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MC 575; T-97; T-125, Vt-1; Phon-7

Friedan, Betty. Papers of Betty Friedan, 1933-1985: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
January 1986

© 1986 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Updated November 2015

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 575; T-97; T-125, Vt-1; Phon-7
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Betty Friedan
Title: Papers of Betty Friedan, 1933-1985
Quantity: 72.45 linear feet (167 file boxes, 3 folio boxes, 3 folio+ boxes, 1 oversize box) plus 4 folio+ folders, 2 supersize folders, 52 photograph folders, 4 folio photograph folders, 2 folio+ photograph folders, 2 negative folders, 2 slide folders, 68 audiotapes, 6 videotapes, 2 phonograph records, 2 objects, 1 reel of microfilm (M-62)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Papers of Betty Friedan, feminist, activist, and author.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: January 1986
By: Jane S. Knowles, Katherine Gray Kraft, Faith Adiele, Lucy Thoma, Adelaide Kennedy
Updated: 2009
By: Jenny Gotwals, with assistance from Joëlle Burdette
Updated: 2014
By: Jenny Gotwals

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 71-62, 76-225, 76-313, 77-M105, 78-M18, 79-M66, 80-M250, 81-M23
These papers were purchased from Betty Friedan by the Schlesinger Library in May 1971.

Access Restrictions:

Access. During the lifetimes of the Friedan children (Daniel, Emily, and Jonathan), all readers must sign a special permission form.
Series I. #63a-65, 113-218, 221at-236, and 246 are closed until January 1, 2029; 219a-220 and 237-245 are closed until January 1, 2040.
Series II. #297a-298c are closed until January 1, 2029.
Series III. Researchers must sign a special form for access to #411, 425, 437, 445, 455, 457, 460, 741-752, 758-765, 787-800, 933, 951-953, 958, 968, 977, 979, and 988 until 80 years from the date of the most recent document in the respective folder. #716-735 are closed for 80 years from the date of the most recent document in the respective folder.
Series IV. Researchers must sign a special form for access to #1106 and 1295 until 80 years from the date of the most recent document in the respective folder.
Series VI. #1611-1614, 1617-1620, and 1622-1626 (membership records) are closed for 50 years in accordance with the Library's agreement with the National Organization for Women (NOW); #1638-1642, 1644-1646, and 1649 are restricted according to an agreement between the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives and the New York City Chapter of NOW requiring the written permission of NOW-NYC; #1674b is closed until January 1, 2035; #1710-1719, 1721-1722, 1724-1728 and 1730 are restricted in accordance with the Library's agreement with the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC); researchers must sign a special form for access to #1730 until 80 years from the date of the most recent document in the respective folder.
As of 2014, NARAL-related folders in Series VI are no longer restricted.
As of November 2015, access to folders #1473-1546, 1548-1571, 1573-1587, 1589-1605, 1607-1631, 1633, 1635-1637, 1650-1655, 1657-1660, and 1669 no longer requires written permission from the National Organization for Women.
Series VII. Researchers must sign a special form for access to #1787 until 80 years from the date of the most recent document in the respective folder.
Series VIII. #2123f is closed until January 1, 2029.
An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Betty Friedan is held by her heirs. Permission to publish must be obtained from Friedan's literary executor. 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.

Preferred citation for publication:

Betty Friedan Papers, 1933-1985; item description, dates. MC 575, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is additional material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1937-1993 (MC 576), and Additional papers of Betty Friedan, 1941-2006 (MC 577).
Audiovisual material has been cataloged separately with more detailed description, see: Audio collection of Betty Friedan, 1963-2007 (T-97, T-125, Phon-7), and Video collection of Betty Friedan, ca.1970-2006 (Vt-1, DVD-34).


Betty Friedan was born Bettye Goldstein on February 4, 1921, in Peoria, Illinois, the daughter of Harry and Miriam (Horwitz) Goldstein. She attended Peoria public schools and graduated summa cum laude from Smith College in 1942. She continued her studies as a University fellow in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley (1943). In June 1947 she married Carl Friedan, an advertising executive; they had three children (Daniel, Jonathan, and Emily) and were divorced in May 1969.
Friedan was a labor and freelance journalist in the 1940s. In the 1950s she wrote articles for a variety of popular and women's magazines. The design of a reunion questionnaire for her Smith College 15th class reunion (1957) gave her insights into the lives of her contemporaries, and provided data for her first and best-known book, The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963. Her analysis of women's role and status fueled the controversy over women's proper place in society and had a dramatic impact on women in the United States and abroad. Friedan quickly became the leading advocate for change in the status of women and was inundated with requests to lecture and to write. She appeared frequently as a keynote speaker at conferences, and on radio and television.
Friedan's second book, It Changed My Life (1976), was a collection of her essays on the women's movement. The Second Stage (1981) suggested a new direction for women's activism toward embracing family, motherhood, sexuality, etc., and advocated working with men to restructure institutions. The Fountain of Age (1993) was the product of over a decade of research related to aging, how it affects men and women differently, and American society's attitudes toward age. Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family (1997) was the result of several symposia Friedan led in an attempt to reimagine public policy responses to unresolved women's issues. Friedan published an autobiography, My Life So Far, in 2000.
In 1966, Friedan helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW), a civil rights organization for women. She served as its first president (1966-1970). She was an organizer of the Women's Strike for Equality (1970), a convenor of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC, 1971), an organizer and director of the First Women's Bank (New York), and vice-president of the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (NARAL, 1970-1973). In the late 1970s and 1980s Friedan was active in several Jewish organizations, primarily the American Jewish Congress. During the 1980s she was involved in local politics, both in New York City, and in Sag Harbor, New York, where she had a second home.
In addition to her active career as a lecturer, commentator, and author, Friedan taught classes at a variety of universities beginning in the 1970s. While her early classes focused on women's experiences and issues, by the 1990s she had broadened her focus and taught classes in management and leadership style at several business schools. She held research fellowships at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Southern California (USC), and the Smithsonian's Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. She directed a think tank on new dimensions in feminist thought at USC (1987-1993), and her course on "Women, Men and Media" developed into an ongoing national media monitoring project supported by grants from the Gannett Foundation, the Times Mirror Foundation, and others.
Friedan served on advisory boards and boards of directors of a large number of organizations, including NOW LDEF and the Girl Scouts. She received honorary degrees from numerous universities and colleges. Friedan died on February 4, 2006, her 85th birthday, in Washington, D.C.


The collection is arranged in eight series:


These papers of Betty Friedan were previously designated by an accession number range: "71-62--81-M23." They include correspondence, financial and legal documents, research notes and drafts of writings, teaching notes, organizational records, photographs, audiovisual material, and memorabilia. Most of the material dates from the 1950s to the 1970s. The papers arrived in no order; most documents were not in folders. They were roughly sorted and screened so they could be made available for research use. Folder titles were created by the archivist. In 2009, the archivist reboxed the collection, added more description to folder titles and scope and content notes, and intellectually rearranged some folders; the physical arrangement was retained. Basic folder numbers remain the same as in "71-62--81-M23," but for preservation purposes, many overly-full folders have been divided, adding alphabetical designations to the previously assigned numbers (e.g., #149a-149b). File units beginning with #2014 were not previously described. Two later sets of Friedan's papers (MC 576) and (MC 577) are also available at the Schlesinger Library. Cross-references are given below only when deemed essential; they are not indicative of the extensive overlap among all three collections.
Series I, PERSONAL PAPERS, 1933-1984 (#1-246, 547, 2136-2137, Mem.1, Mem.2), includes photographs; resumes; clippings and articles about Friedan; correspondence with family and friends; legal papers; and professional and personal financial material. The majority of the series is CLOSED until 2029, except for #1-62 and 66-112, containing photographs, clippings, awards, etc.
Photographs (#1-59f+, 2136-2137) include snapshots as well as professionally-taken images: Friedan, both portraits and in small groups (#1-25), the Friedan family (#26-45), and photographs (some not used) taken to illustrate Friedan's published articles (#47-52). Biographical information (#61-112c, Mem.1, Mem.2) includes resumes, awards (including honorary degrees), autobiographies and diary-type writings, FBI files, buttons and other memorabilia, and clippings. Reviews of Friedan's books (Series III: #668-670, 1035-1036) include additional press coverage.
Personal correspondence and other personal papers (#113-152) contains letters from family members and friends, and includes the Goldstein family (#113-117): Miriam Goldstein Obendorf (Friedan's mother), Amy Goldstein Adams (Friedan's sister), Harry Goldstein (Freidan's father), and Betty Jolkovsky (Friedan's aunt); letters concerning the Friedan family (#118-130) and correspondence between them; as well as some personal papers of Carl Friedan; financial material and memorabilia; and the school records of the Friedan children. There is also correspondence from classmates and friends (#131-152). Holiday cards with no messages were discarded; lists of the senders can be found in folders along with inscribed cards.
Legal papers (#154-166) include material relating to Betty and Carl Friedan's 1969 divorce. Professional financial papers (#167-178, 183) include royalty statements, lecture earning statements, etc. Some folders include correspondence and contracts with lecture agencies. Personal financial papers (#179-182, 184-218) include bills, canceled checks, bank statements, tax returns, insurance premiums, correspondence regarding tuition, medical appointments and costs, vacation house rentals, etc. Some of this material is also related to her divorce. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Friedan attended a number of psychological institutes and workshops, including Esalen, the Tahoe Institute, and Oasis: Midwest Center for Human Potential. She considered writing a book about her experiences at some of these places, and often interviewed other participants. Folders on these topics (#219a-245, 547) may include brochures, correspondence and interviews with group members, and notes.
Series II, SCHOOL, COLLEGE, AND EARLY CAREER, 1935-1978 (#247v-376, 520, 2014), includes course notes, exams, term papers; poems, short stories, and articles written while a student; writings from Friedan's early career as journalist; and records and notes re: the Community Resources Pool, a school enrichment program in Rockland County, New York.
Peoria High School material (#247v-251) includes some early autobiographical writing. Smith College material (#253-355, 257-318at) includes course notes, exams, term papers, syllabi, etc. These folders are arranged with grades, etc., first, followed by courses listed alphabetically. Of note is writing done at a Highlander Folk School writing workshop in the summer of 1941. For Friedan's 1942 Smith College yearbook, see MC 577. There is also material from Friedan's 1942 summer job at the Psychiatric Institute of Grassland Hospital, in Valhalla, New York (#319); Rorschach tests (#297) are from patients.
Friedan's early writing career was as a labor journalist (#328-345b, 520, 2014). She wrote for the Federated Press news service from 1943 to 1946, and then worked for the newspaper of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, the UE News, from 1946 until 1952. Issues of UE News (#337f+-345af+) contain frequent contributions by Friedan (often unattributed or signed "B.G."). She also wrote for other publications under pen names (see #345bf).
In 1956, the Friedans moved from Queens to the suburbs of Rockland County, New York. In 1958, Friedan helped organize the Intellectual Resources Pool, a school enrichment program which offered extracurricular courses taught by local experts; she was the chair until 1964. In 1960 the organization changed its name to the Community Resources Pool. Included are clippings, grant applications, correspondence, and program promotional material (#346-376).
Series III, WRITING, 1951-1985 (#377a-519, 521-980, 982-1066, 1068-1082, 1177-1178, 1237-1238, 1254a-1260, 1281, 1302, 1656, 2009o, 2015-2041, M-62), includes material related to Friedan's journalistic writings after her work as a labor journalist, as well as her later feminist books and articles. The series begins with articles on urban and suburban ways of living and ends with drafts of her third book, The Second Stage. Folders may include handwritten and typescript notes and drafts, galleys, page proofs and tearsheets, background printed material, correspondence with publishers and readers, and reviews.
Pre-Feminine Mystique writing (#377a-489, 549a-b, 2015, M-62) includes Friedan's articles written between 1951 and 1963. The Friedans lived in Parkway Village, a housing complex in Queens built for United Nations personnel and United States veterans, from 1950 to 1956. Issues of its newsletter, the Parkway Villager, edited by Friedan, as well as an article about its cultural diversity, are included (#380-384). The original responses to the 15th reunion questionnaires from the Smith College Class of 1942 are also here; they are also available on microfilm (M-62). Several articles relating to the questionnaire, as well as one written about Smith College students in 1959, deal with many of the issues Friedan raised in The Feminine Mystique. Undated manuscripts and story outlines are in #463-489.
Papers re: The Feminine Mystique (#490-519, 521-546, 548, 550-737, 1057, 1065, 2016-2034), published in 1963, include research notes and clippings, handwritten and typescript drafts (some with editor's comments), correspondence, proofs, reader response letters, etc. Friedan's notes on her research, some dating from 1957, interviews with women, etc., are in #490-551 and #554-570. Most notes are handwritten; some folders include printed background material. Reader responses to the book are arranged chronologically; some have Friedan's own folder titles in quotation marks. Original reader response letters are closed for 80 years; redacted copies may be used for research. Some reader responses included here are to excerpts or treatments of The Feminine Mystique published in popular magazines like McCall's and TV Guide. See also MC 576 (#216) for more reader responses from the 1970s. Material relating to the 10th anniversary edition of the book, published with a new introduction and postscript, is also included (#672v-678, 1057).
Material for "Jane Crow, the Unfinished Revolution" (#547, 813-905, 1071, 2035-2040) relates to Friedan's unfinished book of this proposed title, which was meant to address the plight of professional women, and the role of government in encouraging women to have paid careers. It is connected to work done by Friedan for a 1964 special issue of Ladies' Home Journal, "Woman: The Fourth Dimension" (#766-797). Friedan interviewed working women in Washington, D.C., and around the country, to find out their working conditions, views on women's work equality, etc. She also talked to men who worked in government, particularly in roles that involved helping women gain employment, and to non-profit organizations that advocated for professional and working women. Folders include background material, clippings, notes, handwritten and typescript drafts, correspondence, and interviews conducted between ca.1963 and 1966.
It Changed My Life, Friedan's 1976 book of her collected essays on the women's movement, is documented in #990-1037. She wrote new introductions for all the pieces, which were generally speeches or previously published articles. See also #162 for correspondence with Random House. Folders may include notes, handwritten and typescript drafts, correspondence, clippings, proofs, etc.
Other writings in this series include The Feminine Mystique excerpts published in McCall's and TV Guide, other articles about working women, and "Betty Friedan's Notebook" (#934-953), a series of columns written for McCall's. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Friedan took several trips around the world (including to India, Iran, Colombia, Eastern and Northern Europe) to attend conferences and report on women's issues. Writings that resulted from these trips are in this series, including an article about Indira Gandhi. Many articles are about specific conferences and political conventions, which Friedan began to report on in 1968. Background and other material about some of these conventions and conferences can also be found in Series IV. Articles and interviews from the 1970s show Friedan's growing frustration with women's liberation and its accomplishments. Early drafts of The Second Stage are at the end of the series (#1051-1052).
Series IV, LECTURES, 1942-1980 (#1067, 1083-1176, 1179-1236, 1239-1253, 1261-1280, 1282-1301, 1303-1317, 1387, 2042-2044), includes itineraries, correspondence, programs, fliers, clippings, etc., relating to Friedan's talks on radio and television as well as her speeches and lectures at conferences. Audiotapes of some of Friedan's speeches are also included. The series is arranged with general correspondence filed first, followed by correspondence filed chronologically by lecture.
Folders of correspondence, arrangements, and itineraries (#1083-1134) document Friedan's lecture schedule, and include general correspondence, most of it with several lecture bureaus. Also included are a few calendars and appointment books; many more of these can be found in MC 576 and MC 577. This section is mainly comprised of incoming letters; some folders have carbons of outgoing letters as well. Folders are arranged chronologically.
Lectures, conferences, and TV and radio talks (#1067, 1135-1176, 1179-1236, 1239-1253, 1261-1280, 1282-1301, 1303-1317, 1387, 2042-2044), are documented by additional correspondence about Friedan's appearances and lecture schedule, generally organized by event. While general files containing correspondence, arrangements, background material on many conferences, conventions, and events are included in this series, Friedan's writings on those events are listed in Series III. Friedan covered the 1968 U.S. presidential conventions as a member of the press, and subsequently wrote an article for Mademoiselle. She attended the 1972 Democratic convention as a delegate for Shirley Chisholm. During the 1976 presidential campaign, Friedan followed the candidates' wives to the conventions and afterwards as a correspondent for Newsday. Sometimes her trips did not result in published articles; she attended the 1974 World Population Conference in Bucharest with the idea of writing an article, but failed to find an interested publication. She covered the 1975 International Woman's Year conference in Mexico City for New York magazine. Titles appearing in quotation marks are generally conferences or titles of television shows. The few speech transcripts are noted after the event listing and date.
Series V, RESEARCH AND TEACHING, 1960-1979 (#1318-1377), includes material relating to courses Friedan taught, workshops she led, and research she undertook. Course material includes correspondence with administrators and students, syllabi, book lists, lecture notes, and some audiotapes of lectures. Also included are grant applications and related correspondence, many concerning the beginnings of Friedan's research for The Fountain of Age.
Series VI, ORGANIZATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS, AND COMMISSIONS, 1943-1980 (#1378-1386, 1388-1655, 1657-1780, 2045), includes minutes, reports, membership cards, correspondence, and program and printed material from groups with which Friedan was involved, in both large and small ways. Large sections of the series involve women's organizations of which she was a founding member: the First Women's Bank in New York City, the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws (NARAL), the National Organization for Women (NOW), NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW LDEF), and the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC). Several of these organizations experienced name changes; after 1973, NARAL changed its name to the National Abortion Rights Action League, keeping its acronym. A significant amount of material is related to an Economic Think Tank for Women, which Friedan was involved in trying to establish in the early 1970s. It was affiliated with the Center for Policy Reseach, an organization associated with Friedan's friend, sociologist Amitai Etzioni. Some of the records from NOW and NWPC are restricted in accordance with the Library's respective agreements with each organization. The series is arranged alphabetically by organization.
National Organization for Women (NOW) (#1473-1655, 1657-1669, 2045) documentation includes Friedan's files on the organization, which she served as President (1966-1970). Folders are arranged by type of material: correspondence (#1473-1536c, filed alphabetically by major correspondent and then chronologically); founding documents (#1537-1549, 1557); general documents (#1550-1609, 1647-1648, 1650-1655, 1657-1660, 1662, including reports, minutes, etc., filed chronologically); membership files (#1610-1626); chapter information and correspondence (#1627-1646, 1649, 1661); and clippings (#1663-1668). Folders of general correspondence contain a mixture of letters from NOW members, non-members writing for more information re: NOW, and requests to interview Friedan re: NOW. These folders may include copies of letters between other NOW officers (not Friedan) as well as general NOW correspondence with officers and membership. See also #834-837 for Friedan's notes from early NOW meetings.
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW LDEF) (#1670-1706) documents include memos and correspondence discussing cases to take, projects to pursue, finances, etc. Folders may include agendas, minutes, reports, memos, and correspondence with board members, unless otherwise noted. Folders are arranged chronologically.
Series VII, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1942-1981 (#981, 1781-1987, 2046-2053), includes political and literary invitations; Friedan's correspondence with the public, literary agents, authors, and publishers; and miscellaneous notes, address lists, and telephone numbers. The bulk of the general correspondence (#1781-1931) includes fan mail, invitations to lecture, notices of and invitations to political events, notes from friends and other feminists, requests for book blurbs, etc. Letters are primarily incoming, but some folders contain replies or inquiries from Friedan or her secretaries. Correspondence is arranged chronologically. The end of the series includes miscellaneous social invitations, address lists and notes.
Editorial correspondence (#1932-1950, 2053) includes correspondence with Friedan's agents and publishers. Folders may include requests to review or write books, contracts, and rejection letters. See also Series III.
Series VIII, AUDIOVISUAL, PRINTED MATERIAL, OVERSIZED, AND MEMORABILIA, 1949-1980 (#1988at-1998at, 1999vt-2004vt, 2005ph-2006ph, 2007f-2008o, 2010-2013f, 2054-2122, 2123f-2127f, 2128f+-2129f+, 2130o-2131o, 2132+, 2133m-2135m) includes audiotapes, videotapes, and phonograph records that were not listed in the previous series. Audiovisual material described here will be more fully cataloged separately as well. Also included are folders of clippings and printed material that were kept by Friedan as subject files or were removed from the above series. Printed material is arranged alphabetically by topic. Some of this material may have been used by Friedan as book or article research. Much of it contains her marginalia or notes. Oversized material and memorabilia listed in this series contains only "catch-all" folders of individual items removed from folders listed in the series above; intact entire folders of oversized material are listed and described in their appropriate series, above.
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 [*].
Audiovisual material has been cataloged separately with more detailed description, see: Audio collection of Betty Friedan, 1963-2007 (T-97, T-125, Phon-7), and Video collection of Betty Friedan, ca.1970-2006 (Vt-1, DVD-34).



Additional catalog entries

The following catalog entries represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. An entry for each appears in the Harvard On Line Library Information System (HOLLIS) and other automated bibliographic databases. THIS IS NOT AN INDEX.
Abortion--United States
Authors, American
Bell, Carolyn Shaw
Brown, Helen Gurley
Ceballos, Jacqueline Michot, 1925-
Clarenbach, Kathryn F.
College teachers--United States
DeCrow, Karen
Democratic National Convention (1968 : Chicago, Ill.)
Democratic National Convention (1972 : Miami Beach, Fla.)
Democratic National Convention (1976 : New York, N.Y.)
Drews, Elizabeth Monroe, 1915-
East, Catherine
Eastwood, Mary O., 1930-
Equal rights amendments
Fan mail
Feminism--United States
Feminists--United States
First Women's Bank (New York, N.Y.)
Fox, Muriel
Friedan, Betty. Feminine mystique
Friedan, Betty. It changed my life.
Friedan, Carl
Fuentes, Sonia Pressman
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984
Girl Scouts of the United States of America
International Women's Year, 1975
International Women's Year, 1975--Congresses
Jewish women--United States
Journalists--United States
Manuscripts for publication
Murray, Pauli, 1910-1985
National Abortion Rights Action League
National Organization for Women
National Women's Political Caucus (U.S.)
New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs--20th century
NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund
Paul VI, Pope, 1897-1978
Peoria (Ill.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Phonograph records
Rawalt, Marguerite, 1895-
Rodell, Marie F. (Marie Freid), 1912-
Rossi, Alice S., 1922-2009
Second-wave feminism--United States
Sex discrimination against women--United States
Simchak, Morag MacLeod
Smith College--Alumni and alumnae
Smith College--Students
Stern, Edith M. (Edith Mendel), 1901-1975
Toffler, Alvin
Political conventions
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.
Women--Employment--United States
Women -- Legal status, laws, etc.--United States
Women--United States--Social conditions
Women authors
Women in mass media.
Women--Political activity--United States
Women political activists--United States
Women's rights--Congresses
Women's rights--United States
World Conference of the International Women's Year (1975 : Conference Centre of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs)