunningham, Evelyn Dubrow, Jane Evans, Madie Ivy, Sandra Meyer, Ernesta Procope, Geraldine Rhoads, Shirley Young (October 20, 1982); Ruth Block, Loretta Bowen, Barbara Dixon, Betty Ruth Hollander, Katie Rand Lloyd, M. Jacqueline McCurdy, Sally Ride, Julie Montgomery Walsh (October 20, 1983); Doris Etelson, Carol Parry, Barbara G. Proctor, Rosemarie Sena, Ellen Sulzberger Straus (November 1, 1984); Joan Baggett, Madelyn Pulver Jennings, Marilyn Laurie, Louise Quarles Lawson, Jean Way Schoonover (October 9, 1985); Cathleen Black, Katharine Darrow, Barbara Easterling, Patricia Hillman, Karen Katen (November 6, 1986).

Subseries D, Fundraising: other events (#8.65-8.71), includes correspondence, invitations, lists of invitees, etc., for tributes to Arvonne Fraser, Bernice Sandler, and Carol Foreman; an ERA benefit; and book parties for Robin Hardy and Jessie Bernard (books donated, with proceeds from sales going to WEAL).

Series IV, WEAL MEMBERSHIP, 1968-1989 (#8.72-9.33), contains statistics; reports; correspondence of the Membership Committee (#9.1-9.5); membership surveys (#9.13-9.15); correspondence and memos about membership development; membership lists (restricted for 50 years from date of creation to past national officers, board members and executive directors who sign a special permission form); and mailings to members (#9.26-9.31) and non-members (#9.32-9.33). There are additional membership records (1968-1979) in MC 311.

Series V, WEAL STATE AFFILIATES, 1971-1990 (#9.34-13.11), is divided into two subseries, and contains lists of presidents and convenors; convenor kits; records of the Division Development Committee; mailings to presidents and convenors; and records of the state affiliates, as described below.

The New York Division became the first state affiliate in 1970; there were 16 state divisions by the end of 1971. Although a few affiliates (most notably the National Capital Chapter in the District of Columbia, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas) became well established and productive, most existed for short time periods, eventually disintegrating. The most frequently cited reason for dissolution was the heavy professional commitments of the officers, leaving no time for WEAL-sponsored work.

After the merger of WEAL and WEAL Fund in 1981, WEAL attempted to revive the affiliates, writing a new affiliation agreement as a contract between national WEAL and individual states. The records of state affiliates contain correspondence and memos; testimony before state governments; minutes; newsletters; programs (from WEAL and other organizations); discrimination reports and statistics; legal cases; membership correspondence and lists (restricted for 50 years from date of creation to past national officers, board members and executive directors who sign a special permission form); financial reports; lists of officers; some affiliation agreements; and documents relating to grants and contracts awarded to WEAL on the state level. The dates in the folder descriptions do not necessarily correspond to the dates of the affiliates' existence. State folders sometimes contain only correspondence with individuals asking for information, or expressing interest in starting a chapter.

Subseries A, Administrative (#9.34-10.11), includes lists of presidents, convenors, and contacts; convenor kits; correspondence of the Division Development Committee chairs Carolyn Goodwin (#9.46), Elizabeth Boyer (#9.47-9.48), and Polly Meinzen (#9.49-10.2); and mailings (1970-1980) to state presidents and convenors (#10.6-10.11). National Office monthly mailings include "status reports and other material at the discretion of national chairs and officers and copies of all WEAL testimony during the month."

Subseries B, Records (#10.12-13.11), documents contact between national WEAL and the local affiliates, and have been combined into one alphabetical list by state. The records were originally in three separate groupings, which are reflected in the folder contents (and in notes on the folders themselves): one, dubbed "Historical" by WEAL, covers the years 1971-1975. The other two file sequences, consisting of one rather comprehensive set of state correspondence files, and one set of state affiliation agreements (mixed with correspondence about WEAL grants), were merged by the archivist, and cover the years 1976-1989. The series is arranged alphabetically by state; chapter records for Metropolitan D.C. and the National Capital Chapter (NCC) are filed under the District of Columbia. There are extensive chapter records (kept by the chapters themselves, and not the national office) for the NCC (apparently files of Arvonne Fraser and Ellen Overton); Michigan (files of Carol Grossman); and New Jersey (files of Eileen Thornton). The NCC chapter records also include minutes, newsletters, attendance lists, and other materials by the Nameless Sisterhood, an "intellectual consciousness raising group" in the Washington, D.C. area. There are additional records of the affiliates (1970-1972) in MC 311.

Series VI, FUND ORGANIZATION AND POLICY, 1972-1981 (#13.12-13.18), contains incorporation records and by-laws; summaries of Fund Board policies (#13.14); history; and lists of Board and Advisory Board members. (For additional information about policies, many of which were shared with WEAL, see Series I.)

Series VII, FUND BOARD, 1971-1981 (#13.19-13.43, 14.1-15.8), includes minutes and related meeting records; correspondence with and about and biographical information of Board nominees; and mailings to the Board and Advisory Board. For additional correspondence with Board members and potential members, see Series II, Subseries D. Minutes often include summaries of legal cases under consideration for Fund support, and are restricted for 50 years from date of creation to past national officers, board members and executive directors who sign a special permission form. A master set of minutes (#81.9-81.12) is closed to research; those with access should use reference copies (#14.1-15.8).

Series VIII, FUND FINANCIAL, 1971-1982 (#13.44-13.50, 16.1-17.23), is apparently incomplete. There are scattered financial statements, budgets and audits. More complete information may be found in the mailings to the Board. Most of this series covers fundraising and development activities, and contains lists of contributors (closed 50 years from date of creation); development files, with cumulative contribution data, correspondence, proposals by consultants, direct mail, etc; fundraising events, including book parties; and fundraising mailings.

Series IX, NATIONAL OFFICE, 1972-1989 (#17.24-18.30, OD.2), contains records of both WEAL and WEAL Fund, and is divided into four subseries.

