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COLLECTION Identifier: T-29

Audio collection of the National Organization for Women, 1966-1991


Audiotapes of National Organization for Women national board meetings, national conference proceedings and workshops, interviews, and speeches.


  • Creation: 1966-1991


Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

NOW Political Action Committee (PAC) Meetings (#1603-1688), are closed pending negotiations. NOW grievance committee recording (#1730-1732) are closed until January 1, 2034.

As of December 2015, board meeting recording are no longer closed and written permission of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. The National Organization for Women retains its copyright in its own records.

Copying. Tapes may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1762 audiotapes
2 phonograph records

This collection contains mostly audiotapes from NOW national board meetings and NOW national conference proceedings. Miscellaneous interviews and speeches are listed at the end of the finding aid and include a number featuring Eleanor Smeal and others discussing the ERA. Materials are arranged largely in chronological order, where dates are identified. Length of tapes is provided, in minutes, where evident, and are estimates. Identifying numbers and labels on the individual tapes were used where found. The collection is arranged into five series.

Series I, NOW National Conferences, 1966-1989 (#1-602), includes tapes of those sessions NOW decided to record, and do not represent every session at a conference. NOW began taping their annual conferences in 1966. The conference tapes consist largely of professional recordings NOW later made available for sale as sets or by individual session. Numbers on the conference tapes do not necessarily correspond with the printed program; rather the numbers correspond just to those sessions which were taped, and available for sale. Often the sessions which were recorded were divided by type of program: workshops were listed with a W prior to the number, hearings with an H, and plenary sessions with a P. This numbering scheme was also kept, where found, e.g.: W.1, H.1, or P.1, etc. For printed materials related to the conferences, such as programs and lists of tape sets available for sale, see MC 496, #21.1-26.8.

Series II, Regional and Subject Conferences (#603-674), contains the Iowa Skills conference (1979), the plenary sessions of the Ohio NOW conference (1983), an incomplete set of tapes from the California State and Southwest Regional Conference (1986), both the plenary and session tapes from the National Abortion Clinic Defense Conference (1990), and an incomplete set of tapes from the National Young Feminist Conference (1991).

Series III, NOW National Board Meetings, 1973-1991 (#675-1602), contains largely amateur recordings of national board meetings beginning with 1973. Although handwritten notes were taken at many of the meetings, transcripts were rarely provided, hence the tapes are the only complete record of the national board meetings. As well, the handwritten notes, found in MC 496, #2.1-6.66, were often annotated with references to the audiocassettes. During many of these post-1973 board meetings, NOW used two tape recorders simultaneously, creating two sets of audiocassettes of each meeting. These two sets, while duplicating the same material, are not exact duplicates of each other, as each recorder was started and stopped at different times. The sets of audiocassettes were labeled according to which recorder each came from, hence labels such as: small and large; b or bl (black) and g or gr (green); and old and new, were retained in the description. Where available, the handwritten notes, mentioned previously, often indicate the starting and stopping times of each set of tapes, and will assist the researcher in locating which tape contains a particular topic. Many sets were not complete, with either missing or damaged tapes; these were noted by the cataloger where found. Due to missing or damaged audiocassettes, as well as the inability to determine if the sets were indeed exact duplicates, both sets were retained as originals.

Series IV, Political Action Committee (PAC) Meetings (#1603-1691), consist of recordings of PAC meetings which were often held in conjunction with national board meetings.

Series V, Miscellaneous Interviews, Meetings, and Public Service Announcements (#1692-1763), is divided into two subseries with miscellaneous recordings listed at the end. Subseries A, Equal Rights Amendment, includes an ERA colloquium, public service announcements, and a number of interviews and speeches with and by Eleanor Smeal. Subseries B, Grievance Committee and Issues, contains a radio interview and presentations from the Ohio Grievance Committee. Included among the miscellaneous tapes is the NOW founders' meeting (1986), Sexist Justice with Karen DeCrow, and 18 tapes which appear to be the audio portion of a documentary project on NOW.


The National Organization for Women began in June 1966 with the efforts of a small group which endeavored to end sex discrimination in the workplace and society at large. More than 300 attended the organizing conference in October 1966, which soon led to the development of state and local chapters. In the 1970s, NOW devoted the majority of its efforts to the passage of the Equal Rights Amendments (ERA). NOW continues to be an active feminist organization. For further history, see the finding aid for the National Organization for Women, MC 496.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. NOW National Conferences, 1966-1989 (#1-602)
  2. Series II. Regional and Subject Conferences (#603-674)
  3. Series III. NOW National Board Meetings, 1973-1991 (#675-1602)
  4. Series IV. Political Action Committee (PAC) Meetings (#1603-1691)
  5. Series V, Miscellaneous Interviews, Meetings, and Public Service Announcements (#1692-1763)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 79-M6, 83-M19, 87-M58, 91-M126--91-M153, 92-M50, 94-M101, 99-M27, 2001-M145, 2002-M93, 2002-M136

These addenda to the records of the National Organization for Women were given to the Schlesinger Library by the National Organization for Women between 1979 and 2002.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see National Organization for Women Records, 1959-2002 (MC 496), National Organization for Women Additional records, 1970-2011 (MC 666), National Organization for Women Videotape collection, 1977-1988 (Vt-25), Additional Audio Collection of the National Organization for Women, ca.1970s-2001 (T-466), and National Organization for Women Moving image collection, 1970-2006 (Vt-241, MP-34, DVD-7).


Donor: National Organization for Women

Accession numbers: 79-M6, 83-M19, 87-M58, 91-M126-91-M153, 92-M50, 94-M101, 99-M27, 2001-M145, 2002-M93, 2002-M136

Processed by: Joanne Donovan

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. 13 duplicate tapes of sessions from National Conferences. Discarded
  2. 3 blank tapes from National Board meetings. Discarded
  3. 3 duplicate radio interviews. Discarded
  4. 5 blank unidentified tapes labeled backup 90. Discarded

Processing Information

Processed: June 2004

By: Joanne Donovan, with assistance from Giselle Schuetz



National Organization for Women. Audio Collection of the National Organization for Women, 1966-1991: 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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