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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 576: T-125: Vt-1

Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1937-1993 (inclusive), 1970-1993 (bulk)


Papers of Betty Friedan, feminist, activist, and author.


  • Creation: 1937-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1993


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 permission form.

Series I: #89-214, 909-915, 1063-1068 are closed until January 1, 2043.

Series II: Researchers must sign a special form for access to #216a, 216b, 227, 231, 240, 248a-249, 336, 351, and 353 until 80 years from the date of the most recent document in the respective folder.

As of 2014, NARAL-related folders in Series V are no longer restricted.

As of November 2015, written permission of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to folders #474-475, 678, 680a, 681, 683-685).

An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

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.


40.03 linear feet ((94 file boxes, 4 half file boxes) plus 6 folio folders, 3 folio+ folders, 3 oversize folders, 14 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 negative folder, 18 audiotapes, 4 videotapes, 2 objects)

These papers of Betty Friedan were previously designated by an accession number range: "86-M12--93-M146." They include correspondence, financial and legal documents, research notes and drafts of writings, teaching notes, organizational records, photographs, audiovisual material, and memorabilia. Most of the material dates from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The papers arrived in no order; most documents were not in folders. They were roughly sorted and screened so they could be made available for research use. The majority of folder titles were created by the archivist; a few created by Friedan are in quotation marks. Between 2009 and 2011, the collection was reboxed, more description was added to folder titles and scope and content notes, and some folders were intellectually rearranged; the physical arrangement was retained. Folder numbers remain the same as in "86-M12--93-M146," but for preservation purposes, any overly-full folders have been divided, adding alphabetical designations to the previously assigned numbers (e.g., #149a-149b). File units beginning with #909 were not previously described. Two other sets of Friedan's papers (MC 575) and (MC 577) are also available at the Schlesinger Library. Cross-references are given below only when deemed essential, they are not indicative of the extensive overlap among all three collections. Audiovisual material described here has been more fully cataloged separately in (T-97, T-125, Phon-7) and (Vt-1, DVD-34).

Series I, PERSONAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL, 1937-1993 (#1-214, 909-915, 1063-1069), includes photographs, resumes, awards, appointment books, clippings, correspondence, financial records, and legal papers. The majority of the series (#89-214, 909-915, 1063-1069) is CLOSED until January 1, 2043; photographs and biographical information (#1-88) are open.

Photographs, ca.1960-1993, n.d. (#1-16) include publicity images of Friedan, Friedan with her children and friends, and at events and conferences. Biographical information, 1937-1993 (#17-88) includes Friedan's appointment books, awards and honorary degrees, resumes, clippings, and political buttons. Clippings and articles about Friedan date from 1964 to 1993, with in-depth coverage of her public appearances, publications, etc., for the 1970s and 1980s. Clippings from the New York Times and the Washington Post were discarded. Friedan's Central Intelligence Agency file is also included.

Personal and family papers, 1946-1992 (#89-113, 909-915, 1063-1069) contains mainly incoming correspondence with family and friends. Folders for the Friedan children contain their school papers and correspondence with their mother. Also included are Friedan's notebooks from several psychological institutes she attended in the late 1960s and early 1970s. See also MC 575 for other notebooks from the same institutes. Medical and legal, 1963-1991 (#114-125) includes a few of Friedan's medical records, as well as correspondence with lawyers re: her divorce and real estate transactions. Financial, 1943-1991 (#126-196) includes contracts, reimbursements, correspondence with lecture agencies, etc. Personal finances include bills, invoices, canceled checks, etc. Professional business correspondence, 1963-1993 (#197-214) includes Friedan's correspondence re: real estate, bills, lectures, contracts, etc. There is a good deal of overlap between the material filed here and that in the medical, legal, and financial sections. These folders are CLOSED until January 1, 2043.

Series II, WRITINGS, 1966-ca.1993 (#216a-463, 574, 916-1062, 1070), includes notes and drafts for Friedan's articles and books, printed articles, and correspondence from readers and editors. Specifically included are drafts of The Second Stage (1981), revisions for the 20th anniversary edition of The Feminine Mystique (1983) and the second edition of It Changed My Life (1985), and drafts of The Fountain of Age (1993), as well as numerous interviews and research notes on aging. There is a comprehensive collection of Friedan's articles from 1974 to 1989, with a few from earlier and later years; these cover a broad range of topics, including critiques of the women's movement, her journey to Nicaragua, the 1985 United Nations women's conference in Nairobi, being a grandmother, Outward Bound, men, productive aging, and anti-Semitism. Any reader responses are filed with the relevant books or articles. Press about articles or books is generally included in the clippings in Series I. The series is arranged in chronological order, with all folders for a specific book project filed together.

