Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MC 558: PhotoCD-4: CD-26: T-290: Vt-151

Papers of Bernice Resnick Sandler, 1963-2008


Correspondence, writings, testimonies, speeches, subject files, photographs, and audiovisual material of Bernice Resnick Sandler, feminist and activist specializing in educational equity for women, gender issues in higher education, and other issues of women's rights and equality.


  • Creation: 1963-2008

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Most of the Bernice Resnick Sandler Papers are open for research with some restrictions: #2.1 is closed until 2040; #2.2 and 26.8 are closed until 2020; #2.3, 2.5, 2.7 are closed until 2030; #11.11, 26.8, 26.10, 26.13 and 26.14 are closed until 2050; #36.9 is closed until 2057.

In 2019, several folders that had been closed until Sandler's death (#8.1, 27.5, 27.7) were opened to research.

Some folders containing records of the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) are restricted under the terms of the WEAL/Schlesinger Library agreement for the WEAL Records (MC 311, MC 500) held by the Schlesinger Library.

In 2014, some folders in Series V, Subseries E, containing records of the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) relating to WEAL's Action Committee for Federal Contract Compliance on Education, which had previously been restricted under the terms of the WEAL/Schlesinger Library agreement for the WEAL Records, were opened. Folders or documents which relate to discrimination complaints brought by individuals still living continue to be closed until the individual's death.

Appointment required for access to audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Bernice Resnick Sandler will be transferred to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library after her death. During Sandler's lifetime, quotations from the papers of more than 250 words in any one publication require Sandler's prior written permission; quotations of less than 250 words may be published with the written permission of the director of the Schlesinger Library. 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.


28.98 linear feet ((69 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 2 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 2 supersize folders, 2 audiotapes, 16 videotapes, 1 CD, 5 photograph folders, 1 photograph CD, 29 objects, and electronic records)

The papers of Bernice Resnick Sandler include correspondence; meeting agendas, notes and minutes; government testimonies; speeches and workshop material; appointment books; articles; research files, with clippings; photographs; and audiovisual material.

Most of the collection arrived at the Library in folders with titles, which appear below in the inventory; titles provided by the archivist are in square brackets. Most printed material was transferred to the Schlesinger Library's book division.

Sandler's papers generally contain material from before 1971 and from after 1991. Much of Sandler's work between 1971 and 1991, including her work with the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE), is documented in the PSEW Records (MC 557). Some papers now in this collection were originally with the PSEW Records; some NCWGE material from the PSEW Records was marked "BS personal" but was determined to fall more within the scope of those records.

Most 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 [*].

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1963-2008 (#1.1-8.4, CD-26.1, PD.1, PD.4, PhotoCD-4.1, E.1), contains Sandler's resumes, awards, appointment books, some correspondence, publicity, etc.

Subseries A, Biographical, 1967-2008 (#1.1-2.11, CD-26.1, PD.1, E.1), includes resumes, clippings about Sandler, applications for awards, letters of recommendation for others, and photographs. A folder (#1.7) details Sandler's enthusiasm for collecting women's political buttons, another (#1.13) includes her account of a 1979 trip to China. Also included is an unedited transcript and a recording of a 2004 oral history interview about Sandler's involvement in passing Title IX (#2.11). The subseries is arranged chronologically. Sandler's 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 in 2010.

Subseries B, Awards, 1971-2007 (#2.12-3.12, PD.4, PhotoCD-4.1), contains correspondence and information about awards and honorary degrees given to Sandler. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Appointment books, 1965-2000 (#3.13-7.5), contains Sandler's appointment books, documenting her meetings, trips, and other events. From 1972 to 1990, Sandler used an appointment book system called "Pocket Day-Timer," in which each month had its own spiral-bound book. There are two books for some years; books are arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Correspondence, 1963-2007 (#7.6-8.4), contains Sandler's personal and miscellaneous correspondence. It is difficult to separate the "personal" from the "political" in many of Sandler's relationships. However, while much of this personal correspondence is about the women's liberation movement and other political topics, it was kept separately by Sandler, sometimes by correspondent. For example, much of the 1970-1971 correspondence found here is about legislation for women's rights, but it did not come foldered together with WEAL material, as did other correspondence from those years (see Series V). Most folders contain only incoming mail; the Hartry and Murray folders also include copies of Sandler's outgoing correspondence. "Nasty letters" (#7.6) contains Sandler's letters of complaint to companies. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series II, WRITINGS AND TESTIMONIES, 1969-1999 (#8.5-11.11), includes notes for, drafts, and completed examples of Sandler's published writing, speeches, and congressional testimonies.