Subseries A, Executive Directors' correspondence, 1971-1989 (#17.21-18.16), contains correspondence, resumés, clippings, etc., of various WEAL and WEAL Fund Executive Directors. Most of the correspondence is between the Executive Director and Board members, although there are some letters shared amongst Board members for approval. Files are arranged chronologically by dates of service of creator, then alphabetically by folder title.

Subseries B, Office operations (#18.17-18.23, OD.2), includes letterhead; guides to the library (filing system, newsletters and books received); and information about leases, insurance, and data processing.

Subseries C, Personnel issues (#18.24-19.11), contains personnel policies and procedures; job descriptions and lists of staff and volunteers; Staff Relations Committee report (1978); specific achievements of staff members; salary/benefits survey comparing WEAL with other non-profits (1984); extensive staff meeting reports (weekly for most of each year, 1976-1988), with listings by staff members of accomplishments, task allocations and decisions made at meetings (#18.31-19.7); a few daily and phone logs, time sheets, monthly to-do lists; and annotated calendars (March 1979 – February 1981).

Subseries D, Personnel files (#19.12-19.16), contains correspondence, resumes, and related information about specific employees. Information of a private nature (evaluations, etc.) is closed to all except the individual involved and the last president or her designee, until the employee reaches 90 years of age or is deceased.

Series X, OFFICERS, 1970-1986 (#19.17-21.25), contains the records of some of WEAL's presidents, secretaries, and other officers. The bulk of these records are memos with other WEAL leadership and correspondence with outside individuals and organizations. In a few cases, however, officers' memos and correspondence are supplemented with other records: Cristine Candela's files (#19.22-20.9) contain planning documents relating to WEAL's 1980 Annual Awards Dinner, including extensive notes as well as meeting and telephone logs. Carol Burroughs Grossman's files (#20.18-20.52) reflect her work both as National President and with Michigan WEAL (see also #11.30-11.32). Eileen Thornton's files (#21.14-21.25) include many articles featured in local newspapers about her and New Jersey WEAL (see also #12.10-12.12). Records of the National Capitol Chapter contain additional Arvonne Fraser correspondence and related material (see #10.43-10.44, especially). Also included are speeches given at various conferences and group meetings by several officers: Elizabeth Boyer, Cristine Candela, Arvonne Fraser, and Eileen Thornton. Individuals sometimes held more than one office over the course of their affiliation with WEAL, and their records reflect these changes in position. This series is arranged alphabetically by surname.

Series XI, CONFERENCES AND OTHER WEAL EVENTS, 1971-1989 (#21.26-23.32), contains records relating to WEAL's national membership conferences and Elizabeth Boyer Awards. It also contains records from conferences in which WEAL staff participated as panelists, attendees, or organizers and other events. It is divided into four subseries.

Subseries A, Programs, 1971-1980 (#21.26-21.35), includes programs from WEAL's national conferences. All conference programs include information on workshop moderators and participants. National conference programs for 1978 and 1979 provide letters of welcome from the WEAL president and other officers, lists of accomplishments, goals, and publications, advertisements from conference sponsors and, in the 1978 program, lists of board and committee members, staff, and state presidents.

Subseries B, National conferences, 1969-1987 (#21.36-23.2). Conferences were held annually for members to participate in workshops and panels, and pass resolutions to guide WEAL's actions in the upcoming year. Conferences were held in Washington, D.C. (December 2-3, 1971), Washington, D.C. (December 1-3, 1972), San Francisco, California (November 30-December 2, 1973), Washington, D.C. (December 6-8, 1974), Cleveland, Ohio (May 2-4, 1975), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (May 7-9, 1976), Washington, D.C. (April 29-May 1, 1977), Washington, D.C. (May 5-7, 1978), Washington, D.C. (May 3-6, 1979), and Dearborn, Michigan (May 2-5, 1980). This subseries contains planning records, mailings from the national office, meeting agendas and minutes, reports from the President and committee chairs, proposed and passed resolutions, election materials (including nominee biographies and vote tallies), and registration lists (restricted until January 1, 2040 to past national officers, board members and executive directors who sign a special permission form).

Subseries C, Elizabeth Boyer Awards, 1974-1989 (#23.3-23.19) contains correspondence, memos, and notes relating to the Elizabeth Boyer Award, established in 1974 in honor of WEAL's founder and presented annually at WEAL's national conference. The recipients of the Elizabeth Boyer Award were: Marguerite Rawalt (1974), Betty Ford (1975), Bernice Sandler (1976), Rosalynn Carter (1977), Martha Griffiths (1978), Sarah Weddington (1979), Elizabeth Duncan Koontz (1980), Ellen Goodman (1981), Catherine East (1983), Arvonne Fraser (1984), Ruth Weyand (1985), Karen Keesling (1986), Sarah McClendon (1987), Johnnetta Cole (1988). This subseries also includes Board members' ballots for the 1980 Elizabeth Boyer Award, biographical information on award winners, and related press clippings.

Subseries D, Other conferences and events, 1977-1981 (#23.20-23.31) contains records from conferences in which WEAL staff participated as panelists, attendees, or organizers, other WEAL sponsored fund-raising receptions and events. These files are arranged in chronological order.

Series XII, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1971-1989 (#23.33-26.50), is divided into two subseries, chronological and subject.

Subseries A, Chronological correspondence, 1971-1989 (#23.33-26.20), contains mostly outgoing letters from both WEAL and WEAL Fund. There are carbon copies of responses to requests for information which may also be found in other series, such as SPRINT, legal cases, etc. There are also carbon copies of inter-office memos, mass mailings, and general letters. A small number of original letters of a general nature are also located in this subseries.

Subseries B, Subject correspondence, 1976-1989 (#26.21-26.50), contains correspondence relating to specific topics, organizations, and requests for information. Included are a series of "golden letters," which are letters of praise for WEAL. The requests for information are a sampling of the thousands of letters originally found in this collection. Included with the requests for information are requests for information about financial assistance for education, and a program that became known as "Better Late Than Never," which provided lists of financial resources available to women attending college later in life. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title.

Additional correspondence can be found throughout the collection. Earlier correspondence can be found in MC 311, Series VIII.

