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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 623: T-200: Vt-177: DVD-57: MP-12: Phon-54

Records of the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, 1968-2008


Records of the National Organization for Women Legal Defense & Education Fund (NOW LDEF), founded in 1970 to fight gender inequality in the United States through litigation and public policy advocacy.


  • Creation: 1968-2008

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. The majority of the collection is open for research; restricted folders are noted. Some folders throughout are closed due to personal or sensitive material; all folders relating to Union negotiations (Series II, Subseries C) are closed until 2046. Researchers must obtain written permission of Legal Momentum to view the following folders: financial records (in Series IV and throughout) and board minutes (in Series III and VI) for 20 years after date of creation, legal correspondence files (in Series V and VIII) for 75 years after date of creation.

Letters from women seeking legal assistance have been redacted; material in folders #361.15-363.3 and #430.3-438.2 has been redacted and is open for research; material in folders #371.1-371.4 has been redacted but researchers must also obtain written permission of Legal Momentum before viewing the folders.

An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the NOW LDEF is held by Legal Momentum. 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.


265.42 linear feet ((635 file boxes, 3 half file boxes) plus 1 folio box, 3 folio+ folders, 10 photograph folders, 59 audiotapes, 21 videotapes, 1 DVD, 2 motion pictures, 1 phonograph record, 2 objects, electronic records)

Records of the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (NOW LDEF) include correspondence, notes and research, legal case files, administrative files, financial documents, board minutes, judicial education curricula, papers of officers, publications and publicity, and photographs. Original folder headings were maintained; titles in brackets were created by the archivists. "NLDEF" was used interchangeably with "NOW LDEF" in many original headings.

Some NOW LDEF records (primarily board minutes and correspondence) were transferred from the records of the National Organization for Women during processing of that collection. Records of NOW LDEF's Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) have been processed separately (MC 607).

Series I, HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION, 1970-1987 (#1.1-2.9, PD.1, E.1), contains material related to NOW LDEF's founding and relationship with NOW. Folders include correspondence, by-laws, lists of board members, official documents, histories, etc. Legal Momentum's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX). For annual reports, see Series XIII (#348.9-348.13.) Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series II, ADMINISTRATION, 1972-1999 (#2.10-34.26, F+D.2, T-200.54), contains records, primarily correspondence, of the administrative offices of NOW LDEF. Prior to the establishment of a national office in 1973, records of all sorts were kept by individual board members. See Sylvia Roberts's files (Series V) for some of these earlier records. Topics covered in this series include personnel and office issues, relationship between the NOW LDEF board and staff, outside research projects funded by NOW LDEF in the early and mid-1970s, and funding and staffing a litigation office. The series is divided into four subseries. Subseries C, containing files relating to union negotiations between the NOW LDEF management and staff, is closed until January 1, 2046.

Subseries A, Correspondence, 1973-1989 (#2.10-16.8), contains general NOW LDEF correspondence; the majority is outgoing letters filed chronologically. Chronological files include letters to individual and corporate donors and potential donors; responses to requests for general information or legal support; communications with the board of directors, etc. Blue carbon copies of outgoing correspondence from earlier in the 1970s were initially filed alphabetically by sender. Beginning in June 1979, blue carbon copies of outgoing mail, some filed with associated incoming mail, were titled "blue chron" and kept by date. Around September 1979, the general chronological file was also broken up further by department and staff member; chronological files for some staff members are interfiled in this subseries, but most can be found under the department for which they worked (e.g., legal). Letters sent under the name of Muriel Fox (president, 1978-1981), were filed separately in 1980; these are generally form letters thanking donors or asking for donations. Chronological files of the executive directors are in Subseries B. Folders are arranged with alphabetical general correspondence from the 1970s first, followed by the remaining correspondence, filed chronologically.

Subseries B, Executive director's files, 1974-1994 (#16.9-26.6), contains files marked as belonging specifically to one of NOW LDEF's executive directors: Barbara Cox (1974-1976), Stephanie Clohesy (1977-1985), Marsha Levick (legal director, 1982-1986, and executive director, 1986-1988), or Helen Neuborne (1989-1994). Folders mainly consist of outgoing correspondence filed chronologically, and generally include communication with board members and donors, and internal memos on a variety of subjects: personnel matters, financial and budget issues, office issues, etc. Marsha Levick's files contain some incoming correspondence. In 1984 and 1985, Stephanie Clohesy was the recipient of a Kellogg Foundation grant, and led a group of other fellows on a trip to the 1985 United Nations Women's Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. NOW LDEF served as the fiscal agent for the fellows' trip to Kenya; Clohesy's files on the Nairobi conference trip are included here. A few of Helen Neuborne's files that preceded her time with NOW LDEF are also included. Neuborne's files on "reproductive rights" include model legislation, information on relevant cases, correspondence from coalitions, notes from coalition or strategy meetings, etc. Files on "federal reproductive rights legislation" document an attempt to introduce and pass a Congressional "Freedom of Choice Act." Files are grouped by creator and then arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Union negotiations, 1980-1985 (#27.1-31.4, T-200.54), contains documents concerning negotiations between the management of NOW LDEF and District 65 of the United Auto Workers. In the fall of 1982, some staff members at the New York office of NOW LDEF declared their intent to unionize. In 1983, staff voted to form a union, and contract negotiations began. Some files predate the labor negotiations, and relate to earlier personnel issues that spurred unionization efforts. Files were created by executive director Stephanie Clohesy and other staff in management positions, and include correspondence with staff and board members, NOW LDEF's labor lawyer, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), members of the public, etc. Files also contain handwritten notes from meetings with lawyers, negotiation talks, staff meetings, etc. Files are arranged alphabetically. All union negotiation files are closed until January 1, 2046.

