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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 580: T-381

Records of Massachusetts NOW, 1970-2006


Records of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) document its efforts on behalf of women's rights and an end to violence against women through lobbying the state legislature, advocating before government agencies, and organizing public demonstrations.


  • Creation: 1970-2006

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Written permission of an officer designated by Massachusetts NOW. Current and previous leadership of Massachusetts NOW and National NOW may have access to restricted records created up to and during their tenure in office.

Detailed membership lists, financial records, grievance and personnel files, etc. (#1.4, 1.9-1.11, 2.10, 4.3, 4.11, 11.10) are closed for 50 years from date of creation. Massachusetts NOW officers may have access to closed records created up to and during their tenure in office.

An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Massachusetts NOW is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. This copyright transfer does not include the transfer of any rights to or in the names, logos, or other organizational markers protected by trademark, use, or under any law. While Massachusetts NOW exists as a legal entity, the Library will not authorize extensive quotation without the written permission of a designated Massachusetts NOW officer. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

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


11.25 linear feet ((27 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 photograph folder, 22 audiotapes, 1 object, electronic records)
3.26 Megabytes (12 files)

The Boston and Massachusetts Chapters of NOW have long shared a central office. Their overlapping functions and initiatives have resulted in many records of indeterminate origin. Intermingled records clearly originating from Boston NOW were pulled by the processor and transferred to the Boston NOW records; they will be cataloged at a later date. Massachusetts NOW newsletters were also removed and transferred to the Schlesinger Library periodicals collection. Consult the library's catalog for holdings. Electronic records were received in 19 5.25" disks. Disks were imaged using FTK imager. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery.

Series I, ORGANIZATION, 1970-2005 (#1.1-6.8, 26.12-27.13, T-381.1-T-381.4, E.1-E.6), contains records documenting the general organization of Massachusetts NOW, local chapters' activities, and the establishment of the Massachusetts NOW Foundation.

Subseries A, Massachusetts NOW, 1971-2005 (#1.1-4.7, 26.12-27.13, T-381.1-T-381.3, E.1-E.5), includes by-laws; fundraising; grievances; media; and materials on internships, leadership, and membership. Massachusetts NOW's website is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX). Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Chapter activities, 1970-2001 (#4.8-6.2, T-381.4, E.6), includes convening records, leadership lists, organizing manual for local chapters in Massachusetts, correspondence, clippings, flyers, and events sent from individual chapters to the Massachusetts NOW offices. The records retained from local chapters are sporadic and do not represent the bulk of their activities. Chapter newsletters were removed and added to the NOW chapter newsletter collection, Pr-1. Boston NOW records were removed and will be cataloged at a later date. Records of local chapters in Western Massachusetts are collected by the Sophia Smith Collection of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Folders in this series are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries C, Massachusetts NOW Foundation, 1999-2004 (#6.3-6.8), contains by-laws, grants, fundraiser documents, and incorporation records. Folders are arranged alphabetically, followed by "other" records.

Series II, STATE COUNCIL MEETINGS, 1975-2006 (#6.9-10.12, E.7), includes agendas, minutes, treasurer reports, legislative reports, flyers, and some executive committee minutes. The State Council, consisting of all Massachusetts NOW officers and appointed representatives from local chapters, "manages the affairs and control the funds and property of the organization, and may adopt necessary rules and regulation, all being subject to the instructions and decisions of the State Conference...". Folders are arranged chronologically, followed by "related Mass. NOW committees."

Series III, ANNUAL STATE CONFERENCES, 1973-2003 (#10.13-11.13, T-381.5-T-381.19, E.8), includes programs, flyers, annual member meeting minutes, and planning documents. Questionnaires completed by past presidents include information on past activities (#11.12). Folders are arranged chronologically.

Series IV, LEGISLATIVE, 1975-2006 (#11.14-21.12, E.9-E.12), contains records documenting the Legislative Committee, lobbying efforts, and coalitions in which Mass. NOW was an active participant.