Series XIII, LEGAL, 1971-1989 (#27.1-41.16), contains files relating to WEAL and WEAL Fund's legal program. These include general administrative and reference files, correspondence and memoranda, notes, printed material, "Requests for Information," "Requests for Legal Support," and court documents. Some records (#27.24-27.26, 27.45-44.47, with the exception of those folders containing only briefs, depositions, and other public documents, and thus open to research use; #69.1-69.2) are restricted for 50 years from date of creation to those past national officers, board members, and executive directors who sign a special permission form; after the expiration of the 50-year restriction, the special permission form remains in use for an additional 20 years. This series is divided into four subseries.

Subseries A, General administrative files, 1973-1989 (#27.1-27.45), contains files relating to the everyday operation of WEAL and WEAL Fund's legal program. Included are files on various topics, including abortion, athletics, higher education and Title IX, and lists of attorneys, press contacts, and universities facing sex discrimination charges. Also contained in this subseries are summaries of cases of interest to WEAL, including summaries of closed (i.e., completed) WEAL-supported cases (#27.45), higher education cases (#27.12-27.17), and athletics cases (#27.41). Several folders (#27.24-27.26, 27.45) require researchers to sign a special permission form until 40 years from the date of creation. This subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Requests for information, 1971-1989 (#27.46-30.38), contains correspondence, notes, and request forms relating to individuals' letters and telephone calls requesting information or assistance from WEAL Fund. Most folders (#27.46-30.31) require researchers to sign a special permission form until 40 years from the date of creation.

After handling requests, staff often completed forms, "Request for Information from WEAL Fund," that provided information about the person making the inquiry, the category and nature of their request, and the staff person's response. More specifically, these forms usually include information identifying the individual seeking information or assistance (such as name, organizational affiliation, mailing address, and telephone number), name of the individual or organization that referred the individual to WEAL Fund, the date the request was answered (either by telephone or post), and the amount of time spent on the request. Requests for Information were also categorized by subject(s), including divorce, sexual harassment, battered women, federal policy, etc. WEAL Fund staff summarized the problem and subsequent action taken. Actions were sometimes referrals to local organizations or attorneys, routine mailings of publication order forms, fact sheets, or description of the Legal Support Program of WEAL Fund and an application for legal support.

These files are arranged in reverse chronological order. Between 1979 and 1981, however, when WEAL Fund maintained two sets of files relating to Requests for Information--one of outgoing letters in reverse chronological order and a second of correspondence in alphabetical order by the surname of individuals requesting information--alphabetical files immediately follow their corresponding chronological files.

Subseries C, Requests for legal support, 1973-1989 (#30.39-31.42), contains WEAL Fund and WEAL Legal Committee meeting minutes, correspondence, and memoranda relating to the selection of cases for financial or legal support. Members of the Legal Committee voted for or against supporting a case either in committee meetings or by mail-in ballots. Also included in this subseries are requests for legal support that WEAL rejected and related correspondence (#31.23-31.42). Most folders (#30.39-31.13, 31.16-31.42) require researchers to sign a special permission form until 40 years from the date of creation.

WEAL Fund and WEAL maintained a central file on cases they elected to support. "Dockets [summaries of WEAL-supported cases], 1976-1989" (#30.39) provides both synopses of supported cases and a listing of these cases by subject. Subjects include abortion, age discrimination, athletics, child custody, education, employment (general, state and federal government, educational), marriage and divorce, military, and sexual harassment. WEAL supported several cases relating to sex discrimination in higher education; included among these are cases brought by female faculty in the sciences, fine arts, and vocational education. For more information on these cases, see Subseries D.

Subseries D, Legal cases, 1972-1989 (#32.1-41.16), contains files on court cases for which WEAL Fund and WEAL provided some form of support. In some cases, WEAL took direct part in litigation, acting as plaintiff or plaintiff-intervenor. In other cases, WEAL prepared amicus briefs or joined the amicus brief prepared by another organization, such as the National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Women's Law Center, National Abortion Rights Action League, or the American Civil Liberties Union. WEAL sometimes provided financial assistance to legal cases either by giving direct grants or lending WEAL Fund's (and, after the 1981 merger, WEAL's) tax-exempt status to individuals, thereby allowing them to create a "fund within a fund" to raise money to defray costs related to litigation.

The contents of individual case files vary, depending upon the form of support WEAL provided. Almost every file includes the litigant's or litigants' Request for Support (described in the inventory as "request form") and related background material and correspondence. Many files include amicus briefs WEAL or WEAL Fund either prepared or joined and other court documents. Files on cases for which a "fund within a fund" was created may contain financial records, such as ledgers and correspondence with donors, printed material related to fundraising efforts, and clippings. Many folders require researchers to sign a special permission form until 40 years from the date of creation. Files are arranged alphabetically by plaintiff.

Series XIV, LEGAL: WEAL ORDER, 1970-1989 (#42.1-46.17), contains records relating to WEAL's participation in litigation seeking improvement of the government's administration of anti-discrimination laws and statutes, including, among others, Executive Order 11375 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

In November 1974, the Women's Equity Action League, National Organization for Women, National Education Association, Federation of Organizations of Professional Women, Association of Women in Science, Elizabeth Farians,Verna Wittrock,Carolyn Weiss, and Marna Tucker filed a complaint against officers of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), the Office of Civil Rights, the United States Department of Labor, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. The plaintiffs charged that "in repeated and continuing derogation of their duty, defendants have failed to administer these [anti-discrimination] laws to ensure that all persons who are students in, or employed by or seeking employment with educational institutions are given equal opportunities regardless of sex."

In 1977, United States District Court Judge John Pratt issued an order requiring the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to process and investigate discrimination charges in a timely manner. In March 1982, however, the plaintiffs charged that the government agencies were not complying with the 1977 order, also known as the WEAL Order. This charge resulted in the amendment of the original order, requiring that all investigations must end in finding an institution either in compliance or noncompliance with anti-discrimination laws.

This series contains general correspondence, memoranda and notes; legal briefs; and files on various educational institutions, including formal complaints of sex discrimination, related correspondence and notes, and letters and statements of findings resulting from the Office of Civil Rights' investigations and reviews of compliance with anti-discrimination laws. It is divided into four subseries. Subseries A through Subseries C contain many folders that require researchers to sign a special permission form until 40 years from the date of creation.

Subseries A, General, 1973-1989 (#42.1-43.16), contains correspondence, memos, notes, and other working documents. This subseries begins with court briefs, correspondence, and publicity files. Briefs, including the 1974 complaint and the 1977 order, are arranged in reverse chronological order (#42.1-42.16). Correspondence files include letters from attorneys from the Women's Legal Defense Fund and the Women's Rights Project of the Center for Law and Social Policy. Subsequent files are arranged alphabetically by title. Included is one semi-annual report (1987) to WEAL from the United States Department of Labor detailing complaint investigations and compliance reviews at institutions of higher education (#43.5-43.8). Some folders (#42.17-42.26, 43.1-43.4, 43.9-43.16) require researchers to sign a special permission form until 40 years from the date of creation.

Subseries B, Complaints, 1970-1974 (#43.17-43.67), contains WEAL's formal complaints against educational institutions and related organizations (i.e., Phi Delta Kappa and Alpha Kappa Psi) between 1970 and 1974 and reflects WEAL's efforts to gather evidence of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's ineffectiveness in dealing with sex-discrimination complaints. All folders were originally filed individually by institution name. In many cases, these contain correspondence, notes, or clippings relating to WEAL's and individuals' complaints. Files on other institutions that contained only WEAL's complaint have been combined into a single alphabetical file (#43.17). Following this file, the subseries is arranged in alphabetical order by institution or organization name.

Subseries C, Post-1974, 1974-1986 (#43.68-44.47), contains files on educational institutions after WEAL et al.'s 1974 complaint. Files include the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's responses to earlier charges of sex discrimination, new complaints, correspondence with complainants, related court documents, and reports and printed materials from universities' and colleges' various task forces and committees relating to the status of women. Most folders require researchers to sign a special permission form until 40 years from the date of creation. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by institution name.

Subseries D, Letters of Finding, 1980-1985 (#44.48-46.17), contains letters and statements resulting from the Office of Civil Rights' investigations and reviews of compliance with anti-discrimination laws in the 1980s. Unless otherwise marked, these letters and statements deal with sex discrimination in college athletics; those relating to sex discrimination in hiring, admissions, or financial aid are labeled "non-athletic" and are arranged by region.

Series XV, LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM, 1971-1989 (#46.18-46.48), contains national conference resolutions on WEAL's legislative goals, program reports, correspondence, and other documents relating to the organization's lobbying efforts. Legislative Committee correspondence (#46.20-46.23) includes letters between WEAL staff as well as letters to Congress. "Legislative replies" (#46.31-46.34) contains form letters from members of Congress only, informing WEAL of their position on House or Senate bills. Lobbying materials (#46.38) include reports filed by WEAL in compliance with the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1946, which detail WEAL's legislative interests, publications, and lobbying expenses. This series is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Series XVI, INTERN PROGRAM, 1973-1989 (#47.1-48.39), contains grant proposals, reports, correspondence, notes, information sheets, etc., relating to the administration of the intern program. The program, originally funded by the Ford Foundation, allowed WEAL to offer a small stipend to students and volunteers to assist WEAL staff with research, create fact sheets, and coordinate with other public interest groups in the Washington, D.C., area. Interns ranged in age from 15 to 70 and included students at all levels of education, recent graduates, women returning to the work force, and retired women. A special effort was made to recruit minority and low income women. The goals of the program were to "develop and carry out innovative studies, prepare and publish informational kits in the areas of education, employment and the legal and economic rights of women, monitor the implementation and enforcement of federal programs of interest to or having special impact on women and coordinating with other public interest groups while, at the same time, teaching the volinterns [volunteers/interns] something about work, staffing of an organization and administration" (see initial proposal #47.1). Interns were generally employed for four months working on various topics (see Series XVIII). Files are arranged with reports and proposals in chronological order first, followed by an alphabetical arrangement of all other files. Numerous simple requests for information were discarded; a sample of the letters, mainly from college students, can be found in #48.32. Several applications and resumes of applicants who were not accepted into the program were also discarded. Folders containing applications, recommendations, evaluations, etc. (#48.18-48.26), are closed to all except the individual involved or the last president or her designee, until intern reaches 90 years of age or is deceased.

Series XVII, INTERN WORKING FILES, 1970-1989 (#50.1-56.37), contains correspondence, notes, reports, fact sheets, etc., used, and in many cases, created, by WEAL interns on assigned research topics (e.g., the Civil Rights Restoration Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Parental Medical Leave Act, and reproductive rights). Although the interns were assigned to specific departments (i.e., legal, legislative), their identities and departments are often impossible to determine. Many interns worked on the same topic; files with the same title often have overlapping dates. Files often contain the notes and correspondence of the WEAL staff members. Since many of the intern files already included WEAL library documents (identifiable by their Dewey Decimal numbers), the archivist integrated what remained of the library files (after weeding out readily available materials) into corresponding intern files. Files are first arranged alphabetically by topic, rather than folder title. For instance, disability insurance, Medicare, and a variety of proposed Congressional bills are all filed under "health insurance." Within each topic, files chronologically arranged precede those arranged alphabetically by folder heading. Also included in this series are transition packets of information for incoming interns.

Series XVIII, PROJECTS, 1974-1989 (#57.1-59.30), contains correspondence, questionnaires, notes, reports, etc., relating to projects either proposed or run by WEAL. It is divided into four subseries, arranged chronologically.

Subseries A, International Resource Center, 1975-1976 (#57.1-57.33), contains correspondence, reports, notes, questionnaires, etc. It is unclear from the records whether this project was ever funded. The files represent WEAL's efforts to determine the feasibility of, and later to obtain funding for, a resource center that would address international women's issues through the collection and distribution of information. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Miscellaneous, 1974-1988 (#57.34-57.47), contains correspondence, grant proposals, reports, etc. Some of these projects resulted in written reports, while others appear to have failed to receive funding. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries C, Women and the Military Project, 1979-1989 (#58.1-59.22), contains correspondence, fact sheets, reports, kits, etc. The project, directed by Carolyn Becraft, was funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation, and was founded in 1981 to collect and analyze information concerning women in the military, as well as wives of servicemen. It also sought to influence public policy through the distribution of information to Congress, the Department of Defense, women's groups, and the general public. A major focus of the project was helping the former spouses of servicemen understand the laws regarding their rights to a portion of their spouses' military pensions. Upon WEAL's dissolution, the subject files from this project were donated to the Minerva Center. The remaining files contain mostly correspondence and are arranged alphabetically. Requests for information from military ex-spouses ( #58.37-59.18) are closed until January 1, 2037.