Subseries A, Writings, 1969-1999 (#8.5-10.6), includes Sandler's dissertation, articles, speeches, and book chapters. Articles which are only represented by reprints are grouped together in a general folder; other folders may include drafts, notes, and correspondence with publishers. Writings for which Sandler was paid, namely consultant's reports, can be found in Series IV, Subseries C. Some folders in Series III may also have speeches included; if so, the speech title is listed. For other writings by Sandler, particularly speeches, see the PSEW Records (MC 557). This subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Testimonies, 1970-1992 (#10.7-11.11), contains testimonies given before government committees. Folders may include drafts, published testimonies, and/or notes. Folder #11.11 includes a deposition Sandler gave while acting as an expert witness in a sexual harassment lawsuit; the folder is restricted until 2050. Sandler's correspondence and other notes about her work as an expert witness can be found in Series IV, Subseries C. This subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series III, SPEECHES, MEETINGS, CONFERENCES, AND WORKSHOPS, 1970-2008 (#11.12-24.19), contains Sandler's files on her numerous appearances. The majority of the events include Sandler as a speaker or facilitator. Most of Sandler's speeches and meetings from September 1971 to June 1991 are in the PSEW Records (MC 557); listings in this series from those years are appearances of a more personal nature or are large conferences she attended as a delegate. Documentation of Sandler's visits to colleges includes speeches, workshops, trainings on sexual harassment, etc. The main topics she covered during her appearances in the 1990s were the "chilly climate," rape, and sexual harassment; her 1992 campus talks often referenced the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. Folders may include correspondence, travel arrangements, contracts for service, and Sandler's notes on topics or workshops. Some folders include campus-specific reports (e.g., on sexual harassment, gender parity), flyers for programs, conference papers and programs, etc. If a speech is included in the folder, its title is listed. The date listed is of the occasion; dates of items in folder may vary by several months. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series IV, EMPLOYMENT, 1970-2008 (#24.20-36.9), contains files relating to Sandler's paid employment. Most of Sandler's appearances listed in Series III were also paid; some also included specific consulting work. While Sandler was not actually a paid employee of CWPS, NAWE or WREI, work she did while affiliated with those organizations is included here. Some of her work for those organizations was paid by grants she applied for, some was on a more contractual basis (editing About Women on Campus). The PSEW files in Subseries D generally pertain to Sandler's hiring and firing by the AAC; the PSEW Records (MC 557) are also held by the Schlesinger Library. NAWE records are held by Bowling Green State University.

Subseries A, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, Special Subcommittee on Education, 1970-1971 (#24.20-24.26), contains folders relating to Sandler's employment as an Education Specialist for the Special Subcommittee on Education of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor from June 1970 to February 1971. Sandler testified in June 1970 at Representative Edith Green's hearings, under the Special Subcommittee on Education, on sex discrimination in education; Green then hired her to compile and publish the complete testimony. The hearings were called to address a bill outlawing sex discrimination in education that Green was backing, which would eventually come to be what is now known as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This subseries also contains memos Sandler wrote to Representative Green on a variety of topics, including women's educational equity and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Women's Action Program, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1971-1972 (#25.1-25.9), contains material from Sandler's position as Deputy Director of the Women's Action Program at HEW from February to August 1971. Folders contain meeting notes, correspondence, memoranda, data, and reports on women's issues from this early government women's program. Of particular note is material on Chicana women (#25.1). The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Consultant, expert witness, and miscellaneous, 1971-2007 (#25.10-27.2), contains files pertaining to Sandler's periodic work as a paid consultant and expert. Some consultant work can also be found throughout Series III. Some correspondence about unpaid phone consultations and other paid consultant work (including Sandler's work for the Citadel in 1997) can be found throughout the chronological correspondence files in Subseries E, F, and G. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Project on the Education and Status of Women (PSEW), Association of American Colleges (AAC), 1971-1992 (#27.3-27.11), contains files relating to Sandler's work as Executive Associate and Director of PSEW from September 1971 to June 1991. This subseries primarily contains material relating to the AAC's 1990 decision to restructure PSEW with different staff, in effect firing Sandler. AAC members were notified of this decision in June 1990 and the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote an article about the changes in December 1990. Sandler herself wrote a letter about it to friends and colleagues in January 1991; their responses are included in #27.8 and 27.9. Sandler initiated a lawsuit against AAC over her separation payment. After leaving her position in June 1991, Sandler continued to work with AAC on a workshop guide on "chilly climate" issues, which had been previously funded by the Lilly Foundation, until the end of 1991. The subseries is arranged chronologically. The PSEW Records (MC 557), primarily consisting of files created by Sandler, are also held by the Schlesinger Library.

Subseries E, Center for Women Policy Studies (CWPS), 1991-1997 (#27.12-30.14), contains correspondence, grant proposals, and other material pertaining to Sandler's affiliation, as a Senior Associate, with the Center for Women Policy Studies from July 1991 to August 1994. CWPS provided office space, letterhead, etc. Incoming correspondence and phone logs show Sandler's day-to-day contacts and activities. "Golden letters" (#28.5) includes correspondence praising Sandler's appearances or writings. Other folders include material on grant ideas and proposals. When leaving PSEW, Sandler was engaged to edit a newsletter (On Campus With Women) as a joint project for CWPS and National Association for Women in Education (NAWE). CWPS's participation in the newsletter was short-lived; all On Campus With Women files are in Subseries F. Sandler and CWPS received grants from the Lilly Endowment and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to develop a guidebook for educators on the "chilly classroom climate" for women. The FIPSE proposal is in this subseries, but the project was completed under the auspices of NAWE, and all files relating to its completion are in Subseries F. Sandler left CWPS in 1994 in part due to a disagreement as to her payment for her educational materials sold under CWPS auspices. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries F, National Association for Women in Education (NAWE), 1991-2000 (#30.15-36.2), contains correspondence, grant proposals, and other materials from Sandler's tenure as Senior Scholar in Residence (1994-2000) and Editor of About Women on Campus (1991-1999) at the National Association for Women in Education. While at NAWE, Sandler worked on a Lilly Endowment/FIPSE grant (begun while at CWPS) to develop The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women, co-authored with Roberta M. Hall and Lisa A. Silverberg, and published in 1996. Outgoing correspondence files are chronological; some have incoming correspondence attached. Loose incoming correspondence was filed separately. Correspondence from 1997 includes several e-mails relating to Sandler's work with the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, to develop sexual harassment trainng and a co-education plan. A folder of Sandler's earlier work on a similar topic with the Virgina Military Institute is also included (#35.6). For notes, drafts, and Sandler's essay about the passage of Title IX on its 25th anniversary, see #35.14 and #35.15. NAWE dissolved in 2000. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries G, Women's Research and Education Institute (WREI), 2000-2008 (#36.3-36.9), contains correspondence, phone logs, memos, etc., from Sandler's affiliation as a Senior Scholar with the Women's Research and Education Institute, beginning in the summer of 2000. Most files relate to projects Sandler was involved with or was considering taking on. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series V, WOMEN'S EQUITY ACTION LEAGUE (WEAL) AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, 1967-2006 (#36.10-64.9), contains correspondence; meeting agendas, minutes, and notes; printed material; etc., relating to Sandler's involvement with WEAL and other organizations that she belonged to, worked with, and/or served as a board member or advisor. WEAL was a national membership organization founded in 1968 and dedicated to improving the status and lives of all women primarily through education, litigation, and legislation. Sandler joined WEAL in 1969. Beginning in January 1970, she filed numerous administrative complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC), on behalf of WEAL, under Executive Order 11246, charging sex discrimination in university systems nationwide. Some files in this series are restricted under the terms of the WEAL/Schlesinger Library agreement for the WEAL Records (MC 311, MC 500) held by the Schlesinger Library; those collections may also hold records created by Sandler.

