Papers of NOW officer Betty Blaisdell Berry, 1940-2006 (inclusive), 1967-1977 (bulk)
Papers of Betty Blaisdell Berry, coordinator of the National Organization for Women's Marriage, Divorce, and Family Relations Task Force and founder of The Marriage and Divorce Press, Inc.
- Majority of material found within 1967-1977
- Berry, Betty Blaisdell, 1922-2007 (Person)
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Unrestricted with the exception of folder #1.11, which is closed until January 1, 2025, folders #3.3 and #6.6, which are closed until January 1, 2028, and folders #16.1-16.4, which are closed until names are redacted or until January 1, 2033.
As of November 2015, written permission of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to folders #1.1-1.4, 1.6-8.2, or 9.4-13.10.
As of June 2017, written permission of NOW-NYC is no longer requires for access to folders #1.6-8.2, or #9.4-13.10.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in papers created by Betty Berry while an officer of NOW is held by NOW. Berry retains copyright in the Marriage, Divorce, and the Family Newsletter. Copyright for other work by Berry is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent6.46 linear feet ((15 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 4 photograph folders, and 1 object)
The collection contains correspondence, notes, printed material, and photographs, as well as speeches, testimonies and writings by Berry. Folder headings were created by Berry; the archivist's notes are in square brackets. Berry's basic arrangement has been retained. Material received in 2010 was added to the collection in March 2014. This material is housed in #14.1-16.4, F+D.1, and PD.4. All other files remain in the same order. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order.
Photographs have been transferred to a separate series. 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 parts of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back by an asterisk in square brackets [*].
References to the "New York chapter of NOW," or "New York NOW," are to the New York City chapter of NOW; the state chapter is New York State NOW.
Series I, Personal (#1.1-1.5, 14.1-15.3, F+D.1, Mem.1), includes resumes, correspondence, writings and speeches by Berry, letters of appointment and resignation from the National Organization for Women, clippings about Berry and her work, correspondence, etc., concerning Veteran Feminists of America, and a bride's book detailing her wedding. The series is arranged chronologically except for the addenda.
Series II, National Organization for Women (#1.6-8.2, 15.4, 16.1-16.4), is divided into eight subseries, with significant overlap between the subseries; for example, information relating to the activities of the New York chapter of NOW is present in most of the other subseries. In addition, some material related to Berry's work for NOW can be found in Series I, Personal, and Series V, Subject Files.
Subseries A, General (#1.6-1.20), contains correspondence with NOW officers, NOW publications with drafts of articles by Berry, and Berry's "archives" (1967-1972), which consist of mailings, board meeting agendas, press releases, reports, correspondence, and Berry's notes. The papers are arranged chronologically, followed by an alphabetical sequence of correspondence.
Subseries B, Board Meetings and Conferences (#1.21-2.12), contains correspondence, printed material, agendas and minutes, budgets, bylaws, reports, and notes from NOW board meetings and conferences. Also included are speech notes from workshops on marriage and divorce given by Berry. The papers are arranged chronologically; a folder pertaining to more than one meeting is listed at the end of the subseries. Material pertaining to NOW conferences relating to the topic of marriage and divorce are included in Subseries C.
Subseries C, Marriage, Divorce, and Family Relations Task Force and New York NOW Marriage and Family Committee (#2.13-3.11, 15.4, 16.1-16.4), contains correspondence, printed material, and newsletters relating to both the national and New York chapter task forces, which Berry chaired simultaneously. Also included is the NOW Marriage Insurance Proposal, fact sheets written by Berry, as well as planning material, lecture notes, and workshop reports from two NOW-sponsored conferences on marriage and divorce. The papers are arranged chronologically, except for the addenda. For various task force projects and actions, see also Subseries E and Subseries H. In addition, some task force-related correspondence is in Subseries A.
Subseries D, Legislation (#3.12-5.6), consists of material related to NOW's legislative efforts on both national and state levels regarding marriage and divorce, such as child care tax deductions and Social Security. The subseries contains correspondence with federal and state legislators and others (including Ruth Bader Ginsburg); testimonies by Berry; NOW legislative goals; drafts of bills; printed material; press releases; a transcript of a Berry radio interview; and material relating to the New York NOW Equal Rights Divorce Reform Bill. The papers are arranged alphabetically. Some material relating to Berry's legislative efforts on behalf of NOW is included in Series V, Subject Files.
Subseries E, Actions (#5.7-5.17), contains correspondence, printed material, press releases, clippings, and reports relating to protests, boycotts, and the August 26, 1970 strike. Included are Berry's speech notes and action plans relating to a series of action nights sponsored by the Marriage and Family Committee of the New York chapter of NOW. The papers are arranged alphabetically; folders pertaining to more than one action are listed at the end of the subseries.
Subseries F, New York Chapter of NOW (#5.18-6.8), consists of ballots for two 1968 elections, membership lists, Berry's notes from Executive Committee and Board meetings (for minutes), NOW proposals for amendments to the New York state constitution, correspondence, and printed material. The papers are arranged alphabetically. Some information pertaining to the New York chapter of NOW is also included in Subseries H.