Subseries D, General files, 1972-1999 (#32.1-34.26, F+D.2), contains general folders kept on administrative topics by the NOW LDEF office, and includes individual personnel files, files on projects seeking funding, information on NOW conferences, staff lists and staff meeting notes, etc. Many files are from the early years of the office, including those of the Women's Advocacy Project, documenting NOW LDEF's initial effort to raise funds to hire staff attorneys. Files on the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) relate to the agreement between NOW LDEF and several other similar legal nonprofit organizations to purchase an office building together in 1983. Other PILC files can be found in Series IV, Subseries C. Files are arranged alphabetically. Individual personnel files are closed for 50 years from the date the individual ceased employment with NOW LDEF.

Series III, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, 1970-2005 (#35.1-57.5, 638.1-639.14), contains minutes, correspondence, reports, and other records of NOW LDEF's board of directors. The series is arranged in two subseries. Material in this series is restricted for 20 years from date of creation.

Subseries A, Minutes and meetings, 1970-2005 (#35.1-51.9, 638.1-639.14), contains minutes, correspondence, notes, agendas, and reports. Board meeting folders may include the following: draft and final minutes, schedules, draft and final agendas, budgets, correspondence with board members before and after meetings, reports to the NOW national board, committee reports, etc. Files may contain only minutes of meetings (this is more likely in the early 1970s), both minutes and accompanying meeting documents, or only information about meetings but no minutes (in this case the folder title states "meeting"). Files of board meetings from the 1970s contain more administrative material about preparing for the meetings; beginning in the 1980s they mainly include official "packets" sent to board members in advance of meetings. A master set of minutes (which duplicate those in #35.1-51.9, but do not include related documents) is closed to research (#638.1-639.14). Records of separate meetings of the executive or other committees, as well as the NOW LDEF "membership" (comprised of the NOW LDEF board as well as NOW board members) are also included here. Files are arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Correspondence, memos, and mailings, 1970-1999 (#52.1-57.5), contains communications between NOW LDEF staff and board members, and between board members. Early correspondence was filed by board member as well as filed chronologically. Loose correspondence was foldered by year by the archivist. In the late 1980s, board members received monthly updates of program activities, which are included here. The subseries is arranged with correspondence with individual members first, followed by committees, and then by general memos and correspondence.

Series IV, DEVELOPMENT AND FINANCE, 1970-2003 (#57.6-62.22, 67.1-94.55, FD.1), contains NOW LDEF's budgets, grant files, year-end financial reports, fundraising records, and correspondence. The series is arranged in four subseries. Some material in this series is restricted for 20 years from date of creation.

Subseries A, Audits, budgets, and reports, 1972-2003 (#57.6-60.11, F+D.1), contains financial reports, ledgers, bills, etc. Material is extremely scattered in terms of date: some is from the early years of the organization, other files date from the end of the 1990s. Included are files about tracking grant expenditures; these often contain project descriptions and detailed project budgets. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1970-1987 (#60.12-62.22, 67.1-73.5), contains routine financial correspondence, including that of administrators, tax consultants, and treasurers. Some files are the records of May Glazer, who served as a tax advisor for NOW LDEF in the 1970s; they contain Glazer's correspondence with administrators and board members about tax, legal and financial matters, income tax returns, bills for legal services, etc. A few of Glazer's research files are also included. Chronological correspondence files generally contain copies of outgoing correspondence, but may include internal department correspondence as well. Folders titled "development" are generally letters to personal donors, while those titled "fundraising" involve foundations. "Financial" correspondence is generally from the comptroller. Some staff members have individual files. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, General fundraising, 1972-2000 (#73.6-79.5), contains documents related to NOW LDEF's efforts to fund its programs. Folders contain fundraising reports, correspondence, memos, dinner programs and invitations, etc. In the 1980s, NOW LDEF participated in the Combined Federal Campaign, a mechanism whereby federal employees could donate money to charities; many files document the income from this project. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries D, Foundation and corporate fundraising, 1971-1991 (#79.6-94.55), contains files on corporations and foundations from which NOW LDEF solicited money. Folders include correspondence and some financial reports. In the 1980s, NOW LDEF organized a National Corporate Advisory Board in order to further involve interested donors and find additional sources of potential income. Folders related to that board include event material and correspondence. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Series V, PAPERS OF OFFICERS: SYLVIA ROBERTS, 1970-1978 (#357.3-370.11, PD.6), contains the files of Roberts, a Louisiana attorney who was president of NOW LDEF from 1972 to 1974. She remained on the board of directors, acting as general counsel until at least 1984, and was later named a distinguished director. Prior to the funding of a staff attorney position in 1976, Roberts undertook much of the legal work done by NOW LDEF. During her tenure as president, NOW LDEF hired an administrator and opened an office in New York City. Prior to this, and to some extent afterward given her location in Louisiana, Roberts handled much of the administrative business and correspondence herself. This series therefore contains a good deal of correspondence documenting the early years of NOW LDEF, as well as legal case files; requests for legal assistance; research on academic discrimination cases; receipts; meeting notes; agendas and minutes; etc. These records were given to NOW LDEF by Roberts. The series is divided into two subseries.

