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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 632

Additional records of Boston N.O.W., 1970-2005


Additional records of the Boston Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) document members' activism for reproductive rights, economic equality, ending violence against women, etc.


  • 1970-2005

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted except #2.12, which is closed until January 1, 2022; #2.13, which is closed until January 1, 2053; and #21.8 which is closed until January 1, 2052.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Boston NOW is held by that organization is held by Boston NOW. 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.


8.75 linear feet ((21 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 3 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 20 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, electronic records)
.82 Megabytes (3 files)
These addenda to the records of Boston NOW (initially processed in June 2010) include meeting minutes and other materials documenting the activities of the executive board, standing committees, and task forces; reports; flyers, programs; photographs; clippings; etc. The archivist created the folder titles and arrangement. Records overlap and duplicate materials in an earlier collection of Boston N.O.W., 1967-1990 records (77-M13--96-M48). Electronic records were received in 2 3.5" disks. Disks were imaged using FTK imager. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery. Some files were corrupted and unrecoverable.

The Boston and Massachusetts Chapters of NOW have long shared a central office. The archivist pulled many of the Massachusetts NOW records; they were cataloged separately as MC 580. Additional records received from Mass. NOW in 2010 also contained Boston NOW records, which the archivist removed and integrated in November 2010. There is some overlap and duplications between the two collections. A master set of newsletters are filed in the master file drawer (MFD), and are closed to research; copies for research use are housed with Schlesinger Library periodicals. Consult the library's catalog for holdings.

Series I, ORGANIZATION AND POLICY, 1970-2005 (#1.1-3.8, 20.1-20.6, E.1-E.2), includes annual reports, by-laws, calendars, clippings, conferences, financial reports, history, leadership lists, membership mailings, and press releases. Folders are arranged alphabetically. The Boston NOW web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection Service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site will be available through this finding aid.

Series II, BOARD AND MEMBER MEETINGS, 1971-2005 (#3.9-10.17, 20.7-20.9, E.3-E.4), contains agendas, minutes, handouts, and committee reports for executive board and annual member meetings. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Series III, STANDING COMMITTEES, 1971-2002 (#11.1-13.13), contains records of the Legislative/Political Action Committee (PAC), Media, and Newsletter committees. Newsletters were pulled and will be cataloged separately. Folders are arranged alphabetically by committee name.

Series IV, TASK FORCES, 1972-2005 (#13.14-17.5, 20.10-21.7), includes the records of the Civil Rights, Economic Equity (formerly Equal Economic Opportunity), Lesbian Rights, Reproductive Rights, Violence Against Women, and Young Feminist task forces. Folders are arranged alphabetically by task force name, followed by "other task forces."

Series V, DEMONSTRATIONS AND EVENTS, 1972-2002 (#17.6-19.13, 21.8-21.12), contains flyers, agendas, and clippings about the activities and events furthering the goals of Boston NOW to bring about equality for all women through change in public opinion, discourse, and legislation. Events in this series were not sponsored by a specific task force, and include Women's Equality Day, the Feminist Majority's Feminization of Power campaign, National Mobilization for Women's Lives, and the Women at Work demonstration. Folders are arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by topic, and end with "more activism," and print-outs of digital images of oversized materials.

Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS AND OVERSIZED, 1981-2001 (#PD.1-PD.21, F+D.1, OD.1-OD.3, SD.1), contains photographs and oversized materials.

Subseries A, Photographs, 1984-2001 (#PD.1-PD.21), includes photographs documenting the activities of Boston NOW members. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Subseries B, Oversized, 1981-2000 (#F+D.1, OD.1-OD.3, SD.1), includes posters, calendars, proclamation, and protest signs. Print-outs of oversized items that were digitally photographed are in #19.13. Originals and digital files were not retained. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Some 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 [*].


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. Boston NOW is one of hundreds of chapters throughout the U.S. Although during its earliest period of formation in late 1969 the chapter was called "Boston NOW," it soon became the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter; it held its first full membership meeting on March 16, 1970. It was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in December 1970, holding its first board of directors meeting on December 28. The Eastern Massachusetts Chapter at first included five other units--Concord, Framingham, Marlboro, North Shore, and South Shore--which split off in 1974, with only Boston NOW remaining. From 1974 to 1993, the Chapter was known as "Boston NOW," but in 1993 it began to use the name "Greater Boston NOW" to more accurately reflect their membership and activities in the wider metropolitan area. Although members use the two names interchangeably, the official name remains "Boston NOW."

Boston NOW has worked "to ensure equality for women in all areas of life." Early task forces addressed issues of women as portrayed in media, women in education, employment equality, legislative concerns, day care, and organized religion. By the mid-1990s, the organization focused mainly on reproductive rights, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) civil rights, economic rights, ending violence against women, and racial justice.

The members of Boston NOW have played a key role in shaping public discourse and policy in Massachusetts through political and legislative activities. They work to educate the public through rallies, forums, workshops, and demonstrations. Boston NOW brings a feminist voice and vision to a wide variety of issues addressing the economic, political, social, and personal dynamics that affect women's everyday lives.

Previous Boston NOW presidents include: Roberta Benjamin (1969-1971), Patricia Caplan (1972), Julia Wan (1972), Marilyn Freifeld (1973), Carol Cote (1974), Glenda Cecil (1975), Robin Taylor (1976), Elaine Giddis (1977), Maryann Murphy (1979), Beth Broderson (1980), Cynthia Medeiros (1981-1982), Janet Ferone (1983-1984), Jennifer Jackman (1985-1986), Ellen Convisser (1987-1989), Ellen Zucker (1990-1994), Toni Troop (1995-1999), Andrea Lee (1999-2002), and co-presidents Patricia Schroeder and Marni Schultz (2003- ).


The collection is arranged in six series:
  1. Series I. Organization and policy, 1970-2005 (#1.1-3.8, 20.1-20.6, E.1-E.2)
  2. Series II. Board and member meetings, 1971-2005 (#3.9-10.17, 20.7-20.9, E.3-E.4)
  3. Series III. Standing committees, 1971-2002 (#11.1-13.13)
  4. Series IV. Task forces, 1972-2005 (#13.14-17.5, 20.10-21.7)
  5. Series V. Demonstrations and events, 1972-2002 (#17.6-19.13, 21.8-21.12)
  6. Series VI. Photographs and oversized, 1981-2001 (#PD.1-PD.21, F+D.1, OD.1-OD.3, SD.1)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 97-M129, 97-M159, 98-M180, 2004-M17, 2010-M150, 2011-M78

These addenda to the records of Boston N.O.W. were given to the Schlesinger Library between 1997 and 2011.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Records of Boston N.O.W., 1967-1990 (77-M13--96-M48)

Accession numbers: 97-M129--2004-M17

Processed by: Jessica Tanny

The following items have been removed from the collection and will be processed separately:
  1. Two cartons of materials from Massachusetts NOW
  2. Two cartons of materials from National Organization for Women
  3. Two sets of newsletters

Processing Information

Processed: November 2010

By: Jessica Tanny

Updated and additional materials added: July 2017

By: Pablo Morales Henry
Link to catalog
Boston N.O.W. Additional records of Boston N.O.W., 1970-2005: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1968.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

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