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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 780: T-496: Vt-267

Papers of Jane O'Reilly, 1965-1993


Papers of Jane O'Reilly consist of writings, correspondence, clippings, printed materials, audiotapes, and videotapes related to her work as a journalist, writer, and social critic.


  • Creation: 1965-1993

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

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

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Jane O'Reilly is held by Jane O'Reilly during her lifetime. Upon her death, copyright transfers and is assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College along with all right, title, and interest, including copyright and all extensions and renewals thereof, in and to the work. 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. However, material may not be made available for use on the World Wide Web during Jane O'Reilly's lifetime.


9.59 linear feet ((23 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 2 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 1 photograph folder, 34 audiotapes, 4 videotapes)

This collection contains papers relating to Jane O'Reilly's professional work as a journalist and writer. The collection contains extensive research materials, such as clippings, reports, and printed materials from both conservative and liberal organizations, as well as copies of her column for The Washington Star, and drafts of other writings. The papers were in some order when received and have been further arranged by the archivist. Original folder titles have been maintained and any titles created by the archivist appear in brackets.

Series I, RESEARCH AND WRITINGS, 1965-1993 (#1.1-17.6), contains O'Reilly's working files related to her occupation as a journalist and writer. She researched and wrote about the political, social and cultural issues which occupied both conservative and liberal agendas. Most of her writings covered timely matters affecting women's lives, including the fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), reproductive rights, as well as topics such as women's participation in the 1984 Olympics (#16.16). Included in the files are a range of research and supporting materials, such as press releases, direct mail letters and other correspondence from organizations, printed materials from both conservative and liberal groups, clippings, and reports. Some files include drafts of articles, many of which were written for Time magazine. This series also contains files relating to O'Reilly's attendance as a journalist at the United Nations Decade for Women conference in Nairobi, Kenya, where she reported for Time and other magazines (#2.4.-5.13); interview transcripts with Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey for their book No Turning Back: Two Nuns Battle with the Vatican over Women's Right to Choose; and transcripts or notes for speeches given at a variety of meetings and conferences, including a Planned Parenthood spring workshop (1981) (#13.15) and the Association for Women Geoscientists annual meeting (1982) (#14.2). One file containing a letter from theater director Anselma Dell'Olio regarding the New Feminist Repertory; as well as photocopies of articles regarding Dell'Olio and her work was originally processed as collection #A/O66 and has now been added to file #5.14. The series is arranged alphabetically; certain groups of records, such as conferences and speeches, are arranged chronologically within.

Series II, THE WASHINGTON STAR COLUMN, 1972-1980 (#17.7-23.20, PD.1), contains research files for O'Reilly's syndicated opinion column in The Washington Star, which also appeared in the Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune, among other papers. The column provided O'Reilly with a forum for her progressive social commentary on public policy, legislation, and public figures, and as with her other writings, she tackled a range of topics which affected women's lives, including the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), abortion, child care, and the feminist movement in general. Files contain drafts of articles, final versions, printed materials, clippings, and correspondence. In general, folder titles were created by O'Reilly and often consist of an abbreviated or modified version of the published title. The series is arranged chronologically by the column's date of publication.

Series III, AUDIOVISUAL, 1980-1982, n.d. (#T-496.1 - T-496.34, Vt-267.1 - Vt-267.4), includes audio cassette tapes and videotapes which document the conservative political movement in the 1980s. Included are political proceedings; conference panels and presentations, including the American Family Forum conference in the early 1980s; and speeches by and interviews with conservative figures, including Phyllis Schlafly, Paul Weyrich, and other strategists and activists. Of note is O'Reilly's interview with Phyllis Schlafly for her Time magazine cover article on women (#T-496.30). The series is arranged by format, then alphabetically.

Series IV, MEMORABILIA AND OVERSIZE, 1975-1983, n.d. (#23.21m-23.23m, F+D.1, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1), includes conservative memorabilia collected by O'Reilly, including pro-life and anti-ERA bumper stickers, an anti-ERA button, and a placard possibly used for a pro-life demonstration (#23.23m). Also included are oversize materials removed from Series I and II. The series is arranged by format, then alphabetically.