Subseries D, World Plan of Action, 1975-1978 (#59.23-59.30), contains correspondence, reports, and French and Spanish translations of WEAL's summary of the United Nation's World Plan of Action. Most of the correspondence is from recipients, many in foreign countries, offering their thanks and detailing how the summary will help them. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series XIX contains the records of The Sports Project Referral and Information Network (SPRINT), 1970-1983 (#60.1-72.30). SPRINT, created and run by WEAL Fund (and later by WEAL) from 1975 to 1983, collected and distributed information on women and girls in sports, particularly in educational institutions, and monitored legal and political developments, model programs, and trends in women's physical education and athletics. SPRINT functions were handled by a variety of WEAL interns and volunteers until 1977, when grant funds allowed them to hire staff to answer requests for information through the mail and via the SPRINT toll-free hotline, and to publish In the Running, a newsletter that provided updated information on events relating to women and sports. Marguerite Beck-Rex, and later Char Mollison, were SPRINT project directors. Further information on the staff can be found in In the Running. In addition to its own staff, SPRINT had its own advisory committee of seven members, including Marcia Federbush and Billye Cheatum. A grant from the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Office of Education under the Women's Educational Equity Act Program funded SPRINT from 1977 to 1979. From 1979 to 1983, funding was provided by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), as well as contributions from the Bendix Corporation, Sears, Roebuck, and Company, the United Auto Workers, and individual donations. SPRINT became defunct in 1983 after failing to secure further funds.

SPRINT records contain correspondence, grant proposals and applications, clippings, publications, etc. Some documents created before SPRINT began operation were used by staff as reference materials. Records are arranged in four subseries.

Subseries A, Administrative, 1975-1982 (#60.1-62.6), contains correspondence, grant proposals, manuals, clippings, etc., and is arranged with grant proposals and applications first, followed by manuals and reports, and then an alphabetical arrangement of general administrative records, such as financial records and files about the advisory committee.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1977-1983 (#62.7-67.19), contains three groups of files. The first is chronological, and contains correspondence that is generally administrative, but also some requests for information. The second is subject correspondence arranged alphabetically. The third consists of requests for information, including a log and the corresponding numbered letters. A few folders of requests not included in the numbering system are arranged chronologically, preceding the log.

Subseries C, Publications, 1975-1983 (#67.20-68.9), contains correspondence, notes, drafts, and published copies of packets, kits, and the newsletter In the Running. They are arranged alphabetically by title of publication.

Subseries D, Reference files, 1970-1983 (#68.10-72.30) contains correspondence, notes, clippings, etc., arranged alphabetically by topic. Most of the records in this subseries were part of a filing system with color-coded folder labels whose meanings were defined in the SPRINT manual (#60.31). The archivist has added the headings "conferences," "litigation," and "organizations" in lieu of the color codes. Folders #69.1-69.2 require a special permission form for 40 years from the date of creation.

Series XX, WOMEN'S EDUCATIONAL EQUITY ACT (WEEA) COORDINATION PROJECT, 1976-1986 (#72.31-76.3), chronicles the activities funded by three grants from the United States Office of Education from 1977 to 1981. Designed to assist Women's Educational Equity Act grantees, the project assembled a resource directory; published a monthly newsletter, Newsflash (see Series XXIII), containing information from and about Women's Educational Equity Act projects; and answered telephone inquiries. Reference copies of Newsflash are available in the Schlesinger Library periodicals. Staff consisted of a director, associate director, and administrative assistant, who were assisted by WEAL Fund staff members. The grant also included a subcontractor, Applied Management Sciences, that helped plan and run conferences.

The records include correspondence, financial records, grant applications, agendas, printed material, etc. WEAL staff used WEEA and WEEAP interchangeably in their folder headings. The archivist arranged the records into four subseries.

Subseries A, General administrative files, 1977-1981 (#72.31-73.25), contains reports, correspondence, budgets, notes, printed material, etc., relating to the running of the project. Folders are arranged with reports first, followed by an alphabetical arrangement of files.

Subseries B, Grants and proposals, 1977-1986 (#73.26-74.11), contains correspondence, notes, vouchers, drafts of proposals, etc. Folders are arranged chronologically by date of grant application. Because they include audits conducted by the United States Department of Education, the records in this subseries extend beyond the end of the grant period.

Subseries C, Conferences and training sessions, 1977-1981 (#74.12-75.34), contains correspondence, notes, agendas, printed material, etc., relating to conferences and training sessions for Women's Educational Equity Act grantees. Most of these events were organized by WEAL; folder descriptions indicate those sponsored by another organization. Folders are filed alphabetically within a chronological arrangement.

Subseries D, Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) grantees, 1977-1980 (#75.35-76.3), contains correspondence, notes, lists of grantees, grant summaries, etc., relating to grantees. Folders are filed alphabetically within a chronological arrangement.

Series XXI, PRESS FILES, 1975-1986 (#76.4-76.19), contains correspondence, notes, press lists, questionnaires, etc., relating to WEAL's publicity activities: issuing publications and press releases, and supervising the Speakers' Bureau, a group of qualified individuals willing to speak to public gatherings on specific topics as requested. Files were created mainly by Sandi Risser, and are arranged alphabetically.

Series XXII, PUBLICATIONS, 1970-1989 (#77.1-79.20, 81.13-81.43), contains bibliographies, booklets, brochures, information leaflets, kits, newsletters, and reports published and distributed by WEAL and WEAL Fund. It is divided into four subseries.

