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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 577

Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1941-2006 (inclusive), 1980-2000 (bulk)


Additional papers of Betty Friedan, feminist, activist, and author.


  • Creation: 1941-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1980-2000


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. During the lifetimes of the Friedan children (Daniel, Emily, and Jonathan), all readers must sign a special form.

Series I: #8.1-10.4 are closed until 2056. Researchers must sign a special permission form for access to #6.27 until 80 years from the date of the folder.

Series II: researchers must sign a special permission form for access to #10.6, 10.14, 11.1, 11.3-11.6, 11.14, 12.12, 13.21, 14.9, 14.10, 15.1-15.3, 15.10, 16.8, and 17.6 until 80 years from the date of the folder.

As of November 2015, written permission of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to Series VI: #38.2, 38.4-38.5, 38.7-38.8, 38.13-38.16.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Betty Friedan is held by her heirs. Permission to publish must be obtained from Friedan's literary executor. 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.


21.27 linear feet (47 file boxes, 1 folio+ box, 2 folio folders, 7 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 40 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 23 objects)

These additional papers of Betty Friedan include correspondence, drafts of writings, financial and legal documents, appointment books, research and teaching notes, organizational records, photographs, and memorabilia. Two earlier sets of her papers were processed in 1986 (MC 575) and 1994 (MC 576), though they were only assigned "MC" numbers in 2009. Because they have been extensively used and cited, their arrangement was left intact. Most of the material in this body of papers (MC 577) dates from 1980 and later. Although a few outlying items from the 1940s through the 1970s are also included here, most material from this time period can be found in the earlier two collections. Cross-references are given below only when deemed essential; they are not indicative of the extensive overlap among all three collections.

Series I, PERSONAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL, 1942-2006 (#1.1-10.4), includes personal documents, financial material, clippings about Friedan, honors and awards, appointment books and schedules, and personal correspondence. It is arranged in three subseries. Many of the folders in this series are closed until 2056.

Subseries A, Biographical, 1942-2006 (#1.1v-7.16), includes appointment books and calendars, schedules, awards and related correspondence, resumes, clippings about Friedan, passports, memorial tributes, etc. For earlier appointment books, see MC 576. Friedan's Smith College yearbook from 1942 is also included, as are correspondence and a journal from her 1983 Outward Bound trip (for her notes on the program and resulting article, see #11.12-11.14, and MC 576). Clippings from the New York Times and the Washington Post were discarded.

Subseries B, Personal correspondence, 1960-2006 (#8.1-9.8), contains correspondence with family and friends, birthday cards, holiday cards, and get-well cards. More routine correspondence, including fan mail, is filed in Series VII. All folders in this subseries are closed until 2056.

Subseries C, Financial and legal, 1961-1995 (#9.9-10.4), includes Friedan's personal and professional financial information, legal correspondence, and information about insurance, retirement, and residential matters. Personal financial material includes bills, receipts, and correspondence, while professional financial material consists primarily of royalty statements. Legal material includes leases, insurance information, correspondence with lawyers, etc. Both financial and legal documents are often accompanied by correspondence or other information from agents and publishers. All folders in this subseries are closed until 2056.

Series II, WRITINGS, 1960-2003 (#10.5-17.23), includes notes and manuscript and typescript drafts of Friedan's books and articles. It also includes correspondence with publishers about edits and book tours, book reviews, reader response letters, and printed copies of articles. Some of this may duplicate material in MC 575 and MC 576; some may add to or complete material in those collections. The series contains material re: Friedan's books The Second Stage (1981), The Fountain of Age (1993), Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family (1997), and Life So Far (2000). Some of the work in this series may not have been published, and some of it is related to each other. Friedan wrote "After Nairobi: Woman-Time Is the World," about the 1985 United Nations Third Conference for Women. Some of that essay is reworked into parts of "Anti-Semitism as a Political Tool," written that same year about anti-Zionism at several United Nations women's conferences. "My Paradigm Shifts" was written for publication in the New Yorker, but was not published there in that form. Some parts of that essay were later published in the New Democrat, and as Beyond Gender in 1997. Types of material are listed in each folder title. Readers must sign a special permission form for any folders that contain reader response letters. Folders that were titled by Friedan (or, more likely, her assistant) are in quotations. The series is arranged chronologically, with undated and unidentified notes at the end.

Series III, LECTURES, CONFERENCES, AND INTERVIEWS, 1976-2005 (#17.24-27.10), contains correspondence and publicity about lectures given by Friedan and conferences she attended, as well as transcripts of speeches and interviews. Folders may include correspondence, clippings, contracts, notes, etc. Lecture schedules are found in this series; Friedan's more general schedules, which include lectures as well as other engagements, can be found in Series I (#5.4-6.5). Friedan went to the United Nations Third Conference for Women in Nairobi (1985) on behalf of the American Jewish Committee. After a trip to Iceland in 1990, she worked to plan a Global Summit for Women there in June 1992; the conference was instead held in July 1992 in Dublin, Ireland. Many appearances from 1993 and later involve topics of aging, as Fountain of Age was published in 1993. Friedan attended the United Nations Fourth Conference for Women in Beijing (1995) as a correspondent for Voice of America. General lecture correspondence is usually filed under the month the appearance took place. Drafts or transcripts of speeches are noted. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series IV, RESEARCH AND TEACHING, 1978-2000 (#27.11-30.4), includes material relating to Friedan's teaching stints at various universities, grant proposals for research projects, feminist think tanks, etc. Her appointments at the University of Southern California (USC), New York University (NYU), and Mount Vernon College are represented here. For several years she taught at USC in the spring and at NYU in the fall, teaching classes in women's studies, communications, and public policy departments, as well as in business schools. More material related to the Columbia University research proposal and grant report (a project on aging which led to The Fountain of Age) can be found in MC 575 and MC 576. In 1987, while teaching at USC, Friedan formed a feminist think tank under the auspices of the university's Institute for the Study of Women and Men. The Institute folded in 1992, and the think tank then became affiliated with the Leadership Institute of the USC School of Business Administration. The American Behavioral Scientist published edited transcripts of some of the think tank sessions (1994). More material on Friedan's time at USC can be found in Series V, as well as in MC 576. Friedan was a fellow at the Smithsonian's Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars (1993-1994), where she and Heidi Hartmann chaired several symposia in 1994. Transcripts and general ideas from these sessions became Friedan's Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family. Friedan attempted to find and fund a permanent home for similar symposia or think tank sessions; she affiliated with Cornell University's Institute for Women and Work in 1999. Folders may include contracts, correspondence, syllabi, information on benefits, class lists and class papers, etc. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series V, WOMEN, MEN AND MEDIA, 1985-1998 (#30.5-36.19), contains organizational records of Women, Men and Media, a "research and outreach project" initiated by Friedan and Nancy Woodhull that ran seminars and conferences on specific topics related to the media's treatment of women, coverage of gender issues, and women's representation in broadcast media. The project began in 1988 as series of conferences (with a grant from the Gannett Foundation), and then was formalized as a project in spring of 1990, with sponsorship from USC's School of Journalism and Institute for the Study of Women and Men. Beginning in 1994, the project became jointly sponsored by the USC and New York University schools of journalism. Funding mainly came from the Freedom Forum (the successor to the Gannett Foundation), and conferences were often held at their headquarters near Washington, D.C, as well as in Los Angeles and New York City. In addition to holding conferences, Women, Men and Media issued a series of reports about media coverage of different topics relating to gender. The original folder titles have been maintained. Folders may contain meeting agendas, press clippings, memos, handouts, press releases, correspondence, invitations, conference material, transcripts, etc. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series VI, ORGANIZATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS, AND COMMISSIONS, 1970-2004 (#36.20-39.11), includes material from feminist and Jewish organizations with which Friedan was affiliated, or on whose boards she served; local political groups and initiatives; and national and local political campaigns. Organizations represented here include the National Organization for Women (NOW), NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW LDEF), American Jewish Congress, American Institute for Public Service (Friedan served on the Board of Selectors for their Jefferson Awards), American Jewish Committee, Women's Forum, etc. Friedan also served on the advisory board of Present Tense: the Magazine of World Jewish Affairs. She was heavily involved in the American Jewish Congress's dialogue on women's rights held in Israel in 1984, giving one of the keynote speeches and naming the event, "Woman as Jew, Jew as Woman." Edited transcripts of the dialogue were subsequently published, and Friedan drew on some of the ideas put forward there for her manuscript on "Anti-Semitism as a Political Tool" (see Series II). NOW material primarily relates to their 1984 support of Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale. Friedan campaigned to be elected a Mondale delegate from New York City, and was active in the NOW New York City chapter's "Womanpower" campaign, which focused on women electing Mondale. Files on the Mondale campaign include Friedan's notes (for speeches, presumably) often written on backs of envelopes. More material about this campaign can be found in MC 576. NOW LDEF folders include board minutes, correspondence, reports, event information, information about legal cases, etc. Additional NOW and NOW LDEF material is in MC 575 and MC 576.

Series VII, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1976-2005 (#39.12-47.12), contains requests for appearances, interviews, or blurbs on other people's books; general correspondence with publishers, women's groups, fans, and some friends; and miscellaneous notes and telephone messages and numbers. While this series includes general fan mail, for responses to specific articles or books, see Series II. Some fan mail includes requests for items for celebrity auctions. The requests for appearances were found grouped together, and generally refer to events Friedan did not attend. There may be some overlap, however, with Series III. For birthday cards, holiday cards, and other more personal correspondence from friends, see Series I. Most of the correspondence is incoming to Friedan, but there are also some carbon copies or photocopies of outgoing correspondence by her or her assistants. Letters that were grouped in folders and labeled by Friedan or her assistants have been kept together, with the title listed in quotations; most correspondence was loose, and has been arranged chronologically.

Series VIII, OVERSIZED, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND MEMORABILIA, 1941-2004 (#FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1v-F+D.7, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1m, PD.1-PD.15f+, 48F+B.1v, Mem.1-Mem.22), contains photographs of Friedan and her family and friends, oversized material, political buttons, medals awarded to Friedan, etc. The series is arranged in three subseries by format.

Subseries A, Oversized, 1941-2000 (#FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1v-F+D.7, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1m), includes posters, honorary degrees, an Italian banner, and oversized material removed from folders described above. Folders are arranged by size and chronologically therein.

Subseries B, Photographs, 1949-2003 (#PD.1-PD.15f+, 48F+B.1), includes snapshots, publicity photographs, and images of Friedan at conferences and with family and friends. An album and loose photographs of Friedan's 1974 trip to Iran are also included. Other documents about this trip can be found in MC 575. Photographs are arranged chronologically.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or 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 part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Subseries C, Memorabilia, ca.1971-2004 (Mem.1-Mem.22, SD.1m), includes political buttons, medals, a banner, jewelry, and a shadowbox honoring Friedan's contributions to Women, Men and Media.

For audiovisual materials, see Audio collection of Betty Friedan, 1963-2007 (T-97, T-125, Phon-7), and Video collection of Betty Friedan, ca.1970-2006 (Vt-1, DVD-34).


Betty Friedan was born Bettye Goldstein on February 4, 1921, in Peoria, Illinois, the daughter of Harry and Miriam (Horwitz) Goldstein. She attended Peoria public schools and graduated summa cum laude from Smith College in 1942. She continued her studies as a University Fellow in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley (1943). In June 1947 she married Carl Friedan, an advertising executive; they had three children (Daniel, Jonathan, and Emily) and were divorced in May 1969.

Friedan was a labor and freelance journalist in the 1940s. In the 1950s she wrote articles for a variety of popular and women's magazines. The design of a reunion questionnaire for her Smith College 15th class reunion (1957) gave her insights into the lives of her contemporaries, and provided data for her first and best-known book, The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963. Her analysis of women's role and status fueled the controversy over women's proper place in society and had a dramatic impact on women in the United States and abroad. Friedan quickly became the leading advocate for change in the status of women and was inundated with requests to lecture and to write. She appeared frequently as a keynote speaker at conferences, and on radio and television.

Friedan's second book, It Changed My Life (1976), was a collection of her essays on the women's movement. The Second Stage (1981) suggested a new direction for women's activism toward embracing family, motherhood, sexuality, etc., and advocated working with men to restructure institutions. The Fountain of Age (1993) was the product of over a decade or research related to aging, how it affects men and women differently, and American society's attitudes toward age. Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family (1997) was the result of several symposia Friedan led in an attempt to reimagine public policy responses to unresolved women's issues. Friedan published an autobiography, My Life So Far, in 2000.

In 1966, Friedan helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW), a civil rights organization for women. She served as its first president (1966-1970). She was an organizer of the Women's Strike for Equality (1970), a convenor of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC, 1971), an organizer and director of the First Women's Bank (New York), and vice-president of the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (NARAL, 1970-1973). In the late 1970s and 1980s Friedan was active in several Jewish organizations, primarily the American Jewish Congress. During the 1980s she was involved in local politics, both in New York City, and in Sag Harbor, New York, where she had a second home.

In addition to her active career as a lecturer, commentator, and author, Friedan taught classes at a variety of universities beginning in the 1970s. While her early classes focused on women's experiences and issues, by the 1990s she had broadened her focus and taught classes in management and leadership style at several business schools. She held research fellowships at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Southern California (USC), and the Smithsonian's Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. She directed a think tank on new dimensions in feminist thought at the University of Southern California (1987-1993), and her course on "Women, Men and Media" developed into an ongoing national media monitoring project supported by grants from the Gannett Foundation, the Times Mirror Foundation, and others.

Friedan served on advisory boards and boards of directors of a large number of organizations, including NOW LDEF and the Girl Scouts. She received honorary degrees from numerous universities and colleges. Friedan died on February 4, 2006, her 85th birthday, in Washington, D.C.


The collection is arranged in seven series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1942-2006 (#1.1v-10.4)
  2. Series II. Writings, 1960-2003 (#10.5-17.23)
  3. Series III. Lectures, conferences, and interviews, 1976-2005 (#17.24-27.10)
  4. Series IV. Research and teaching, 1978-2000 (#27.11-30.4)
  5. Series V. Women, Men and Media, 1985-1998 (#30.5-36.19)
  6. Series VI. Organizations, associations, and commissions, 1970-2004 (#36.20-39.11)
  7. Series VII. General correspondence, 1976-2005 (#39.12-47.12)
  8. Series VIII. Oversized, photographs, and memorabilia, 1941-2004 (#FD.1-FD.2, F+D.1v-F+D.7, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1m, PD.1-PD.15f+, 48F+B.1v, Mem.1-Mem.22)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 89-M10, 95-M76, 96-M122, 96-M141, 97-M117, 97-M160, 98-M5, 98-M150, 99-M7, 99-M137, 2000-M144, 2002-M124, 2004-M79, 2005-M17, 2006-M71, 2007-M63

The majority of these addenda to the papers of Betty Friedan were given to the Schlesinger Library from Betty Friedan and from her estate from 1989 to 2007.

Women, Men and Media records (Series V) were a gift of Marlene Sanders.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Betty Friedan, 1933-1985 (MC 575); Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1937-1993 (MC 576); Audio collection of Betty Friedan, 1963-2007 (T-97, T-125, Phon-7); and Video collection of Betty Friedan, ca.1970-2006 (Vt-1, DVD-34).


Donors: Betty Friedan

Accession numbers: 89-M10, 95-M76, 96-M122, 96-M141, 97-M117, 97-M160, 98-M5, 98-M150, 99-M7, 99-M137, 2000-M144, 2002-M124, 2004-M79, 2005-M17, 2006-M71, 2007-M63

Processed by: Jenny Gotwals

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. The Feminine Mystique with a new introduction and epilogue by the author (Dell, 1977)

Processing Information

Processed: January 2009

By: Jenny Gotwals



Friedan, Betty. Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1941-2006 (inclusive), 1980-2000 (bulk): 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 1956.

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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