Subseries A, American Council on Education (ACE), 1972-2005 (#36.10-38.15), includes correspondence, meeting notes, printed material, etc., from Sandler's advisory work for ACE, a higher education advocacy group. In 1972 and 1973, Sandler was involved in planning for ACE's Commission on Women in Higher Education; she has served on that commission since 1981. She also served on ACE's Equal Employment Opportunity Task Force and the Task Force on Equal Pay in Higher Education Advisory Committee. Some files in this subseries pertain to speeches Sandler gave at ACE for groups of scholars or administrators while she served on the Commission; while not officially part of her responsibilities as a commission member, she kept these files with her board files, and they are included here. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, American Jewish Committee (AJC), 1978-1989 (#38.16-39.11), includes meeting notes, correspondence, minutes, etc., from Sandler's work on a variety of women's committees at the AJC. Sandler became a member of the AJC's National Committee on the Roles of Women in 1979. Beginning in 1980, this committee was decentralized and committees on women were added to each of the AJC's four commissions in an attempt to integrate women's issues into more of AJC's programs. Sandler was a member and first chair of the Women's Issues Committee of the Domestic Affairs Commission from 1980 to 1983. The National Committee on the Roles of Women was renamed the National Committee on Women's Issues in 1981, and served as a coordinating committee for the four commission committees. Sandler served on this committee as well from 1981 to 1986. In 1986, Sandler was invited to join the steering committee of the National Women's Issues Committee. Sandler was also active in the Washington, D.C., chapter of the AJC, and helped to organize a conference on anti-semitism in the women's movement in 1983 (#39.10, 39.11). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries C, National Advisory Council on Women's Educational Programs (NACWEP), 1975-1983 (#39.12-46.9), contains correspondence, minutes, notes, printed material, etc., from Sandler's tenure on this presidentially-appointed committee. NACWEP was established by the Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA, part of the Special Projects Act of the Education Amendments of 1974) in order to advise the Commissioner of Education on administration of the act and to make recommendations concerning the improvement of educational equity for women generally. The Women's Educational Equity Act Program (WEEAP) was also developed under WEEA as a granting agency to fund projects; part of NACWEP's role was to make recommendations on the funding of WEEAP projects. Sandler was appointed to NACWEP in May 1975 by President Gerald Ford, and served as its first chair from 1975 to 1977. Meetings were held several times a year, often in different locales; an attempt was made to hear local testimonies and learn about local issues in each city. Perfunctory correspondence and printed material without annotations by Sandler has been discarded. Much of the correspondence in the subseries is between the Council's office staff, particularly its first executive director Joy Simonson, and Sandler. Folders with headings created by Sandler (those not in square brackets below) tend to be from her time as chair. Folders from 1982 and later generally contain information on the more conservative slant of NACWEP after new members were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and document Sandler's intense dissatisfaction with the new focus adopted at that time. Folders may contain minutes, correspondence, notes, testimonies, information from local groups, etc. The subseries is arranged alphabetically; meeting files are arranged chronologically, and folder titles contain meeting locations, if other than Washington, D.C.

Subseries D, WEAL general, 1969-1985 (#47.1-49.3), contains meeting notes, correspondence, and some printed material from Sandler's involvement with WEAL and her tenure on the WEAL board of directors. Sandler was a member of WEAL from 1969 until the 1980s. She served on WEAL's board of directors from 1970 to 1977, and was also a member of the National Advisory Board (an honor in name only). Routine minutes, bylaws, correspondence, etc., have been discarded; see the WEAL Records (MC 311 and MC 500) for minutes and bylaws. Letters by Sandler, or sent directly to her, or anything heavily annotated by Sandler, have been kept. Folders may include correspondence, notes, reports, etc. Folders on WEAL's state chapters include correspondence with people in those states, and also state-relevant education or executive order claims or filings. Some congressional correspondence found here relates to Sandler's FCCE work, some to ERA, and some to other topics. Some files in this subseries are restricted under the terms of the WEAL/Schlesinger Library agreement for the WEAL Records (MC 311, MC 500) held by the Schlesinger Library. Files in this subseries are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries E, WEAL Action Committee for Federal Contract Compliance on Education (FCCE), 1967-1975 (#49.4-58.2), includes correspondence, research files, complaints, etc., from Sandler's tenure as chair of the committee. She began to file administrative complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor in 1970, and continued to do so until she began working for PSEW in September 1971. In compiling information about hiring practices at colleges and universities, Sandler communicated with women and men around the country who sent her stories, complaints, and statistics on hiring and staff in various departments and campuses. Sandler used the complaints as a lobbying opportunity; she sent copies of some and letters about others to congresspeople, asking them to write to the Secretary of Labor, and also asked those who had sent her the discriminatory information to write letters to their congresspeople as well. The publicity sex discrimination in higher education recieved from this method culminated in Representative Edith Green's hearings on the topic in June 1970. Folders contain correspondence, clippings, complaints, and material used to compiled statistics; they also may include information on other individuals' formal complaints or lawsuits against an institution. Correspondents are generally faculty and staff of higher education institutions, congressional staff, or members of Congress. Some correspondence or memos found throughout the subseries were written in Sandler's official governmental capacity (either working for Edith Green or for the Women's Action Project), but were filed in these folders, presumably for reference. Correspondence dating from after September 1971 is still addressed to Sandler in her capacity as committee chair; it often includes updates about complaints or individual legal cases. Several files comprise Sandler's subject files and data to back up her complaints. Other files on this committee and complaints can also be found in the WEAL Records (MC 500). General correspondence (which also contains information about the complaints) and general files are arranged first; files on specific institutions follow alphabetically.