Subseries G, Chapter Marriage and Divorce Committees (#6.9-6.20), consists of correspondence, printed material, drafts of bills, and testimonies from states other than New York. The papers are arranged alphabetically by chapter location. A folder pertaining to more than one chapter is listed at the end of the subseries.
Subseries H, NOW Subject Files (#6.21-8.2), contains printed material, correspondence, notes, and reports. Also included are position papers by Berry on topics such as the uniform divorce act and no fault divorce, as well as material related to her work on "A Woman's Guide to Florida Laws," a pamphlet written under a NOW LDEF grant. The papers are arranged alphabetically by topic.
Series III, Marriage and Divorce Press, Inc. (#8.3-8.14, 15.5-15.7), contains correspondence, drafts of articles, clippings, mostly related to the Marriage, Divorce, and the Family Newsletter edited by Berry. Also included are consumer education booklets published by the press. The papers are arranged chronologically except for the addenda.
Series IV, National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year (#8.15-9.3), contains correspondence, printed material, memos, fact sheets, and Berry's meeting notes from her work on the Homemaker Committee. The papers are arranged chronologically.
Series V, General Subject Files (#9.4-13.10), contains printed material, correspondence, notes, buttons, and reports pertaining to topics and organizations of interest to Berry, primarily related to marriage and divorce. This subseries includes material from conferences and workshops in which Berry participated, as well as notes from her speeches and lectures. It also contains writings by Berry and papers relating to a series of booklets on marriage, divorce, and the law that she edited for the Presbyterian Church. The papers are arranged alphabetically by topic. A folder pertaining to more than one conference is listed at the end of the conferences and workshops.
Series VI, Photographs (#PD.1-PD.4), contains three folders of photographs of Berry and others from NOW events, primarily meetings and demonstrations.
Eleanor Betty (Blaisdell) Berry was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1922. She received her B.A. in economics and government from Smith College in 1944. In 1947, she married Robert G. Berry; they later divorced. She worked as an administrative assistant for the American Museum of Immigration (1955-1957) and as the business manager and director of Goertz Industrial Design (1958-1960). Berry received her M.A. in Education from New York University in 1968, and served as the executive director of the Industrial Designers Society of America (1971-1973).
Berry became involved in the National Organization for Women in 1967, and was national coordinator of the Marriage, Divorce, and Family Relations Task Force from 1968 to 1973. As coordinator, she founded and edited the task force newsletter and developed and conducted numerous workshops on marriage and divorce. She later served as an advisor to the task force. Berry was also active in the New York chapter of NOW as recording secretary (1967-1968) and chair of the chapter's Marriage and the Family Committee (1967-1971). In 1974 she received a grant from the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund to compile and edit "A Woman's Guide to Florida Laws."
In 1974, Berry founded The Marriage and Divorce Press, Inc., to publish educational material about marriage, family life, and divorce. She also served as a consultant on marriage and divorce education for the United Presbyterian Church, and as a member of the Homemaker Committee of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year of the United States State Department (1975-1976). She became a member of the steering committee of the Divorce Task Force of the National Council of Family Relations in 1974 and a member of the Task Force on Economic Power for the Women's Action Alliance in 1976.
After selling The Marriage and Divorce Press in 1977, Berry worked as public relations director for the American Arbitration Association (1977-1987). Berry died in Pompano Beach, Florida, in 2007.
The collection is arranged in six series:
- Series I. Personal
- Series II. National Organization for Women
- Series III. Marriage and Divorce Press, Inc.
- Series IV. National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year
- Series V. General Subject Files
- Series VI. Photographs
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 88-M206, 2010-M29
These papers were given to the library by Betty Blaisdell Berry in 1988. Additional material was given to the library by Florida Atlantic University in 2010.
Donor: Betty Blaisdell Berry
Accession numbers: 88-M206, 2010-M29
Processed by: Paula K. Aloisio and Anne Engelhart
The following items have been removed from the collection:
- 2 linear feet of NOW Acts, New York NOW newsletters, the NOW York Times, feministperiodicals, published reports, and other printed material, mostly relatedto the topics of marriage and divorce. Transferred to the Tamiment Library, New York University, December 2004.
- The New Feminism by Lucy Komisar, 1971
Processed: October 2004
By: Paula K. Aloisio
Updated: March 2014
By: Anne Engelhart
- Child support--United States
- Demonstrations--United States
- Divorce--Law and legislation--New York (State)
- Divorce--Law and legislation--United States
- Divorced women--United States
- Feminism--United States
- International Women's Year, 1975--United States
- Married women--United States
- National Organization for Women
- Rossi, Alice S., 1922-2009
- Sex discrimination against women--Law and legislation
- Weddings--United States
- Women's rights--United States
- Women--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States
- Women--United States--Social conditions
- Berry, Betty Blaisdell. Papers of NOW officer Betty Blaisdell Berry, 1940-2006 (inclusive), 1967-1977 (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 a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1968.
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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