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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 548: T-301

Records of the Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project, 1961-2001 (inclusive), 1990-1993 (bulk)


A collection of interviews conducted by and with past officers and members of the National Organization for Women (NOW) regarding the formation of NOW and their roles in the organization. All participants in the project were active in NOW during the late 1960s and 1970s.


  • 1961-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1990-1993

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

In January 2019 and May 2021, the finding aid was updated and some transcripts and audiotapes previously closed were opened.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library, with the exception of interviews with Ti-Grace Atkinson, Lucy Komisar, Kate Millett, who retained copyright. 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.


5.21 linear feet ((12+1/2 file boxes) plus 2 photograph folders, 152 audiocassettes)

The collection includes audiotapes and transcripts of interviews with forty-four activists in the National Organization for Women, biographical information, and photographs. Also included are transcripts of a September 12, 1991, roundtable discussion among five early members of NOW concerning a major split in the organization in 1975; transcript of a workshop (NOW national meeting, January 10, 1992) on the origins of NOW; transcript of discussion on the founding of NOW LDEF (Armonk, New York, July 19, 1992); and transcripts of toasts from Betty Friedan's 75th birthday party in 1996.

An advisory committee for the project was formed in late 1989 to suggest topics to pursue, set priorities as to whom would be interviewed, and help identify possible interviewers. The pool of potential interviewees was those women and men who were actively involved with either Betty Friedan or NOW during the designated years; selection was based on the significance of their contributions, the duration of their involvement, and the uniqueness of their roles. The potential interviewees were sent project surveys asking if they would like to participate in the project; what office in NOW or NOW LDEF they had held; what NOW issues, policies, and events they would like to cover; and who they would like to interview them. The interviewers were given a list of suggested topics, grouped in three areas: personal information, motivation, and contribution to the women's movement; the history of NOW, concentrating on 1966-1977; and the role of Betty Friedan in the women's movement. The interviews were held at people's homes, and occasionally, at restaurants. Most of the women and men were interviewed individually, but in a few cases, with their partners.

The audiotapes were transcribed by Schlesinger Library staff, and the transcripts were sent to both the interviewee and interviewer for editing. From the beginning of the project through 1994 the transcripts were sent back to the interviewee for a second round of edits. When these edited copies were returned to the Library, "archive copies" (e.g., clean, camera-ready copies) with an index were produced. Some edited copies were not returned to the library; these transcripts, with the original edits, are available. Two interviews, with Karen DeCrow and Wilma Scott Heide, were conducted in 1980 and 1981, and were included with this project at the request of Mary Jean Tully.

Series I, AUDIOTAPES AND TRANSCRIPTS, 1980-2000 (#1.1-12.1, 13.8-13.9, T-301.1-T-301.8, T-301.15-T-301.53, T-301.56-T-301.84, T-301.88-T-301.102, T-301.104-T-301.115, T-301.118-T-301.126, T-301.130-T-301.152), contains audiotapes and transcripts. Materials are arranged alphabetically.

Series II, AUDIOTAPES AND TRANSCRIPTS OF INDEPENDENT INTERVIEWS, 1991-2000 (#12.2-12.8, T-301.9-T-301.14, T-301.54-T-301.55, T-301.85-T-301.87, T-301.103, T-301.116-T-301.117, T-301.127-T-301.129), contains independent interviews conducted by Jacqueline Michot Ceballos during the project. They are arranged alphabetically.

Series III, ADMINISTRATION AND GENERAL, 1961-2001 (#12.9-13.7), contains biographical data sheets sent to the participants of the project; articles about NOW and its members; resumes; obituaries; and a few project surveys that asked what topics the participants would like to cover. It is arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1960-1993 (#PD.1-PD.2), contains photographs of some of the interviewees. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


The Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project was initiated and funded in 1990 by Mary Jean Tully in honor of her mother, Maude Gresham Crenshaw, in conjunction with the Schlesinger Library. Its goal was to document the founding and development of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, as well as the role of Betty Friedan in NOW, and Friedan's legacy in the women's movement. Each interview highlights the issues, policies, decisions, events, and participants in NOW's history from its founding in 1966 to the International Women's Year Conference in Houston, Texas, in 1977, and beyond to NOW's role in the lives of future generations of women.

In her own interview, when asked her reasons for creating this project, Tully responded: "It starts with the fact that I was always bothered, when we were doing the women's movement, by the fact that almost nothing was being written down...Most of the really important stuff was going on on the telephone...Three or four years ago, I was reading a biography of Mary Shelley, and I was so dazzled by the fact that the author could say, 'On Saturday, March 14th, Mary spent the morning at home, because the weather was very nice. In the afternoon, she was invited to a party...this is what she wore, and this is what they served, and so on.' I found it absolutely dazzling, and I thought to myself, once more, 'Nobody has this kind of information about Betty Friedan.'"


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Audiotapes and Transcripts, 1980-2000 (#1.1-12.1, 13.8-13.9, T-301.1-T-301.8, T-301.15-T-301.53, T-301.56-T-301.84, T-301.88-T-301.102, T-301.104-T-301.115, T-301.118-T-301.126, T-301.130-T-301.152)
  2. Series II. Audiotapes and Transcripts of Independent Interviews, 1991-2000 (#12.2-12.8, T-301.9-T-301.14, T-301.54-T-301.55, T-301.85-T-301.87, T-301.103, T-301.116-T-301.117, T-301.127-T-301.129)
  3. Series III. Administration and General, 1961-2001 (#12.9-13.7)
  4. Series IV. Photographs, 1960-1993 (#PD.1-PD.2)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2001-M81, 2001-M125, 2001-M165, 2001-M180

The records of the Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project became part of the Schlesinger Library's holdings following completion of the project in 2001.


Donors: Tully, Mary Jean

Accession number: 2001-M81, 2001-M125, 2001-M165, 2001-M180

Processed by: Cat Lea Holbrook

The following items duplicated holdings in the Library and have been removed from the collection:

  1. The New Broadside, November 1970.
  2. The NOW York Times, August 27, 1970 and August 26, 1981.

Processing Information

Processed: October 2007

By: Cat Lea Holbrook

Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project. Records of the Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project, 1961-2001 (inclusive), 1990-1993 (bulk): 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 Radcliffe College Class of 1956.

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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