One photograph in this collection is or will be digitized and available online.


Jane O'Reilly was born on April 5, 1936, in St. Louis, Missouri. She attended Convent of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls Catholic school. In 1954, she left Missouri to attend Radcliffe College, graduating with a BA in History in 1958. That same year, she hid an unplanned pregnancy, and gave birth to a daughter soon after her final exams. Although she gave the child up for adoption, they reunited 32 years later. One son, Jan Fischer, was born in 1964.

Jane O'Reilly published her first article in 1960 in The New Republic. Since then she has written on a wide range of subjects, including family issues, the women's movement, media, money, and politics for national magazines. Many of her writings focus on conservative and liberal issues as they relate to culture, society, and politics.

In 1972, following a second divorce, O'Reilly moved to New York to work as a freelance writer. That year she met Gloria Steinem and they, along with others, co-founded Ms. magazine. O'Reilly's essay Click! The Housewife's Moment of Truth, was the cover story for the first issue. O'Reilly went on to write articles for Ms. and for other magazines and newspapers, including Time magazine, The New York Times, New York magazine, Glamour, McCall's, Atlantic Monthly, and Vogue. O'Reilly was a contributing editor to New York magazine and reviewed books for The New York Times Book Review and Viva magazine. In 1975, she moved to Washington, DC, to write about women in Washington for a United Features syndicated column in The Washington Star.

In 1971, O'Reilly received the J.C. Penney-Missouri Magazine Award for The Paralyzed Generation, an article about suburban teenagers.

In addition to her articles, Jane O'Reilly wrote two books. In 1980 she published a mostly autobiographical work, The Girl I Left Behind: The Housewife's Moment of Truth and Other Feminist Ravings. This collection of writings looks back at her experiences in the feminist movement in the 1970s and explores the social, economic, and political boundaries facing American women. In 1990, she co-wrote No Turning Back: Two Nuns Battle with the Vatican over Women's Right to Choose with Sister Barbara Ferraro and Sister Patricia Hussey. Ferraro's and Hussey's story explores their personal struggles with the Roman Catholic Church, women's role in religion, and the place of the church in modern life.

In 1992, Jane O'Reilly and several other women created the newspaper, Getting It Gazette, which was distributed at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The publication provided information about female candidates and women's issues. The authors insisted that politicians should not consider women a special interest group or afterthought.

After decades of activism in New York, O'Reilly left a career in writing to run for public office. She moved to Vermont in 1994 and served on local governmental committees, such as the library board and the planning commission. She eventually settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Research and writings, 1965-1993 (#1.1-17.6)
  2. Series II. The Washington Star column, 1972-1980 (#17.7-23.20, PD.1)
  3. Series III. Audiovisual, 1980-1983, n.d. (#T-496.1 - T-496.34, Vt-267.1 - Vt-267.4)
  4. Series IV. Memorabilia and oversize, 1975-1985, n.d. (#23.21m-23.23m, F+D.1, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: A/O66, 93-M133, 94-M104, 2012-M192

The papers of Jane O'Reilly were given to the Schlesinger Library by Jane O'Reilly between 1982 and 2012.


Donor: Jane O'Reilly

Accession numbers: 93-M133, 94-M104, 2012-M192

Processed by: Laura Peimer

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

  1. A Pro-Life Report on Population Growth and The American Future by Randy Engel, 1972
  2. ActionLine: Christian Action Council Newsletter (June 14, 1979)
  3. Association for Women Geoscientists Denver Chapter Newsletter (October 1982)
  4. Commonwoman: Vermont Women's Publication (June-July 1981; February 1982; April 1982; May-June 1982; June-July 1982)
  5. Day Care and the Working Poor: The Struggle for Self-Sufficiency, 1982
  6. Decade for Women Information Resources for 1985 (#1 and #3)
  7. Distaff: News Forum for Southern Women (December 1974)
  8. Eagle Forum: Leading the Pro-Family Movement since 1972
  9. Equal Access: Newsletter for Women in Public Telecommunications (July/August 1979)
  10. Feminist Party News (June 1972)
  11. Foundation for Life. Life Advocate Vol. 2, No. 7 (August 1978)
  12. From Bigotry to Butchery: A Review of Planned Parenthood (summer 1979)
  13. Handbook on Abortion, 1979
  14. Inequality of Sacrifice: The Impact of the Reagan Budget on Women (May 6, 1982)
  15. Insider's Newsletter (October 3, 1966)
  16. Journal of Home Economics (May 1977)
  17. LifeLetter 1979 #8 1981 #1-2, #5, #10-11, #13-16 1982 #1-6, #9-16 1983 #1-5, #7-9 1984 #7, #10
  18. Manhattan Women's Political Caucus (vol. 1 #3)
  19. March for Life Program Journal (January 22, 1981)
  20. Marriage
  21. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. MCCL Newsletter May/June 1979
  22. National Abortion Rights Action League Newsletter (July 1978, April & December 1979))
  23. National Pro-Life Political Action Committee. Pro Life Political Reporter Vol. 1, No. 3 (June 1979) Vol. 4, No. 1 (January 1982) Vol. 5, No. 2 (June 1983)
  24. National Right to Life Committee. National Right to Life News Vol. 6, Nos. 9-11 Vol. 7, No. 1, Nos. 3-15, Nos. 17-19 Vol. 8, Nos. 1-5, No. 11, Nos. 15-24 Vol. 9, Nos. 1-11, 13-24 Vol. 10, Nos. 1-4, Nos. 6-9
  25. National Women's Political Caucus Republican Women's Task Force (September/October 1978)
  26. Neighborhood Women Network News (vol. 3, #1)
  27. New Directions for Women (Vol. 11, #2)
  28. New Women's Times (vol. VII, #5)
  29. Ohio Women's Report (April 1981)
  30. Old Mole: A Radical Bi-Weekly (#25)
  31. Planned Parenthood Review (vol. 2, #1, Spring 1982; vol. 2, #4, Winter 1982)
  32. Population Bulletin: Boys or Girls? Parents' Preferences and Sex Control (January 1978)
  33. Press for Equality (September 1980)
  34. Probe: National Assembly of Women Religious (various issues: 1975-1980)
  35. Reason: The Future of Sex and Marriage (December 1971)
  36. Sisterlife (Fall 1979, March 1980)
  37. The Nation (vol. 244, #4)
  38. The Realist (Nov-Dec 1969)
  39. The Phyllis Schlafly Report (September 1985)
  40. Safe and Legal: 10 Years' Experience with Legal Abortion in New York State, 1980
  41. Margaret Sanger: Father of Modern Society by Elasah Drogin, 1980
  42. Sex and Love
  43. Sex Education in the Classroom? by Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Willke
  44. Sexual Freedom: Journal of the San Francisco Sexual Freedom League
  45. The Single Parent (January/February 1976)
  46. Straight Talk: A Response to the Administration's "Talking Points on Issues of Interest to Women" (August 1984)
  47. Unicef News, issue 122, 1985
  48. Vocations for Social Change (May-June 1969)
  49. WOMENews (vol. 4, #2)
  50. Women's International Network News (1976)
  51. The Women's Lib: Equal Rights Amendment Attacks...
  52. Women's Political Times: Publication of the National Women's Political Caucus (April 1982)

The following periodicals have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library's Pro-life newsletter and periodical collection, 1977-2009 (Pr-16):

  1. Indiana Right to Life. The Communicator [1977?] Vol. 4, No. 6 (June 1979)
  2. Life-PAC. Life-PAC Report Vol. 2, No. 1 (June 1979)
  3. Loyola Marymount University Right to Life. On Life: A Journal Fall 1978
  4. Maryland Right to Life. Life Report February 1979; June 1979
  5. New Jersey Right to Life Committee. New Jersey Right to Life News Fall 1980; Winter 1980-1981
  6. WCCL Education Fund (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Life Cycle April 1978 April 1979

Processing Information

Processed: April 2014

By: Laura Peimer, with assistance of Emily Underwood.

O'Reilly, Jane. Papers of Jane O'Reilly, 1965-1993: 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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