Papers re: The Second Stage (#252-311) published in 1981, include notes, drafts, published excerpts, and correspondence with editors. Friedan's manifesto for a new direction for feminism, embracing the family, femininity, motherhood, and sexuality, The Second Stage advocated interdependence with men in a joint effort to restructure corporate institutions, work, and family. Chapter drafts are titled with Friedan's original chapter numbers; numbers in square brackets refer to chapters in the printed edition. For some earlier drafts see MC 575; for reader responses and more publisher correspondence, see MC 577.

Papers re: The Fountain of Age (#361-463b, 919-1062, 1070), published in 1993, include multiple drafts and voluminous research conducted over a decade. Friedan called for a transformation of consciousness about aging, rejecting views of old age as a period of pathology, deterioration, weakness, and decline. She interviewed a variety of experts, as well as the "exceptional elderly," to determine secrets to a longer, happier "old age," and to determine how to combat stereotypes and agism. Many of Friedan's interview notes were kept in small, spiral-bound notebooks. When the collection was first sorted and listed, those notebooks that were numbered by Friedan were included in the inventory, while unnumbered notebooks were housed loose in two cartons and not described. The majority of those include research for The Fountain of Age; notebooks with different subject matter are listed in other series. The Fountain of Age notebooks previously in carton 17 are now housed in folders #919-994 and are arranged alphabetically by title; those previously in carton 18 are now in #995-1062 and #1070, and are also listed alphabetically by title. Some notebooks were untitled and the content was indecipherable; these have been kept in this series. Chapter drafts are titled with Friedan's original chapter numbers; numbers in square brackets refer to chapters in the printed edition. For reader responses and publication publicity, see MC 577.

Series III, LECTURES, CONFERENCES, AND INTERVIEWS, 1964-1993 (#215, 464f+-470, 487-573, 575-623o), includes texts of speeches and lectures, transcripts of radio and television talks and interviews, the bulk of the audiotapes and videocassettes, correspondence, arrangements, fliers, and conference programs documenting Friedan's life as an activist and public speaker. Her activism is seen on the local, national, and international level: in the Sag Harbor Initiative in which Friedan and her neighbors on Long Island created a public dialogue within a diverse community; her participation in national Democratic campaigns and conventions; her many speaking engagements abroad; and her participation in the United Nations women's conferences in Copenhagen (1980) and Nairobi (1985). General files with correspondence, arrangements, and background material on many conferences, conventions, and events are included in this series, while Friedan's writings on those events are listed in Series II. For more on the 1972 Republican National Convention, see MC 575. The series is arranged in chronological order.

Series IV, RESEARCH AND TEACHING, 1974-1993 (#486, 624-658), includes grant proposals for an Economic Think Tank for Women and for aging research at Columbia University; and course notes and correspondence while at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government (1981-1982) and Center for Population Studies (1982-1983). Correspondence, programs, course material, and audiotapes document her association with the University of Southern California, as a fellow of the Andrus Institute of Gerontology (1986), and as a visiting distinguished professor at the School of Journalism, the Institute for the Study of Women and Men in Society, and other universities. See also MC 577 for more on Friedan's work at the University of Southern California. The series is arranged in chronological order.

Series V, ORGANIZATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS, AND COMMISSIONS, 1967-1993 (#471-485, 659-717, 1071), documents Friedan's involvement with women's organizations and includes minutes of NOW LDEF board meetings, 1978-1991; a NOW promotional audiotape for Walter Mondale; NOW ERA campaign correspondence; NOW task forces on media reform and volunteerism; and board minutes and fliers of the First Woman's Bank, Girls Clubs of America, the Girl Scouts of USA, Women's City Club, and Women's Forum, Inc. There is scattered material on the National Women's Political Caucus, and material from the National Abortion Rights Action League on Supreme Court nominees. There are reports and minutes of the Harvard University Loran Commission that planned reform of the Harvard Community Health plan, and materials relating to the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress. For access to some of the records of the National Organization for Women (#474-475, 678, 680a, 681, 683-685), written permission is required from the organization. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1961-1993 (#718-908), includes invitations to speak; requests for autographs; notices about women's events and art, literary, and political functions; fliers and posters of events; correspondence with the public, literary agents, authors, publishers, and friends. Also included are Friedan's telephone messages and lists. Most folders contain only incoming mail; some folders contain outgoing as well. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series VII. OVERSIZED AND MEMORABILIA, 1972-1989 (1072f-1074o, Mem.1-Mem.2), includes oversized items and memorabilia removed from the collection. More buttons can be found in Series I.

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 [*].

Audiovisual material has been cataloged separately with more detailed description, 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 of 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 USC (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.


This collection of Betty Friedan's personal and professional papers is organized in seven series and generally follows the arrangement of MC 575.