Subseries A, Administrative files, 1970-1978 (#357.3-364.3), contains Roberts's files relating specifically to NOW LDEF; she generally used "NLDEF" as part of the folder title. Included are folders dating from after 1974, when she was no longer president; correspondence dating from 1974 and later includes standard mailings from the NOW LDEF office to board members. Folders of general correspondence include letters to and from NOW LDEF board members, NOW board members, other attorneys, and women seeking legal assistance. These folders may also include phone messages, notes on legal cases, memos, meeting agendas, etc. Board meeting minutes without Roberts's notes were removed from folders; see Series III. NOW LDEF board members appear as correspondents throughout the subseries. Folders are organized alphabetically. Also included are two folders of NOW material, filed at the end of the subseries.

Subseries B, Legal issues and case files, 1970-1978 (#364.4-370.11, PD.6), includes Roberts's legal files on NOW LDEF-related cases; many here relate to academic discrimination on the basis of gender. It is somewhat unclear for which of these cases Roberts actually received financial support from NOW LDEF (her receipts, including for case-related telephone calls, can be found in Subseries A). Folders that contain the term "adopted" in their title refer to cases the NOW LDEF board's defense committee voted to support in some way. Folders in this subseries all arrived from NOW LDEF with Roberts's handwriting or labels on them; other files relating to cases Roberts was involved in can be found in Series VIII. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, PAPERS OF OFFICERS: GENE BOYER, 1968-1993 (#95.1-115.11, PD.2), includes correspondence, budgets, reports, meeting packets, etc., of Gene Boyer, NOW representative to the NOW LDEF board (1970-1973), NOW LDEF board member (1974-1976), president (1977-1978), vice president (1978-1993), and emeritus board member (1993-1997). Files document NOW LDEF finances, staffing and personnel issues, publicity campaigns, projects, board committee activities, as well as other issues discussed by the board. Board meeting materials include packets distributed to board members containing by-laws, proposals, reports, budgets, notes, etc. Packets generally included minutes, which were removed to Series III. Files were created by Boyer and are arranged alphabetically.

Series VII, LEGAL DEPARTMENT, 1971-2000 (#371.1-448.2, 636.17), contains administrative records of NOW LDEF attorneys: legal research and notes, correspondence, subject files, lists of briefs filed, minutes from meetings, requests for legal assistance, etc. In 1977, NOW LDEF hired a staff attorney, and created the legal department. Files relating to initial fundraising for the "Women's Access Project" (the early plan to hire an attorney) are in Series III, Subseries D. Some earlier folders (1971-1976) arrived with the later folders from the department (1977-1997), and have been kept together. Legal case files can be found in Series VIII. Projects organized or overseen by the legal department can be found in Series IX and X. The series is divided into four subseries.