Subseries A, General, 1969-1987 (#77.1-77.50, 81.1-81.31), contains a sampling of letters received with publication orders (hundreds of routine requests for publications were discarded), lists of publications WEAL and WEAL Fund offered for purchase, and other printed material. Publications include statistical studies of women's involvement in higher education, lists of resources available to women (such as internships, alternative employment opportunities, and health care organizations), instructional guides (filing a faculty grievance, preparing a resumé, etc.), and others. Following the sampling of letters received with publication orders and publications lists (#77.1-77.2), this subseries is arranged alphabetically by title. A master set of publications is closed to research (#81.13-81.43).

Subseries B, Kits, 1973-1987 (#77.51-78.15), contains informational packets that WEAL assembled by topic. These topics include credit, education (K-12 and higher), women in the military, and others. Kits often include background information on these subjects, reprints of relevant studies or laws, model letters for filing discrimination complaints, and bibliographies of recommended reading. As laws and regulations changed, or WEAL staff updated or wrote new essays, WEAL adjusted the kits' contents. Details of these adjustments are included in WEAL's publications lists (#77.2). This subseries is arranged alphabetically by topic.

Subseries C, Information sheets, 1977-1987 (#78.16-78.59), contains WEAL Facts, WEAL Informed, and miscellaneous information sheets published by WEAL and WEAL Fund. WEAL Facts (#78.16-78.53) provided news on various legal cases, legislation, and other topics relating to women, including insurance discrimination, pensions, social security, and tax reform. WEAL Facts were sometimes combined into packets on broader topics such as "Women and Legislation" or "Older Women." WEAL Informed (#78.54-78.57) was "an up-to-the-minute alert on pending legislation with information about who to contact to express your views" available to WEAL members for a fee. Files of miscellaneous information sheets (#78.58-78.59) covers many of the same topics as WEAL Facts and WEAL Informed; these sheets were also sometimes included in WEAL and WEAL Fund Kits. WEAL Facts are arranged alphabetically by topic. Other information sheets in this subseries are arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Newsletters, 1970-1989 (#79.1-79.20), contains WEAL National Newsletter, WEAL Report, and WEAL Washington Report. Individuals and institutions received a subscription to the WEAL National Newsletter and Washington Report upon joining WEAL. Individual issues were also available for purchase through the National Office. The WEAL National Newsletter (#79.1-79.3) offered information about events and actions by the organization. WEAL appears to have only published three issues of the WEAL Report, all in 1989 (#79.4). These reports address reproductive rights (especially Webster v. Reproductive Health Services) and an article entitled "Management Women and the New Facts of Life" by Felice Schwartz, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review. WEAL Washington Report (#79.5-79.20) began as a digest of passed and pending legislation relating to women's rights but, beginning in about 1975, included general, informational articles on aspects of law and legislation of interest to members.

A master set of duplicates is closed to research (#81.44-81.52, FD.6). To use WEAL National Newsletter (1970-1979), WEAL Washington Report (1971-1989) or WEAL Report (1989), researchers should consult Schlesinger Library periodicals or #79.1-79.20 for copies.

Series XXIII, TESTIMONIES, PUBLIC COMMENTS, AND PRESS RELEASES, 1969-1989 (#79.21-80.22), contains press releases from WEAL and WEAL Fund, transcripts of testimonies given by WEAL and WEAL Fund representatives before various government bodies, and other statements on state and federal legislation. It is divided into two subseries.

Subseries A, Testimonies and comments, 1970-1989, n.d. (#79.21-79.42), contains testimonies, supplements to testimonies, statements, and comments made by WEAL and WEAL Fund representatives or on behalf of WEAL and other organizations before the Untied States Senate, House of Representatives, Government Departments and Commissions, or their committees and subcommittees on various topics, including women's access to educational opportunities and social security benefits, affirmative action, and others. Also included are WEAL's and WEAL Fund's comments on Federal rulemaking. This subseries is arranged in chronological order. Some items may appear more than once, if revised or presented on more than one date. Items removed include WEAL Facts and published articles on related topics, both of which may have been used during testimony.

Subseries B, Press releases, 1969-1987 (#80.1-80.22), contains press releases from both WEAL and WEAL Fund. Each group is arranged in chronological order.

Series XXIV, PHOTOGRAPHS AND MEMORABILIA, 1973-1982, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.37), contains photographs of WEAL Board meetings, the WEAL 1973 National Convention, staff members, interns, and events in which WEAL participated. The images of women and girls playing sports (#PD.16-PD.33) were sent to the SPRINT project from individuals, community programs, and colleges and universities for possible publication in In the Running. Also included in this series is memorabilia, including stickers, bumper stickers, a button, a report cover, a mug, and a tote bag.

Series XXV, CLIPPINGS, 1968-1989 (#80.23-80.45), contains newspaper and magazine articles covering the activities of National WEAL, state affiliates, and both national and local officers and members. Also included are articles and "letters to the editor" written by WEAL leaders. This series contains original clippings (many still folded, and some sent by clippings services) and photocopies, both loose and glued to pages. This series includes one folder of clippings on SPRINT, WEAL's information clearinghouse on women in sports. Other folders contain more general WEAL publicity and are arranged in chronological order.

Series XXVI, OVERSIZE, 1976-1982 (FD.1-6, F+D.1-2, OD.1-2, SD.1), is the shelflist for oversize items (posters, calendars, ledgers, etc.) throughout this collection. The list below includes "catch-all" folders of large items found loose, or removed from folders in other series. Also included are oversize folders listed in previous series (as cited below), as they contain documents directly related to folders in those series (e.g., ledgers in financial records). There are photocopied reductions of the oversize items in their original folders if they were removed from a group of other materials.


The Women's Equity Action League was a national membership organization, with state chapters and divisions, dedicated to improving the status and lives of all women primarily through education, litigation, and legislation. Its sister organization, the WEAL Fund, was incorporated in 1972 "to help secure legal rights for women and to carry on educational and research projects on sex discrimination." The Fund was not a membership organization, and under federal tax law, as a 501(c)3 organization (non-profit and tax-exempt), could not engage in legislative activities. The two organizations merged in 1981 (see below), following changes in the tax code in 1976 that clarified the extent to which public charities could lobby without jeopardizing their tax status.