Subseries A, Legislative Committee, 1978-2006 (#11.14-12.14, E.9-E.10), includes letters to members; meeting agendas and minutes; legislative agendas, updates, alerts, and priorities. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Lobbying, 1975-2006 (#13.1-18.8, E.11-E.12), includes testimonies; roll calls; handbooks; and legislation on civil rights (lesbian rights, civil marriage); economic equity (welfare, affirmative action, equal opportunities in the workplace); reproductive rights (abortion, clinic defense, contraceptives); violence against women (domestic abuse and sexual assault); and general issues of women's rights. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries C, Coalitions, 1989-2006 (#18.9-21.12), contains meeting minutes, brochures, informational handouts, and clippings documenting Massachusetts NOW's participation in local coalitions. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series V, ISSUES AND ACTIONS, 1970-2006 (#21.13-26.11, F+D.1, PD.1, T-381.20-T-381.22, E.13), includes activities and events related to civil rights (including lesbian rights, healthcare); economic equity (including welfare, affirmative action, equal opportunities in the workplace); reproductive rights (including abortion, clinic defense); violence against women (including domestic abuse and sexual assault); and general women's rights. Folders are arranged alphabetically, followed by "other issues and actions."

A few 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 [*].


The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States, and works to bring about equality for all women. The Massachusetts Chapter (Mass. NOW) was organized in early 1973 as a way to link and support the activities of all local chapters in the state. It mobilizes people to fight for women's rights and to end violence against women, lobbies the state legislature, advocates before government agencies, and organizes public demonstrations for a broad range of issues that reflect the diversity of women in Massachusetts. Mass. NOW also distributes educational materials, and supports "pro-women" political candidates.

Mass. NOW has helped to change Massachusetts laws regarding economic and workplace equality; reproductive rights; racial diversity in employment; equal civil rights regardless of sexual orientation; and violence against women. In 1999 the Massachusetts NOW Foundation was established to generate financial support primarily for the projects of local Massachusetts NOW chapters.

Previous Mass. NOW state presidents include: Pat Desmond (1973), Barbara Anthony (1974-1975), Madeline Miller and Ann Kendall (1976), Priscilla Leith (1977), Betsy Dunn (1978-1980), Terry Starr-Klein (1981-1982), Kay Doherty (1983-1984), Sharyn Sockol Styles (1985-1986), Jennifer Jackman (1987-1989), Helene Weitzenkorn (1990), Ellen Convisser, (1991-1994), Cheryl Garrity (1995-1999), Andrea Mullen (2000-2002), and Melissa Walsh and Nina Selvaggio (2003-?).


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Organization, 1970-2005 (#1.1-6.8, 26.12-27.13, T-381.1-T-381.4, E.1-E.6)
  2. Series II. State Council meetings, 1975-2006 (#6.9-10.12, E.7)
  3. Series III. Annual state conferences, 1973-2003 (#10.13-11.13, T-381.5-T-381.19, E.8)
  4. Series IV. Legislative, 1975-2006 (#11.14-21.12, E.9-E.12)
  5. Series V. Issues and actions, 1970-2006 (#21.13-26.11, F+D.1, PD.1, T-381.20-T-381.22, E.13)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 96-M49, 2001-M144, 2010-M150

The records of Massachusetts NOW were given by the board of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Massachusetts National Organization for Women Foundation between 1996 and 2010.


Donors: Massachusetts NOW

Accession numbers: 96-M49, 2001-M144, 2010-M150

Processed by: Jessica Tanny

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. Massachusetts NOW newsletters transferred to Schlesinger Library periodical collection.
  2. Two cartons of materials from Boston NOW transferred to Boston NOW Additional records (MC 632)
  3. Acton Area Chapter records transferred to the National Organization for Women Acton Area Chapter (Massachusetts), B/N277p.
  4. Local chapter newsletters transferred to PR-1.

Processing Information

Processed: November 2010

By: Jessica Tanny

Updated and additional materials added: July 2017

By: Pablo Morales Henry


Massachusetts NOW. Records of Massachusetts NOW, 1970-2006: 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 the Mary Mitchell Wood Manuscript Processing Fund.

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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