  1. Series I. Personal and biographical, 1937-1993 (#1-214, 909-915, 1063-1069)
  2. Series II. Writings, 1966-ca.1993 (#216a-463, 574, 916-1062, 1070)
  3. Series III. Lectures, conferences, and interviews, 1964-1993 (#215, 464f+-470, 487-573, 575-623o)
  4. Series IV. Research and teaching, 1974-1993 (#486, 624-658)
  5. Series V. Organizations, associations, and commissions, 1967-1993 (#471-485, 659-717, 1071)
  6. Series VI. General correspondence, 1961-1993 (#718-908)
  7. Series VII. Oversized and memorabilia, 1972-1989 (#1072f-1074o, Mem.1-Mem.2)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 86-M12, 86-M113, 87-M7, 87-M22, 91-M155, 92-M131, 93-M103, 93-M110, 93-M115, 93-M142, 93-M146

These addenda were given to the Schlesinger Library by Betty Friedan between January 1986 and September 1993.

Related Material:

There is additional material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Betty Friedan, 1933-1985 (MC 575); Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1941-2006 (MC 577); 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).


  1. Folders #1-16: FILED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
  2. Box 1: 17-19, 21-25bm
  3. Box 2: 26v, 28a-33v
  4. Box 3: 34v-40v
  5. Box 4: 41av-47v
  6. Box 5: 48-64, 66-69
  7. Box 6: 70, 72-81
  8. Box 7: 83-88
  9. Box 8: 89-104
  10. Box 9: 105-115
  11. Box 10: 116-121
  12. Box 11: 122-138
  13. Box 12: 139-150
  14. Box 13: 151-160
  15. Box 14: 161-166a
  16. Box 15: 166b-173
  17. Box 16: 174-181
  18. Box 17: 182a-188
  19. Box 18: 189-200
  20. Box 19: 201-209
  21. Box 20: 210-214
  22. Box 21: 215-232
  23. Box 22: 233-245
  24. Box 23: 246-257
  25. Box 24: 258-268
  26. Box 25: 269-278
  27. Box 26: 279-290
  28. Box 27: 291-300
  29. Box 28: 301-314
  30. Box 29: 315-323
  31. Box 30: 324-337
  32. Box 31: 338-346
  33. Box 32: 347-365
  34. Box 33: 366-371b
  35. Box 34: 372-375c
  36. Box 35: 376-383b
  37. Box 36: 384-393
  38. Box 37: 394-401
  39. Box 38: 402-410
  40. Box 39: 411-419b
  41. Box 40: 419c-420c
  42. Box 41: 420d-422a
  43. Box 42: 422b-429
  44. Box 43: 430-440
  45. Box 44: 441-447c
  46. Box 45: 448-451b
  47. Box 46: 451c-453b
  48. Box 47: 453c-456b
  49. Box 48: 457a-458c
  50. Box 49: 459a-462b
  51. Box 50: 462c-463b, 465-470
  52. Box 51: 471-484
  53. Box 52: 485-490, 492-496
  54. Box 53: 497-505, 508
  55. Box 54: 509, 512, 516-525
  56. Box 55: 526-535
  57. Box 56: 536a-544
  58. Box 57: 545-551, 553-554
  59. Box 58: 555-556, 558-563
  60. Box 59: 564a-571a
  61. Box 60: 571b-577
  62. Box 61: 578-586b, 589-591
  63. Box 62: 592-593, 595, 598-599, 601-603, 605
  64. Box 63: 606a-606b, 608-614
  65. Box 64: 615-621, 624-629
  66. Box 65: 630-644
  67. Box 66: 645-649, 653-659
  68. Box 67: 660-670
  69. Box 68: 671-678
  70. Box 69: 679-681, 683-689
  71. Box 70: 690-697
  72. Box 71: 698-706
  73. Box 72: 707-720
  74. Box 73: 721-735
  75. Box 74: 736-754
  76. Box 75: 755-771
  77. Box 76: 772-782
  78. Box 77: 783-792
  79. Box 78: 793-804
  80. Box 79: 805-814
  81. Box 80: 815-832
  82. Box 81: 833-843
  83. Box 82: 844-853
  84. Box 83: 854-868
  85. Box 84: 869-883
  86. Box 85: 884-895
  87. Box 86: 896a-908
  88. Box 87: 909-915
  89. Box 88: 916-932
  90. Box 89: 933-946
  91. Box 90: 947-961
  92. Box 91: 962-981
  93. Box 92: 982-1003
  94. Box 93: 1004-1019
  95. Box 94: 1020-1037
  96. Box 95: 1038-1059
  97. Box 96: 1060-1062, 1069-1071
  98. Box 97: 1063-1068

Processing Information

Processed: November 1994

By: Jane S. Knowles

Updated: July 2011

By: Jenny Gotwals and Camille Owens

Updated 2014

By: Jenny Gotwals

Friedan, Betty. Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1937-1993 (inclusive), 1970-1993 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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