WEAL had its beginnings in Cleveland, Ohio. Objecting to the National Organization for Women's (NOW) support of women's right to abortion, as well as to NOW's tactics of picketing and demonstrating in pursuit of its goals, Elizabeth ("Betty") Boyer and other Ohio members of NOW founded WEAL in 1968. Boyer, first national president, explained why and how WEAL was organized (see #1.27).

"In 1966 and earlier many of us saw a need for concentrated activity in the women's rights area. We saw a need for an organization that would coordinate other organizations and concentrate on economic advancement for women.... To explore the possibilities, we asked Martha Griffiths to come to speak in the spring of 1968. Nearly 300 persons came. From this attendance list we circulated a letter inquiring whether they would be interested in an organization such as WEAL. The response was encouraging."

"We held several small planning meetings that summer and by autumn we had lined up nearly a hundred members, mostly Clevelanders. In October we held an incorporating meeting to apply for corporate status as an Ohio nonprofit corporation. In early November the actual incorporation took place...."

WEAL's stated purposes were to promote greater economic progress on the part of American women; to press for full enforcement of existing antidiscriminatory laws on behalf of women; to seek correction of de facto discrimination against women; to gather and disseminate information and educational material; to investigate instances of, and seek solutions to, economic, educational, tax, and employment problems affecting women; to urge that girls be prepared to enter more advanced career fields; to seek reappraisal of federal, state and local laws and practices limiting women's employment opportunities; to combat by all lawful means, job discriminations against women in the pay, promotional or advancement policies of governmental or private employers; to seek the cooperation and coordination of all American women, individually or as organizations to attain these objectives, whether through legislation, litigation, or other means, and by doing any and all things necessary or incident thereto.

The following brief chronology for 1968-1980 combines information from Betty Boyer (prepared for the 1975 convention) and various WEAL publications. The national newsletters, as well as Board minutes and mailings, are excellent sources of detailed information; additional historical material is in #1.27-1.36.

  1. 1968: WEAL was founded in Cleveland, Ohio; the members elected Betty Boyer to be their first president. An early project was de-sexing help-wanted ads. WEAL member Vera Glazer wrote "The Female Revolt," prominently mentioning WEAL, thus obtaining for it nationwide and Congressional Record coverage.
  2. 1969: WEAL was invited to appear before a number of Congressional committees including those on guidelines for holders of federal contracts. Complaints of discrimination in education were received from all over the country. By the end of the year, WEAL had members in 22 states.
  3. 1970: Nancy Dowding was elected national president. WEAL began publishing a national newsletter. The New York division was organized, and WEAL membership nationwide continued to expand. Bernice Sandler began filing complaints against colleges and universities for sex discrimination under Executive Order 11246.
  4. 1971: State- divisions numbered 16 by the end of the year (New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, District of Columbia, Maryland, California, Colorado, Texas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, Hawaii, and Virginia). The WEAL Washington Report (WWR), a summary of federal legislation of interest to women, began publication. The WEAL Legal Defense and Education Fund was incorporated.
  5. 1972: Norma Raffel was elected national president. WEAL membership increased and several more state divisions were convened. The national office opened in Washington, D.C. With other women's organizations, WEAL successfully lobbied for the ERA, Title IX of the Educational Amendments, and extensions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and of the Equal Pay Act. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, WEAL filed the first sex discrimination charges against a city government (Dallas). Filing charges of sex discrimination in higher education continued to be a major activity, as was pressing the federal government to investigate. WEAL conducted studies of sex bias in appointments to state boards and commissions, in the granting of fellowships, and in the drug industry. The WEAL Legal Defense and Education Fund was dissolved and the WEAL Educational and Legal Defense Fund was incorporated.
  6. 1973: Arvonne Fraser was elected national president, and the national office was fully budgeted and staffed, with Bert Hartry as director. Jessie Baum succeeded Hartry in June. WEAL trained lobbyists and other volunteers, and organized a roster of lawyers and other experts to file WEAL briefs and respond to proposed federal regulations. The WEAL Fund qualified for an IRS Section 501(c)3, making contributions tax-deductible and the Fund tax-exempt.
  7. 1974: The Higher Education Committee shifted its focus from filing individual complaints to a how-to-do-it advisory role. New state divisions were convened; WEAL was represented in all 50 states by the end of the year. The Schlesinger Library became the repository of the WEAL archive.
  8. 1975: Doris Seward was elected national president and began a program stressing enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. The annual convention date was changed from December to May.
  9. 1976: Eileen Thornton was elected national president. Continuing its work for the Equal Rights Amendment, WEAL pledged $3000 to ERAmerica for education and publicity. WEAL established a Women and Health Committee, created the Womanpower Roster (Talent Bank), and polled United States presidential candidates on their positions on women's issues.
  10. 1977: WEAL hired its first paid lobbyist, Leslie Gladstone. WEAL members participated in the Women's Equality Day march (August 26), and in the International Women's Year Conference in Houston (November). The WEAL Fund set up the Marguerite Rawalt Trust Fund for litigation of sex discrimination cases in education, employment, credit, and economic areas; WEAL's suit against Health, Education, and Welfare and the Labor Department was settled in December, with Health, Education, and Welfare committing itself to hire 898 new employees in its Office of Civil Rights, to eliminate a backlog of 3000 discrimination complaints, and to begin major civil rights investigations of universities and school districts.
  11. 1978: WEAL celebrated its 10th Anniversary. It presented its first WEAL Economic Equity Awards (also known as Big WEALs Awards) to honor "America's Outstanding Women in Business and Labor."
  12. 1979: WEAL hired its first full-time Executive Director, Meredith Homet. WEAL began publication of WEAL Informed, an update of pending legislation pertaining to women. Patricia Blau Reuss was hired in October as Acting Executive Director.
  13. 1980: Carol Grossman became the first paid president, serving also as Executive Director. The WEAL president moved to the Washington, D.C., headquarters for the first time. Possibilities of merger of WEAL and WEAL Fund raised.