Subseries A, Correspondence, 1973-1997 (#371.1-430.2), primarily contains outgoing letters from NOW LDEF attorneys. Chronological correspondence files also include internal department memos, outgoing letters from project staff (NJEP; insurance; ERA impact, etc.), letters sent with enclosures of information, communications with other lawyers, law professors, etc. Copies of enclosures are sometimes included prior to 1986; beginning that year briefs and other legal papers filed (as well as testimonies, reports, or speeches) are included in the folder among the outgoing correspondence. Folders for 1987 and 1988 include overview reports on the NOW LDEF legal program sent to the Ford Foundation (a funder). Folders for 1989 include lists of available publications, legal fact sheets, and correspondence about publications, etc. Some folders contain copies of legal resource kits put out by NOW LDEF staff; these are noted when present. Folders from 1990 and later include information on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the VAWA task force. Folders after 1990 generally include material on abortion clinic violence cases and general information. After 1994, much correspondence deals with welfare and welfare reform. Several folders from 1994 contain material on "Kadic v. Karadzic," a case involving Bosnian women's rights in which NOW LDEF was co-counsel with Catharine MacKinnon. Folders from the mid- to late-1990s contain correspondence and material relating to single-sex education and Title IX. Correspondents throughout the subseries are generally other women's rights lawyers or activists, including Catharine MacKinnon, Sylvia Law, Lynn Paltrow, Heidi Hartmann, Bernice Sandler, and others. Confidential chronological files, titled as such by the legal department, include documents subject to attorney-client privilege, and are to be closed until the presumed death of the client. Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Requests for legal assistance, 1973-1993 (#430.3-438.2), contains correspondence with individuals, attorneys, and NOW chapters requesting litigation or financial support from NOW LDEF. Some individual correspondents seek direct legal representation or advice, some need money for already-in-process legal cases; attorneys often sought financial support, legal information, or amicus briefings in support of their cases. Responses from NOW LDEF staff are often filed with incoming requests. Requests from the 1970s are largely employment related; correspondents have often filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a similar agency and want follow-up assistance. Other common case topics from that decade include academic discrimination, divorce, custody, and the legality of a woman retaining her own name upon marriage. Topics discussed in the 1980s include divorce, custody, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment. Some folders contain summaries of cases written by legal department staff for the defense committee of the NOW LDEF board or the full board; these are noted below as "memos to board," and generally contain discussions of support in ongoing cases, requests for permission to write or join amicus briefs, or to take on co-counsel status in appeals, etc. These memos may duplicate what can be found in Series II, Subseries A. Requests received in 1986 and 1987 were filed by topic. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries C, General and staff files, 1971-2000 (#438.3-442.14, 636.7), contains legal department administrative files, as well as some folders specifically marked as belonging to legal department attorneys. General administrative files include staff meeting notes, lists of cases and cooperating attorneys, etc. Some files contain public testimonies by others (often on behalf of NOW LDEF) on litigation or relevant issues; other testimonies are in Series XIII. Files that belonged to legal directors or other attorneys generally include notes on cases, correspondence, memos, etc. Research files on BEGIN (a New York City welfare literacy program) may have to do with the legal case Collazzo v. Bane. Files of attorneys are arranged alphabetically, then chronologically. General files follow, and are arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Legal research and subject files, 1975-1997 (#443.1-448.2), contains research files relating to Supreme Court and other judicial nominees, and topics on which NOW LDEF produced publications. Files on reproductive freedom contain handwritten notes and/or annotated copies of state legal codes, which may have been research for The State-by-State Guide to Women's Rights. Files on legislative reform of incest laws are mainly related to changing laws in New York State, a process in which attorney Sally Goldfarb was active. NOW LDEF testified against, or participated in testimony against, many judicial nominees. Files on Supreme Court nominees include correspondence with similar organizations, annotated research, drafts of testimonies, etc. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Series VIII, LEGAL CASES, 1970-2005 (#448.3-636.6, PD.7, PD.8sl), contains correspondence, briefs, depositions, clippings, notes, research, drafts, hearing transcripts, and other material relating to legal cases in which NOW LDEF played a role. Topics addressed in the cases include abortion and other reproductive rights, divorce and other family law issues, welfare rights, single-sex schoools, sexual harassment, violence against women, etc. Most of the cases below are listed with descriptions as to the subject matter on the Legal Momentum website; many of those that date from before 1982 are not. Additional files on many cases dating from the early to mid-1970s can be found in Sylvia Roberts's files in Series V. Much of the legal work for Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic and NOW v. Operation Rescue was done pro bono by lawyers at Covington & Burling; many of the files for these cases are from those lawyers. Case material is organized following NOW LDEF's general filing system: correspondence is foldered separately (and requires written permission of Legal Momentum for 75 years from the date of the folder unless otherwise noted), as are legal papers, depositions, transcripts, press and publicity, and research. "Legal papers" may include briefs filed, appendices, court or deposition transcripts, court orders or opinions, etc. For cases with many folders of legal papers, a distinction has been made between the court levels (District, Court of Appeals, etc.) Cases are alphabetized according to legal convention.

Series IX, PROJECTS, 1972-2005 (#115.12-144.9, PD.3, Vt-177.17), includes correspondence, fact sheets, press packets, surveys, project proposals, grant proposals, etc., relating to NOW LDEF's legal, legislative, and educational programs. Projects include those undertaken solely by NOW LDEF and in conjunction with other organizations. Files are arranged alphabetically by project name when possible. NOW LDEF undertook many projects relating to the same general topics, including child care, the ERA, and welfare, and it is often unclear to which project files belong. Such files are arranged alphabetically by topic and are assigned to a specific project only when they were clearly identified by NOW LDEF staff. For additional projects, see Series X, National Judicial Education Program, and Records of Project on Equal Education Rights, 1966-1991 (MC 607). Some records of the Media Project are housed at the University of Missouri's National Women in Media Collection.

Series X, NATIONAL JUDICIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM (NJEP), 1977-2008 (#145.1-331.2; T-200.59, Vt-177.14 - Vt-177.16, Vt-177.18 - Vt-177.20, DVD-57.1, PD.4, PD.5), includes correspondence, reports, publications, drafts, notes, clippings, speeches, etc., documenting the administration and accomplishments of NJEP, whose purpose is to educate judges and justice system professionals about gender bias in civil, criminal, family and juvenile law, and how to prevent it. Established in 1980 by NOW LDEF in cooperation with the National Association of Women Judges, NJEP supports the state supreme court task forces on gender bias in the courts by serving as a catalyst for change. From 1980 to 1981, Norma Wikler served as NJEP's director. Since 1981, the program has been directed by Lynn Hecht Schafran. Under her leadership, NJEP has produced and presented model judicial curricula used nationally and internationally by judges, attorneys, and other legal professionals within the justice system. Schafran has also published many highly influential articles, essays, and reports in the judicial and legal press. The series is arranged in eleven subseries.

Subseries A, Administrative, 1977-2008 (#145.1-169.5), includes correspondence, reports, notes, financial records, etc. Correspondence consists mainly of project updates to NOW LDEF board members and outside advisors, and thank-yous to individuals and corporations for donations, project advice, and program support. Correspondence files from the 1990s also often contain updates on NOW LDEF legal cases worked on by NJEP director Lynn Hecht Schafran. Financial records include fundraising correspondence, grant proposals, and budgets. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Norma Wikler files, 1978-2002 (#169.6-172.6), includes correspondence, reports, clippings, etc., documenting Wikler's tenure as the first head of NJEP and her subsequent work as a consultant for the program. Files were arranged by Wikler, who also wrote a history of her involvement with NJEP and a detailed inventory of the files she collected and donated (#169.6).

Subseries C, National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), 1979-1999 (#172.7-180.5), includes correspondence, publications, drafts, notes, questionnaires, financial documents, etc., documenting NAWJ's support of NJEP, and their joint projects. The Women Judge's Fund for Justice, the educational branch of NAWJ, teamed with NJEP in a grant from the State Justice Institute that resulted in the production of four publications by Lynn Hecht Schafran and Norma Wikler; they were and distributed by both NAWJ and NOW LDEF. Publications, drafts, financial records, notes, etc., relating to this joint project are included in this series. The records (MC 436) and additional records (MC 749) of NAWJ are also held by the Schlesinger Library. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries D, Judicial, public, and legal education, 1980-2008 (#180.6-201.5), includes correspondence, speeches, notes, etc., relating to NJEP's presentations and advisory input on programs about gender bias in the courts for judicial colleges and organizations, bar associations, law schools, and legal and lay organizations. NJEP provided advice through correspondence and phone calls, responded to drafts of action plans designed to eliminate gender bias in the courts, and gave speeches or short presentations and workshops at conferences and other events. NJEP also presented workshops using extensive curricula it developed, which are documented in Subseries E, G, and H. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries E, Adjudicating Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse When Custody Is in Dispute, 1977-2002 (#201.6-218.3), includes correspondence, manuals, drafts, notes, etc., documenting the development and implementation of NJEP's curriculum concerning allegations of sexual abuse in custody and visitation disputes. The curriculum sought to promote the fair administration of justice by improving courts' ability to assess child sexual abuse allegations, and to make decisions that reflect the best interests of the child. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries F, Gender Fairness Strategies Project, 1991-2002 (#218.4-226.2, T-200.59), includes correspondence, publications, surveys, financial records, etc., relating to a joint project between NJEP and the National Association of Women Judges, the National Judicial College, the National Center for State Courts, and the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession to institutionalize state efforts to eliminate gender bias in courts, and establish a permanent foundation for future fairness for women and men in the courts. The project, primarily overseen by the National Association of Women Judges, had two parts. The first was a state-by-state implementation survey of state task forces and implementation committees on gender bias in the courts and publication of an implementation resources directory. The second brought together key states and achievers in the gender equity implementation effort to advance the action agenda through a strategic meeting, implementation strategies manual, and technical assistance teams. The project resulted in the publication of Implementation Resources Directory (1998) and Gender Fairness in the Courts: Action in the New Millennium (2001), as well as the Maximizing Our Gains Conference. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries G, Understanding sexual violence, 1984-2005 (#226.3-254.2, Vt-177.14 - Vt-177.16, Vt-177.18 - Vt-177.20, DVD-57.1), includes correspondence, manuals, drafts, notes, etc., documenting the development and implementation of three curricula focusing on the judicial response to rape and sexual assault. Understanding Sexual Violence: The Judicial Response to Stranger and Nonstranger Rape and Sexual Assault, first published in 1994, provided social science research about victim reactions during and after the assault, rape-related post-traumatic stress disorder, sex offender sentencing and treatment, and jurors' attitudes towards rape. A self-directed curriculum, Understanding Sexual Violence: The Judge's Role in Stranger and Nonstranger Rape and Sexual Assault Cases, was released in two forms. The first consisted of three videotapes and an instructor's guide and the second contained a DVD disc (with both a DVD and a ROM portion), which incorporated the videotapes and manual and directed users to an associated web site. In addition to topics covered in the book, the curriculum included research on the neurobiology of trauma. Understanding Sexual Violence: Prosecuting Adult Rape and Sexual Assault Cases, a model four-day curriculum for prosecutors, used a case file to explore issues surrounding the prosecution of nonstranger rape cases, including the effect of rape myths and stereotypes on charging decisions, victim treatment, forensic evidence, and sexual assault examinations. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries H, When Bias Compounds: Insuring Equal Justice for Women of Color in the Courts, 1982-2002 (#254.3-267.9), includes correspondence, manuals, drafts, notes, etc., documenting the development and implementation of a NJEP curriculum designed to prompt judges to think about actions they could take to address problems faced in the courts by women of color as litigants, witnesses, defendants, employees, lawyers and judges. Using a variety of interactive teaching techniques, including case studies, expert presentations, small and large group discussions, role-plays and action planning, the curriculum encouraged judges to think about how to insure equal access to justice and equal participation in the judicial system for women of color. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries I, National gender bias task force movement, 1981-2007 (#268.1-306.4, PD.4), includes correspondence, speeches, reports, meeting transcripts, notes, surveys, etc., relating to NJEP's activities surrounding task forces established by state chief justices and federal circuit councils to examine gender bias in their own court systems. NJEP provided technical assistance to the task forces in all phases of their work as investigating bodies, implementation committees, and standing committees of the courts. NJEP's involvement ranged from answering a few questions and providing literature to guide task forces, to closely advising task forces as they identified issues and implemented plans. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries J, Other projects, 1980-2004 (#306.5-312.6), includes correspondence, notes, clippings, etc., documenting NJEP's efforts to encourage bar associations to address the issue of gender bias and to introduce gender issues into codes of conduct for lawyers and judges. Also included are materials relating to one of NJEP's earliest trainings, Judicial Discretion: Does Sex Make a Difference? Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries K, Press, publications, speeches, 1978-2005 (#313.1-331.2, PD.5), contains correspondence, clippings, publications, drafts, and speeches. Most of the publications and speeches, all of which are on the topics of judicial education and gender bias in the courts, were written by Lynn Hecht Schafran and may or may not have been created as part of her work for NJEP. Correspondence is mostly between Schafran and editors concerning changes to her work. Publications that were produced in conjunction with the Women Judge's Fund for Justice can be found in Subseries C. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XI, WASHINGTON, D.C., OFFICE, 1990-2004 (#331.3-340.2), includes legal project files, legislative materials, coalition files, and subject files. NOW LDEF maintained an office in Washington, D.C., for much of its history. The office dissolved in the late 1980s, and was reorganized in the early 1990s in order to focus on legislative work; these files are from the later incarnation of the office. The series is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Legislative, 1990-2003 (#331.3-337.17), contains correspondence, research, and other documentation of NOW LDEF staff efforts to influence federal legislation. Most files refer to specific legislation, general topics of interest, task forces and coalition meetings, government nominees, etc. The major pieces of legislation documented here are the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). NOW LDEF coordinated the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, a group of interested organizations that were also concerned with the language and passage of the VAWA. Folders contain correspondence, clippings, coalition meeting notes and minutes, research, testimonies, fact sheets, and lobbying documentation. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Immigrant Women Program, 1994-2004 (#337.18-340.2), contains training materials, brochures, and fact sheets about legal services for immigrant women. NOW LDEF's Immigrant Women Program (IWP) was begun in 1999 by attorney Leslye Orloff; some brochures and fact sheets about rights of immigrant women are from her previous work at Ayuda, an immigrant rights organization. Most of the training files are the product of a grant NOW LDEF received from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Violence Against Women to develop curricula and training on the legal rights of immigrant women. Training material includes packets with powerpoint slides of presentations, handouts, and notes. The IWP chaired the National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women, a group of more than 500 organizations. Fact sheets on legal rights of immigrant women are in English, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, and Spanish. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XII, CONFERENCES, 1977-2000 (#63.1-66.2, 340.3-348.7, 637FB.2), contains material from conferences and similar events organized by NOW LDEF. Folders may include correspondence, planning notes and other preliminary documents, and final conference reports and proceedings. The series is arranged in four subseries, one of which combines several small events.

Subseries A, National Assembly on the Future of the Family, 1978-1981 (#340.3-341.11), contains documents relating to this event, which took place on November 19, 1979. Panel discussions were organized to present and promote new ideas for addressing issues such as family law, child care, education, the status and security of homemakers, workplace changes to accommodate two-career families, domestic violence, and the special needs of minority families and older people. Folders contain background research papers prepared by Barnard College students, correspondence, press releases, panel synopses and transcripts, fundraising materials, etc. Some correspondence about the Assembly can be found in Clelia Steele's correspondence files (#63.7-63.9) in Subseries B. Audiotapes of the panels (T-200.4 - T-200.48) can be found in Series XIV, Subseries A. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Leadership events, 1979-1981 (#63.1-66.12), contains material from several events focused on women's leadership in the public sector. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, NOW LDEF planned a small roundtable on leadership issues (October 29, 1980), a large "National Convocation on the New Leadership in the Public Interest" (March 31, 1981), and three additional meetings with civil rights organizations in Washington, D.C. (November 24, 1980; January 12 and 21, 1981). This year-long project occurred under the direction of Clelia Steele. Files contain drafts and final versions of "New Leadership in the Public Interest: A Report" and "The Report: Round Table on New Leadership in the Public Interest," planning notes and documents, correspondence, fundraising and financial materials, participant and advisory committee lists, speaker biographies, meeting agendas and summaries, conference agendas and abstracts, conference transcripts, conference handouts, and publicity. Audiotapes of the roundtable are in Series XIV, Subseries A. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries C, Poverty conference, 1995-2000 (#342.1-347.4), contains planning material for "To Promote the General Welfare: Ending Women's Poverty," a conference held at Georgetown University Law Center, March 6-7, 2000. This conference addressed topics such as child care, domestic violence, reproductive freedom, education, wage inequality and the effects of welfare reform on women's opportunities. Folders contain correspondence, lists (of speakers, attendees, volunteers, etc.), planning notes and other material, promotional material, conference agenda, financial documents, and background research on welfare and poverty. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries D, Other events, 1977-1996 (#347.5-348.7, 637FB.2), contains files on smaller public events held by NOW LDEF. Included is material from "Getting Over the Hurdle: Race and Gender in Sports Media," a roundtable held in Los Angeles on July 25-26, 1988, and co-sponsored by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Women's Sports Foundation. Two events on welfare policies were held in 1992: a "Roundtable for Activists and Advocates: Challenging the Welfare War on Women" met in June 1992, and a larger "Planning Conference on Women's Economic Survival" took place in December 1992. Both focused in part on combating the welfare policies of President Bill Clinton. Also included in the subseries are files on the forum "Violence Against Women: Forging a Legal Response" (October 23, 1993) and the roundtable "The Image of Feminism in the Public Eye" (April 1996). Folders contain correspondence, planning notes, research, press clippings, lists of attendees, budgets and funding material, etc. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XIII, PUBLICITY AND PUBLICATIONS, 1972-2007 (#348.8-357.4, 636.8-636.10, 637FB.3, Phon-54.1, MP-12.1 - MP-12.2, Vt-177.2), includes annual reports, brochures, correspondence, press kits, press releases, articles, comments, statements, testimonies by NOW LDEF staff; etc. Also included are files relating to the creation and distribution of NOW LDEF's video training course, Sexual Harassment: Walking the Corporate Line, and the NOW LDEF published book, The State-By-State Guide to Women's Legal Rights. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series XIV, AUDIOVISUAL, MEMORABILIA, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND OVERSIZED, 1973-2002 (#T-200.1 - T-200.59, Phon-54.1, MP-12.1 - MP-12.2, Vt-177.1 - Vt-177.20, DVD-57.1, PD.9-PD.10, 637FB.1-637FB.3, F+D.1-F+D.3, Mem.1-Mem.2), contains audiotapes, videotapes, motion pictures, a phonograph album, photographs, and a banner. It is arranged in four subseries by format.

Subseries A, Audiovisual, 1973-2002 (#T200.1 - T200.59, Phon-54.1, MP-12.1 - MP-12.2, Vt.177.1 - Vt-177.20, DVD-57.1), contains audiotapes, videotapes, a phonograph record, motion pictures, and a DVD. Audiotapes are primarily recorded conference sessions. A number of videotapes document focus groups of women who were asked questions about the challenges facing women, and to react to certain statements and stories about women's rights and women's equality (presumably these were used to hone NOW LDEF's public image and relations). Material related to NOW LDEF's union negotiations is closed until January 1, 2046. The subseries is arranged with audiotapes followed by phonographs, motion pictures, videotapes and DVDs, and with each format arranged chronologically.

Subseries B. Memorabilia, ca.1973, n.d. (#Mem.1-Mem.2), contains a banner, probably used in marches and/or at conferences and events, and a button from the Public Service Advertising campaign.

Subseries C. Photographs, 1978-1992 (#PD.9-PD.10), contains images of NOW LDEF staff, board members, and events. A selection 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 D. Oversized, 1995 (#637.1-637.3, F+D.1-F+D.3), contains oversized materials removed from folders described above, and contact sheets from a NOW LDEF Summit on the Intersection of Violence and Poverty.

Records of the National Center for Women and Family Law (which were probably given to NOW LDEF when the Center dissolved in 1996) were transferred to the National Center for Women and Family Law Records already in the Schlesinger Library.


The NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, (known as Legal Momentum since 2004), was one of the first legal organizations in the United States devoted solely to working for gender equality. In March 1970, members of the National Organization for Women's Legal Committee incorporated the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (NOW LDEF) as a separate 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to furthering women's rights through litigation, and to raising funds to support legal and educational projects relating to women. In 1971, NOW LDEF was granted tax-exempt status.

NOW LDEF was run by a small board of directors, and its "membership" was comprised of this board, as well as all members of the NOW board. The first board meeting was held on July 14, 1970. The first national office was established in New York City in 1973. NOW LDEF hired a small administrative staff, and in 1974 added an executive director. Actual legal work was initially done pro bono by board members or else by cooperating attorneys. Most early legal work consisted of filing amicus briefs or distributing funds to lawsuits already underway (many of them initiated by NOW or NOW chapters). Initial case work focused on employment discrimination, academic discrimination, and family law. In 1977 NOW LDEF raised funds to hire a legal director, and began to have a paid litigation staff. While the organization received hundreds of letters from individual women asking for legal assistance, the legal department tried to focus on precedent-setting suits that would affect large numbers of women. Attorneys also compiled legal guides on topics concerning women, and drafted model legislation on topics such as child custody and domestic violence.

In the early 1970s, NOW LDEF raised funds to distribute to feminist research or policy projects that applied for assistance. The organization soon began to found and manage its own projects, the largest of which were the Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER, 1974-1992), and the National Judicial Education Program (NJEP, 1980-ongoing). Lynn Hecht Schafran has served as director of the National Judicial Education Program since 1981. For additional details concerning her accomplishments see Series X. Projects: National Judicial Education Program in this finding aid.

The 1976 Tax Reform Act allowed 501(c)(3) organizations to lobby the federal government. NOW LDEF began its direct attempts to influence national public policy with a campaign (in conjunction with NOW and other feminist organizations) to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In the early 1990s NOW LDEF began lobbying in Washington, D.C., for the Violence Against Women Act (passed in 1994), and also worked to pass effective legislation on topics ranging from sexual harassment to welfare.

In 2004 NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund changed its name to Legal Momentum. For a more detailed history, including a timeline of the organization and a database of legal cases, see the Legal Momentum website,


The collection is arranged in fourteen series:

  1. Series I. History and organization, 1970-1987 (#1.1-2.9, PD.1, E.1)
  2. Series II. Administration, 1972-1999 (#2.10-34.26, F+D.2, T-200.54)
  3. Series III. Board of directors, 1970-2005 (#35.1-57.5, 638.1-639.14)
  4. Series IV. Development and finance, 1970-2003 (#57.6-62.22, 67.1-94.55, F+D.1)
  5. Series V. Papers of officers: Sylvia Roberts, 1970-1978 (#357.3-370.11, PD.6)
  6. Series VI. Papers of officers: Gene Boyer, 1968-1993 (#95.1-115.11, PD.2)
  7. Series VII. Legal department, 1971-2000 (#371.1-448.2, 636.17)
  8. Series VIII. Legal cases, 1970-2005 (#448.3-636.6, PD.7, PD.8sl)
  9. Series IX. Projects, 1972-2005 (#115.12-144.9, PD.3, Vt-177.17)
  10. Series X. Projects: National Judicial Education Program (NJEP), 1977-2008 (#145.1-331.2; T-200.59, Vt-177.14 - Vt-177.16, Vt-177.18 - Vt-177.20, DVD-57.1, PD.4, PD.5)
  11. Series XI. Washington, D.C., office, 1990-2004 (#331.3-340.2)
  12. Series XII. Conferences, 1977-2000 (#63.1-66.12, 340.3-348.7, 637FB.2)
  13. Series XIII. Publicity and publications, 1972-2007 (#348.8-357.4, 636.8-636.10, 637FB.3, Phon-54.1, MP-12.1 - MP-12.2, Vt-177.2)
  14. Series XIV. Audiovisual, memorabilia, photographs, and oversized, 1973-2002 (#T-200.1 - T-200.59, Phon-54.1, MP-12.1 - MP-12.2, Vt-177.1 - Vt-177.20, DVD-57.1, PD.9-PD.10, 637FB.1-637FB.3, F+D.1-F+D.3, Mem.1-Mem.2)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 84-M198, 86-M94, 86-M110, 87-M131, 90-M158, 90-M165, 90-M173, 91-M117, 92-M125, 92-M174, 92-M188, 93-M26, 93-M71, 93-M65, 93-M84, 93-M120, 93-M129, 93-M137, 94-M155, 94-M190, 95-M29, 95-M40, 95-M41, 95-M42, 95-M55, 95-M79, 95-M99, 95-M133, 97-M20, 97-M70, 97-M87, 97-M119, 98-M153, 98-M183, 99-M15, 99-M16, 2000-M158, 2001-M82, 2002-M80, 2002-M89, 2003-M11, 2004-M131, 2005-M87, 2005-M128, 2006-M4, 2006-M45, 2006-M69, 2006-M112, 2006-M124, 2007-M45, 2007-M55, 2007-M65, 2007-M226, 2008-M101, 2008-M181, 2009-M161, 2009-M171, 2010-M93

The records of the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund were given by the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (now Legal Momentum), Gene Boyer, Catherine East, Janet Giele, and Norma Wikler, between 1984 and 2010. Additional materials were transferred from the records of the National Organization for Women (MC 496).

Related Materials

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund Videotape Collection, 1984-1990 (Vt-67); the Project on Equal Education Rights Records, 1966-1991 (MC 607); Legal Momentum Records, 1978-2011 (MC 727); the Lynn Hecht Schafran Papers, 1957-2013 (MC 825); Records of the National Association of Women Judges, 1979-1997 (inclusive), 1979-1989 (bulk) (MC 436); Additional records of the National Association of Women Judges, 1966-2012 (MC 749); and the personal papers of many NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund staff and board members (Kathy Bonk, Catherine East, Muriel Fox, Betty Friedan, Marguerite Rawalt, Sheila Tobias, Mary Jean Tully, et al.).


Donor: NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund

Processed by: Johanna Carll and Jenny Gotwals

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. International Association of Women Judges. Counterbalance International. Vol.1, No.1, Spring/Summer 1992
  2. M.A.N. for E.R.A. M.A.N. for E.R.A. Newsletter. Vol. 1, No. 1 - No.3, Vol. 2, No.2, June 1978 - October 1979
  3. National Association of Women Judges. NAWJ News & Notes. Vol. 2, No.2 - Vol.8, No.3, Fall 1981-Winter 1988 (7 issues)
  4. National Association of Women Judges. NAWJ Counter Balance. Vol.9, No.1 - Vol.20, No.3, Summer 1988 - Winter 1999 (35 issues)
  5. National Conference of Women's Bar Associations. Newsletter, Volume 7, No.1, July 1989, Volume 10, No.1, July 1992

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection pending review by curator:

  1. Eason, David E. For Services Rendered: A Handbook on Women's Rights in Michigan, 1978
  2. Grass Roots Organizing for Welfare Leadership. Welfare Reform as We Know It. 2001?
  3. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Remember My Name: A collection of letters, poems, articles, and lives. 1995
  4. National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. Title IX at 25. 1997

Processing Information

Processed: January 2011

By: Jenny Gotwals and Johanna Carll, with assistance from Sarah Funke Donovan and Su Ciampa

Genre / Form


NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund. Records of the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, 1968-2008: 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, the Radcliffe College Class of 1955, the Radcliffe College Class of 1956, and the Radcliffe College Class of 1968.

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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