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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 681: T-390

Papers of Mary Dent Crisp, 1942-1999 (inclusive), 1972-1990 (bulk)


Speeches, correspondence, scrapbooks, and meeting materials of Mary Dent Crisp, co-chair of the and co-founder of the National Republican Coalition for Choice.


  • Creation: 1942-1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1972-1990


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 Mary Dent Crisp is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for 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.


19.72 linear feet ((28 file boxes, 6 folio+ boxes) plus 1 card file box, 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 6 photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 7 audiotapes)

This collection documents Crisp's involvement with the Republican National Committee, her support for abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment, her campaign work for John Anderson, and her involvement with the National Republican Coalition for Choice and Business Executives for National Security. Very little personal material is included. The collection includes speeches, correspondence, clippings, meeting materials, memorabilia, scrapbooks, photographs, and audiotapes. The processor created most folder titles; headings created by Crisp appear in quotation marks. Videotapes were removed from the collection and have been cataloged as the Mary Dent Crisp Videotape collection, 1979-1998 (Vt-117).

Series I, Biographical and personal, 1942-1999 (#1.1-2.4, 29CB.1m-29CB.2m, FD.1, 30F+B.1-35F+B.2, PD.1-PD2.f+, T-390.1), includes articles about Crisp; biographical notes, résumés and an interview; awards; papers written during Crisp's graduate studies at Arizona State University; buttons for individuals, organizations, and causes Crisp supported; and scrapbooks of clippings (#30F+B.1-35F+B.1) providing a detailed look at Crisp's advancement in the Republican National Committee, and the 1980 Republican National Convention and its aftermath, including her work as John Anderson's campaign manager. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, Speeches and writings, 1973-1998 (#2.5-12.46. F+D.1, SD.1, PD.3-PD.4, T-390.2 - T-390.6), primarily consists of speeches, speech notes, and itineraries and correspondence re: speaking engagements undertaken by Crisp on behalf of the Republican National Committee, and speeches given after she withdrew from the Republican National Committee. The bulk of the speeches were given to Republican organizations, such as the Arizona Federation of Republican Women, The National Conference of Republican County Officials, and the Montana Republican Coalition for Choice. Crisp also frequently campaigned for Republican candidates for office, and attended receptions and other fundraising events for Republican candidates, and for Republican State Committees. For additional Republican National Committee material, see Series IV. Many of the later speeches relate to her work for the National Republican Coalition for Choice. See Series V for additional material. The series also includes articles by Crisp and notes for her proposed book on the Gender Gap. It is arranged chronologically.

Series III, Correspondence, 1976-1999 (#12.47-18.11), consists primarily of professional correspondence and includes both alphabetically and chronologically arranged correspondence. Correspondents include George Herbert Walker Bush, Geraldine Ferraro, Sandra Day O'Connor, William Weld, Barry Goldwater, and other politicians. Also included are letters and cards Crisp received for her seventieth birthday (#15.8-15.9), and personal correspondence (#14.10-14.14). Much of the alphabetical correspondence concerns Crisp's role as co-chair of the Republican National Committee material, see Series IV for additional Republican National Committee material. The series is arranged with the alphabetical correspondence appearing first, followed by chronological correspondence.

Series IV, Republican National Committee, 1971-1992 (#18.12-25.11, 29CB.3m, OD.1, PD.5-PD.7), is arranged alphabetically and includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, scrapbooks, an audiotape, and photographs documenting Crisp's work on behalf of the Republican Party. The series documents Crisp's successful campaign for election as Committeewoman from Arizona (#18.13-18.14) and includes letters of congratulation (#18.14) and her acceptance speech (#18.13). Her successful campaign for reelection as Committee co-chair is documented in #19.10-19.13; these folders include clippings and letters of support and congratulation, as well as Crisp's replies. The series also includes attendees lists; flyers; correspondence; and planning, publicity, and outreach materials re: the 1978 National Women's Conferences held by the Republican National Committee in Boston, Chicago, Orlando, and Portland. Correspondence with prospective conference speakers such as Trent Lott, George Herbert Walker Bush, Silvio Conte, and Dan Quayle is located in #21.3, 21.11, 22.19, and #23.4. Also included are Crisp's testimony at a Joint Senate House Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment (#20.1); correspondence and publicity re: the 1980 Republican National Convention (#23.18-24.2); the speech in which Crisp notes that by reversing its position on the Equal Rights Amendment, the Republican Party will "bury the rights of over 100 million American women under a heap of platitudes" (#23.22); and a memo from Bill Brock, Committee chair, reproving her for her lack of support for Reagan (#23.19). This folder also includes Crisp's memo announcing her decision not to seek reelection as co-chair. For additional speeches Crisp made for the Republican National Committee, see Series II.

Series V, Other professional, 1976-1995 (#25.12-28.4, 29CB.4m, T-390.7), primarily contains correspondence, articles, speeches, and clippings re: Crisp's work with Business Executives for National Security. The series also includes correspondence, schedules, speeches, and campaign buttons documenting Crisp's work as John Anderson's presidential campaign manager; correspondence and memorabilia (including a gavel) re: the National Republican Coalition for Choice and the National Abortion Rights Action League; and correspondence and clippings re: Crisp's work on the President's Advisory Committee for Women. Included are articles re: Bella Abzug's dismissal from that committee and Crisp's essay "Why I Resigned" explaining her subsequent decision to leave the committee (#28.1). Also included here are correspondence re: the Arizona Coordinating Committee for International Women's Year. Of particular note are letters to Crisp criticizing her support of the Equal Rights Amendment, and her replies (#27.5). For speeches given on behalf of the National Republican Coalition for Choice and Planned Parenthood, see Series II. The series is arranged alphabetically.

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 [*].


Mary Dent Crisp was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on November 5, 1923, the seventh child of Harry and Elizabeth (Patch) Dent. She graduated from Allentown High School and received her degree in botany from Oberlin College in 1946, later pursuing graduate studies in political science at Arizona State University. In 1948 she married William Crisp, a doctor; they had three children, William, Barbara, and Anne, before divorcing in 1976. A fervent supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment and of abortion rights, Crisp was an active member of the Republican Party for over 20 years. In 1961 she served as deputy registrar in one of Barry Goldwater's campaigns and over the course of the next ten years she was elected to increasingly prominent positions within the Republican Party, serving as vice chair of the Mariposa County Republican Committee from 1968 to 1970 and as vice chair of Arizona's Republican State Committee from 1971 to 1972. She was elected to the Republican National Committee in 1972, as National Committeewoman from Arizona, and became secretary of the Committee in 1976. As secretary, she called the roll at the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1977, she was elected co-chair and served until 1980. At the 1980 Republican Convention, she spoke out against the platform committee's decision to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, and also protested the party's opposition to the federal funding of abortion. Her positions on these issues drew widespread publicity and led to Ronald Reagan, the Party's candidate, reproving her on national television, noting that she should "look to herself and see how loyal she's been to the Republican Party." Crisp subsequently announced that she would not seek reelection as co-chair and signed on as presidential candidate John Anderson's campaign manager.

Crisp served on President Carter's Advisory Committee for Women, resigning shortly after Bella Abzug was fired from the committee, and also served on the boards of Women's Economic Roundtable, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Women's Political Caucus, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. From 1984 until the mid-1990s, she was a national director of the Washington-based political action committee, Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan advocacy group concerned about the economic effects of the arms race. In 1989, after the Supreme Court restricted federal funding for abortion, Crisp co-founded and served as chair and spokesperson for the National Republican Coalition for Choice. She died in her home in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 24, 2007, from complications from a stroke.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1942-1999 (#1.1-2.4, 29CB.1m-29CB.2m, FD.1, 30F+B.1-35F+B.2, PD.1-PD2.f+, T-390.1)
  2. Series II. Speeches and writings, 1973-1998 (#2.5-12.46. F+D.1, SD.1, PD.3-PD.4, T-390.2 - T-390.6)
  3. Series III. Correspondence, 1976-1999 (#12.47-18.11)
  4. Series IV. Republican National Committee, 1971-1992 (#18.12-25.11, 29CB.3m, OD.1, PD.5-PD.7)
  5. Series V. Other professional, 1976-1995 (#25.12-28.4, 29CB.4m, T-390.7)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 97-M2, 2000-M157

The papers of Mary Dent Crisp were given to the Schlesinger Library by Mary Dent Crisp in 1997 and 2000.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Mary Dent Crisp Videotape collection, 1979-1998 (Vt-117).


Donors: Mary Dent Crisp

Accession number: 97-M2

Processed by: Susan Earle

The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to the Schlesinger Library Books Division:

  1. Women Power (leadership manual of the Republican National Committee), 1968?

Processing Information

Processed: July 2011

By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Camille Torres.

Crisp, Mary Dent, 1923-2007. Papers of Mary Dent Crisp, 1942-1999 (inclusive), 1972-1990 (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 a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1957.

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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