By 1980, it was apparent that WEAL and the WEAL Fund had identity problems in the larger public that were harming the fundraising efforts of each organization. With overlapping structures and interests, they were competing for the same scarce resources. After months of study and negotiation, a merger proposal was brought before the membership at the annual meeting. In May 1981, after months of discussion and negotiation, WEAL (incorporated in Ohio) and WEAL Fund (incorporated in the District of Columbia) merged, with WEAL Fund designated the surviving corporation. WEAL transferred all remaining assets to WEAL Fund, all members of WEAL became members of WEAL Fund, and WEAL Fund changed its name to Women's Equity Action League (WEAL).

This newly named WEAL was headquartered and incorporated in the District of Columbia, with its stated purposes being: to be operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of sections 501(c)3 and 170(c)2 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and of any subsequent amendments or revisions thereof; to promote greater economic progress on the part of American women; to promote educational equity for women and girls; to press for full enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws on behalf of women; to seek correction of de facto discrimination against women; to conduct research, collect, collate, acquire, compile and publish facts, information and statistics concerning facilities, services, privileges, rights and opportunities of all kinds, the use or enjoyment of which is denied, restricted, or otherwise conditioned to anyone on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, handicap or marital status, and to combat any such discrimination by legal action, whether through legislation, litigation or other means; to render legal assistance and services to bring women within the full ambit and application of the Unites States Constitution and of the federal, state and local laws and practices to insure their full recognition and participation in the educational and economic activities and other facets of American life without discrimination on account of sex, race, religion, national origin, handicap or marital status; to provide legal support and advice to those seeking employment benefits without discrimination because of sex, race, religion, national origin, handicap or marital status.

The first Board of Directors was formed by merging the two existing boards for one year. There were seven standing committees: Executive, Legal, Program, Legislative, Finance and Development, Membership, and Editorial. Special and advisory committees were appointed as deemed necessary. Fund acting executive director Char Mollison was hired as the executive director for the new organization; she served through April 1989, when she left for another job.

At the annual May meetings, the membership traditionally reviewed WEAL's activities for the past year, and set the agenda for the next. After the merger, the original WEAL's "action agenda" expanded to include public policy initiatives in the Executive branch, as well as legislation. Throughout the 1980s, WEAL's economic agenda stressed the following issues: Title IX; women in the military; reproductive health; equity in the workplace (pensions, insurance, family and medical leave, child and dependent care, pay equity, affirmative action, enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, health insurance, sexual harassment); women as entrepreneurs; ERA; women and the Federal budget; Social Security; violence, abuse and harassment; health; homemakers; and lifestyles. They participated in issue-based coalitions, conducted research, and testified before Congressional committees and other government agencies.

From a dependence on federal government funding, which at one time provided 50% of their income, WEAL shifted to raising money entirely from the private sector: predominantly foundations, corporate fundraising events, and membership dues, and sales of publications. By the late 1980s, difficult economic times nationally, as well as a right-wing, anti-feminist shift in the political climate, took its toll. Unable to secure necessary funding for its many projects and activities, WEAL took steps to dissolve its corporation in late 1989.

The following is a list of WEAL presidents, with their terms of office: Elizabeth Boyer (1968-1969), Nancy Dowding (1969-1970), Lizabeth Moody (1970), Sally Mann (1971), (1971-1972), Arvonne Fraser (1972-1974), Doris Seward (1975-1976), Eileen Thornton (1976-1978), Cristine Candela (1978-1980), Carol Burroughs Grossman (1980-1982), Mary Gray (1982-1988), Doris Etelson (1989-1990).

The following is a list of WEAL Executive Directors, with their terms of office: Jessie Baum (1978), Meredith Homet (1979, first full-time Executive Director), Pat Reuss (1979-1980), Char Mollison (1981-1989), Vicki Almquist (1989, Acting Executive Director), Mary McCain (1989).

The following is a list of WEAL Fund presidents, with their terms in office: Ellen Dresselhuis (1972-1979), Marguerite Rawalt (1979-1980), Margaret Moses (1980-1981).

The following is a list of WEAL Fund Executive Directors: Carol Parr (1976-1980), Char Mollison (1980-1981).


The collection is arranged in 26 series:

  1. I. WEAL organization and policy
  2. II. WEAL administration
  3. III. WEAL financial records
  4. IV. WEAL membership records
  5. V. WEAL state affiliates
  6. VI. Fund organization and policy
  7. VII. Fund administration
  8. VIII. Fund financial records
  9. IX. National office
  10. X. Officers
  11. XI. Conferences
  12. XII. General correspondence
  13. XIII. Legal
  14. XIV. Legal: WEAL Order
  15. XV. Legislative program
  16. XVI. Intern program
  17. XVII. Intern working files
  18. XVIII. Projects
  19. XIX. Projects: SPRINT
  20. XX. Projects: Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) Coordination Project
  21. XXI. Press files
  22. XXII. Publications
  23. XXIII. Testimonies, press releases
  24. XXIV. Photographs and memorabilia
  25. XXV. Clippings
  26. XXVI. Oversize

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 79-M37, 80-M16, 80-M92, 80-M161, 80-M229, 82-M90, 82-M44, 82-M117, 83-M171, 85-M22, 85-M41, 85-M165, 85-M220, 86-M234, 87-M154, 88-M29, 88-M99, 88-M120, 89-M130, 89-M148, 89-M157, 89-M215, 89-M225, 90-M36, 90-M98, 90-M141, 93-M82, 98-M46

The Women's Equity Action League designated the Schlesinger Library its official repository in 1974. Records donated by WEAL and WEAL officers between 1975 and 1979 were processed in December 1981 (MC 311). These addenda were given to the Schlesinger Library by the WEAL and WEAL Fund national office and by Christine Candela Cronin, Carol Burroughs Grossman, Bert Hartry, Vilma Hunt, Ann Mulligan, Amy Swauger and Barbara Glenn Walters between 1979 and 1998. The records were processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Women's Equity Action League Records, 1966-1979 (MC 311) and Women's Equity Action League Audiotapes, 1973-1987 (T-126).

Processing Information

Processed: March 2004

By: Cheryl Beredo, Johanna Carll, and Katherine Kraft

Updated: June 2014

By: Jenny Gotwals

Genre / Form



Women's Equity Action League. Records of the Women's Equity Action League, 1967-1990: 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 funding 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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