Subseries F, WEAL Fund, 1971-1979 (#58.3-58.21), contains board meeting notes, minutes and agendas; correspondence; and organizational material relating to the WEAL Educational and Legal Defense Fund, a legal and fundraising arm of WEAL begun in 1972. Sandler was on the board of directors from 1974 to 1979. Folders with board meeting notes may also include agendas and minutes; some of these minutes and notes contain comments on or information about individuals requesting financial or legal assistance from the Fund. These files are restricted under the terms of the WEAL/Schlesinger Library agreement for the WEAL Records (MC 311 and MC 500) held by the Schlesinger Library. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries G, Other boards, advisory committees, etc., 1971-2004 (#59.1-62.16), includes correspondence, meeting notes, minutes, etc., from some other organizations for which Sandler served as a director or advisor. Those listed here do not comprise a full listing of Sandler's many board and advisory committee activities; her own lists of boards served on can be found in #59.1. Folders are arranged alphabetically by name of organization, and chronologically thereunder.

Subseries H, Other membership organizations, 1970-2006 (#63.1-64.9), includes correspondence, meeting notes, flyers, etc., from women's organizations in which Sandler was a member. Many of these organizations date from the early 1970s. Sandler also served on the board of directors of Women United, a group of women working for the passage of the ERA, but the material in this subseries does not include any board meetings or material. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, SUBJECT FILES, 1969-2002 (#64.10-70.4), includes notes, flyers, printed material, clippings, correspondence, etc., on a number of topics, ranging from those begun in the early 1970s to those kept in the 1990s. Sandler's subject files kept during her tenure at PSEW can be found in the PSEW Records (MC 557). Clippings from major newspapers and widely distributed academic papers have been discarded. Files on the ERA include correspondence written by Sandler on WEAL letterhead; other ERA-related material can be found in Series V, Subseries D and H. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series VII, OVERSIZED, PHOTOGRAPHS, AUDIOVISUAL, AND MEMORABILIA, 1970-2007 (#FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1, SD.1m-SD.2, PD.1-PD.5, PhotoCD-4.1, CD-26.1, T-290.1-T-290.2, Vt-151.1-Vt-151.16, 12.7m, 70.5m-70.8m, Mem.1-Mem.29), includes posters, stickers, jewelry, photographs, audiotapes, videotapes, and buttons. Many of these items were from Sandler's appearances or from conferences she attended.

Subseries A, Oversized, ca.1973-1985 (#FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1, SD.1m-SD.2), contains primarily posters: from the 1977 National Women's Convention in Houston; the 1985 United Nations Decade for Women Conference in Nairobi; an abortion-rights poster from National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL); and a poster from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare detailing students' rights under Title IX. Also included is a tablecloth with the "Wages for Housework" logo on it (those words surrounding a fist clutching money with both dollar and pound signs.) The subseries also includes oversize material found throughout the collection, primarily posters advertising Sandler's talks.

Subseries B, Photographs, 1974-2007 (#PD.1-PD.5, PhotoCD-4.1), contains photographs of Sandler receiving awards; the National Women's Convention in 1977; an ERA march; with friends Pauli Murray and Sonia Pressman Fuentes; WEAL board meetings; and some publicity photos, including one of the 1977 NACWEP.

Subseries C, Audiovisual, 1991-2004 (#CD-26.1, T-290.1-T-290.2, Vt-151.1-Vt-151.16), contains recordings and videos of Sandler's public appearances at conferences or universities, as well as interviews she gave to radio or television shows. A recording of an oral history she gave in 2004 about Title IX is also included.

Subseries D, Memorabilia, 1970-2005 (#12.7m, 70.5m-70.8m, SD.1m, Mem.1-Mem.29), contains stickers, bookmarks, bumper stickers, buttons, cards, and feminist jewelry.


Bernice Resnick Sandler (known as "Bunny" since childhood) was born March 3, 1928, in New York City to Ivy Ernst Resnick and Abraham Hyman Resnick. She studied psychology at Brooklyn College (B.A., 1948) and the City College of New York (M.A., 1950). From 1951 to 1952 she was a research fellow in clinical pyschology at City College. In 1952 she married Jerrold Sandler; they had two children, Deborah (1954) and Emily (1956) and were divorced in 1978. After marriage, the Sandlers moved several times for Jerrold's work. Unable to find work in her field of psychology, Bunny worked various jobs, including pre-school teacher, guitar instructor, and secretary. When the family moved to the Washington, D.C., area in the mid-1960s, she enrolled in a doctoral program in counseling at the University of Maryland (Ed.D., 1969).

While studying at the University of Maryland, Bunny Sandler worked as a lecturer and instructor of psychology and counseling. Upon graduating, she hoped to get a tenure-track appointment in the department, but was discouraged on account of her sex. Sandler began to conduct research into the legality of sex discrimination, and at the same time began corresponding with Elizabeth "Betty" Boyer, a founder of the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), a group formed to work for women's equality through legislative and judicial channels. Sandler's research led her to Executive Order 11246 of 1965, as amended in 1967, which "prohibit[ed] federal contractors ... from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Sandler determined that this statute would outlaw sex discrimination in hiring for most colleges and universities. Under the auspices of WEAL's Committee for Federal Contract Compliance (Sandler was the entire committee), she filed administrative complaints against over 250 colleges and universities under the U.S. Department of Labor, charging the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance with failing to enforce federal contract compliance at colleges and universities. The complaints did not require a specific plaintiff's name for filing, and generally contained detailed data about university staff and faculty gender ratios, which Sandler compiled with the help of sympathetic men and women from the institutions in question.

One of Sandler's tactics with the WEAL complaints was to send copies of each complaint to the congresspeople who represented the state of a specific college or university, and ask them to write a letter to the Secretary of Labor (and later to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, who also had jurisdiction) asking the secretary to enforce the executive order for colleges and universities as required. Sandler suggested that those involved in informing her about discriminatory practices write to their congresspeople as well, in an attempt to raise the profile of the complaints. Sandler additionally sent copies of each of her complaints to Representative Edith Green (D-OR), who was a member of WEAL's advisory board. What Green learned about sex discrimination in higher education caused her to hold hearings on the topic in June 1970, and to introduce legislation that eventually became Title IX. Green invited Sandler to testify at the hearings on the equality of women in academia, and to suggest other witnesses as well. She then hired Sandler to edit and distribute the testimonies from the hearings; Sandler was Education Specialist on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor Special Subcommittee on Education from June 1970 to February 1971. In March 1971, Sandler took a job as Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare'sWomen's Action Program, a new government program meant to study the status of women within federally funded programs, including education.

In September 1971, Sandler became Director of the Association of American Colleges (AAC) Project on the Status and Education of Women (PSEW). PSEW began as a clearinghouse for the members of the AAC, who often needed government laws and regulations translated for them. Sandler ran PSEW for twenty years, giving hundreds of speeches and writing dozens of articles on women's educational equity, until she was asked to step down in 1991. The focus of PSEW and Sandler's work changed over the years, as the issues facing higher education changed. In the early 1970s, attention was focused on the passage, interpretation, and implementation of Title IX, affirmative action requirements, improving hiring and recruitment of women, and achieving gender balance in student and faculty ratios. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sandler and her staff also conducted research on sexual harassment and rape on campus, pioneering the phrase "chilly climate" to describe seemingly non-overt ways women were discriminated against in the classroom and on campus.

From August 1991 to August 1994, Sandler was a Senior Associate at the Center for Women Policy Studies (CWPS). Beginning in 1991, she also created and edited About Women on Campus, the quarterly newsletter of the National Association for Women in Education (NAWE). In August 1994, Sandler became a Senior Scholar in Residence at NAWE. NAWE ceased to exist in 2000; at that time Sandler became a Senior Scholar at the Women's Research and Education Institute (WREI). Sandler was not paid directly by these organizations (except for her editing work for NAWE), and supported her own work through a combination of grant projects, speaking engagements, and other consulting work. She continued to travel to campuses, speaking on and learning about issues relevant to women. Most of her work in the 1990s continued to deal with sexual harassment, rape, and the "chilly climate." Sandler worked on several books on these topics: The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women (1996, with Lisa A. Silverberg and Roberta Hall); Sexual Harassment on Campus: A Guide for Administrators, Faculty, and Students (1997, edited with Robert J. Shoop); and Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment, K-12: Strategies and Solutions for Educators to Use in the Classroom, School, and Community (2005, with Harriett M. Stonehill).

