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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 420: T-249

Work and family : low income and minority women talk about their lives, ca.1930-1990


Audiocassettes, transcripts, field notes, etc., generated by Fran Leeper Buss as part of her oral history project, Work and Family: Low Income and Minority Women Talk about Their Lives.


  • Creation: 1930-1990


Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Readers must sign a special form agreeing to preserve the privacy of the interviewees. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library.

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


4.17 linear feet ((9 file boxes, 2 half file boxes) plus 323 audiotapes)

The collection consists of audiocassettes and transcripts of 56 oral histories conducted by Fran Leeper Buss with low-income and minority women of all ages from various geographic areas and racial/ethnic groups.

The interviews focus on the experience of being poor and female, on employment, and on family life, with particular attention paid to the issue of domestic violence. Also included are field notes, photographs, and other supplementary material. Transcripts and supplementary material are photocopies. At the end of each transcript, there is an index of topics discussed in the interviews. The racial categorizations of the interviewees are copied from Buss' descriptions in her field notes.

As part of a collaborative project of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women and the Schlesinger Library, this collection of interviews by Buss was transcribed, indexed, duplicated, and processed with funds from the Ford Foundation. Copies of the interview transcripts only were deposited at the New Mexico State University Library, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the University of Arizona Library, the General Library at the University of California, Davis, the Walter Royal Davis Library at the University of North Carolina, and the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.


A minister with United Campus Christian Ministry and a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Arizona, Fran Leeper Buss has been a community organizer since the late 1960s, when she herself was struggling to survive as an ill, divorced mother of three, dependent on welfare for support. Buss founded and directed the Women's Crisis and Information Center in Fort Collins, Col. (1971-1973), worked in community outreach in Denver and Las Vegas, and taught at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, and the University of Arizona.

She is the author of four books. La Partera: Story of a Midwife (1980) and Dignity: Lower Income Women Tell of Their Lives and Struggles (1985) draw on these interviews Buss conducted over a number of years; she has also published Journey of the Sparrows (1991) and Forged under the Sun: The Life of Maria Elena Lucas (1993). Her photograph exhibit, "Stepping from the Shadows: Portraits of Poor and Working-Class Women," was shown in various locations, 1985-1989.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 92-M3

The oral history collection, Work and Family: Low Income and Minority Women Talk about Their Lives, was given to the Schlesinger Library by Fran Leeper Buss and the Southwest Institute for Research on Women with the assistance of the Ford Foundation.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Fran Leeper Buss Papers, 1968-2012 (MC 788).

Processing Information

Processed: May 1993

By: Anne Engelhart

Updated: December 2018

By Ayoola White

Genre / Form



Buss, Fran Leeper, 1942- . Work and family: low income and minority women talk about their lives, ca.1930-1990: 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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