Sandler's advocacy work on women's issues has often occurred in conjunction with her professional work. Her mix of contacts within the government, the women's movement, and academe helped her in these endeavors. In the early 1970s, Sandler worked with multiple women's organizations, government officials, and congressional staff to gain passage of the bill that became Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments, and then lobbied the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's Office of Civil Rights to affect the tenor of the agency's regulations. She was also active in the struggle to ensure passage by the Congress of the Equal Rights Amendment, and frequently corresponded with congresspeople and their staffs on the language of the bill, possible amendments, etc. In 1972, President Richard Nixon appointed Sandler to his Council of Economic Advisors' Advisory Committee on the Economic Role of Women. In 1975, she was appointed by President Gerald Ford (and reappointed by President Jimmy Carter) to the National Advisory Committee on Women's Educational Programs (NACWEP). Sandler attended the National Women's Convention (Houston, 1977) as part of the Maryland delegation. She attended the 1985 United Nations Decade for Women Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of a delegation from the American Jewish Committee.

Sandler has been a member of many women's organizations, including WEAL, National Organization for Women, National Women's Political Caucus, and Women United. She has been a Democratic Party donor, and was part of several groups to assist with the party's platforms on education and women's issues. Sandler has served on the board of directors or on advisory committees for a large number of organizations and institutions, mainly in areas of higher education, women's education, women's rights, women's health, Jewish issues, and international women's rights.


The collection is arranged in seven series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1963-2008 (#1.1-8.4, CD-26.1, PD.1, PD.4, PhotoCD-4.1, E.1)
  2. Series II. Writings and testimonies, 1969-1999 (#8.5-11.11)
  3. Series III. Speeches, meetings, conferences, and workshops, 1970-2008 (#11.12-24.19)
  4. Series IV. Employment, 1970-2008 (#24.20-36.9)
  5. Series V. Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) and other organizations, 1967-2006 (#36.10-64.9)
  6. Series VI. Subject files, 1969-2002 (#64.10-70.4)
  7. Series VII. Oversized, photographs, audiovisual, memorabilia, 1970-2007 (#FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1, SD.1m-SD.2, PD.1-PD.5, PhotoCD-4.1, CD-26.1, T-290.1-T-290.2, Vt-151.1-Vt-151.16, 12.7m, 70.5m-70.8m, Mem.1-Mem.29)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 79-M251, 80-M80, 81-M164, 81-M267, 84-M169, 99-M159, 2005-M25, 2005-M34, 2005-M51, 2005-M104, 2005-M146, 2005-M161, 2006-M99, 2007-M74, 2007-M231, 2008-M119

The papers of Bernice Resnick Sandler were given to the Schlesinger Library by Bernice Resnick Sandler between 1979 and 2008.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Records of the Project on the Status and Education of Women, 1969-1991 (MC 557).

List of Abbreviations

  1. AAC: Association of American Colleges
  2. AAUP: American Association of University Professors
  3. AAUW: American Association of University Women
  4. ACE: American Council on Education
  5. AGB: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
  6. AIR: American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences
  7. AJC: American Jewish Committee
  8. AWIS: Association for Women in Science
  9. CWPS: Center for Women Policy Studies
  10. FCCE: WEAL's Committee for Federal Contract Compliance on Education
  11. FIPSE: Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education
  12. HEW: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
  13. NACWEP: National Advisory Council for Women's Educational Programs
  14. NAWE: National Association for Women in Education
  15. NCWGE: National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education
  16. PSEW: Project on the Status and Education of Women
  17. SUNY: State University of New York
  18. OCR: Office for Civil Rights
  19. WEAL: Women's Equity Action League
  20. WEEA: Women's Educational Equity Act
  21. WREI: Women's Research and Educational Institute

Processing Information

Processed: September 2008

Updated: May 2011

Updated: March 2014

By: Jenny Gotwals

Sandler, Bernice Resnick. Papers of Bernice Resnick Sandler, 1963-2008: 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 the Radcliffe College Class of 1950, the Radcliffe College Class of 1956, and Bernice Sandler.

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.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA