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Updated January 2013
© 2002 President and Fellows of Harvard College
Updated: January 2013
Call No.: MC 478
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Marguerite Rawalt, 1895-
Title: Papers of Marguerite Rawalt, 1870s-1989
Quantity: 37.85 linear ft. (33 cartons, 3 file boxes, 2 half file boxes, 2 folio+ boxes, 1 card file box) plus 3 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 1 supersize folder, 81 photograph folders, 11 folio photograph folders, 8 folio+ photograph folders, 1 supersize photograph folder, 27 slides, 1 videotape
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Papers of Marguerite Rawalt, attorney and officer in the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, National Organization for Women, and Women's Equity Action League.
Marguerite Rawalt was born October 16, 1895, in Prairie City, Illinois. She received her AB/LLB (1933) and LLM (1936) from George Washington University. From 1933 to 1965, Rawalt worked as an attorney in the office of chief counsel, Bureau of Internal Revenue. During her tenure there, she served as president of the National Association of Women Lawyers (1942-1943) and the Federal Bar Association (1943-1944). She was the first woman president of the Federal Bar Association and the first woman sent to the American Bar Association's House of Delegates (1943).Rawalt was also active in several women's organizations, including the General Federation of Women's Clubs and Zonta International. She served as President of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women (1954-1956), and as the first president of Business and Professional Women's Foundation, an educational and research institution, which she helped found in 1956.Rawalt was appointed to President Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, and subsequently participated in other commissions on the status of women, including the Citizens' Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the District of Columbia Commission on the Status of Women.Rawalt was an early member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and chair of its legal committee (1966-1969). She was a founder of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in 1970 and served as its treasurer for three years. Rawalt was also an early member of and attorney for Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), which was established in 1968. She served on various WEAL committees and as the group's president (1979-1980). The Marguerite Rawalt Legal Defense Fund was established in 1977 to work on sex discrimination cases. In 1974, Rawalt returned to George Washington University and taught a course entitled "Women and the Law."Rawalt's work towards the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment began as early as Operation Buttonhole, a 1950s project of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, and continued throughout the 1970s. She was a founding member of Women United and the ERA Ratification Council. She also helped with the work of ERAmerica and ERA Congressional Jubilee.Rawalt was author of three published volumes: The Equal Rights Amendment for Equal Rights Under the Law (WEAL, 1976), A History of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc. (NFBPW, 1969), and Decendants of John Rawalt (Rewalt), Revolutionary War Patriot, Serving 1775-1782 (Rawalt, 1974). Accounts of Rawalt's life and work are featured in several biographical reference works, including Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who of American Women, and Notable American Women. She is also the subject of Judith Paterson's biography, Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt (Eakin Press, 1986).Marguerite Rawalt married Army Air Corps Sergeant Jack Tindale in 1918 and divorced him in 1927. She was married to retired Air Force Major Harry Secord from 1937 until his death in 1963; they had no children. Rawalt died December 16, 1989, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Admissions to Practice
- U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia
- Texas State Bar
- Tax Court of the United States (then U.S. Board of Tax Appeals)
- United States Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, Chicago
- Supreme Court of Appeals, Virginia, Circuit Court of Arlington
- Delegate, American Bar Association
- President, Federal Bar Association
- President, District of Columbia Business and Professional Women's Club
- Member, Board of Directors, National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs (BPW)
- National Membership Chairman, BPW
- Second Vice-President, BPW
- Founder, President, Business and Professional Women's Foundation
- Honorary Member, Blackfeet Indian Tribe (Glacier, Wyoming)
- First General Counsel; Chairman, Legal Committee, National Organization for Women (NOW)
- Board of Directors, NOW
- Special Budget Committee, NOW
- Charter Member, WEAL
- Member, Golden Anniversary Commission, BPW
- Member, Board of Directors, WEAL
- Legislative Liaison (D.C.), WEAL
- Treasurer, NOW LDEF
- Vice-Chairman and Counsel, Women United
- Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee, WEAL
- Chairman, ERA Committee, WEAL
- Member, Board of Directors, WEAL ELDF
- Vice President, Board of Directors, WEAL ELDF
- Chairman, Status of Women Committee, WEAL
- Professional Lecturer, George Washington University
- Member, Ad Hoc Structure Committee, General Federation of Women's Clubs
- Vice-Chairman, Washington Forum, ERA Ratification Council
- Member, International Status of Women Committee, Zonta
- Vice-President, WEAL
- Member, Board of Advisors, Outstanding Young Women of America
- Chairman, Status of Women Division, D.C. State Federation of Women's Clubs
- Member, National Bylaws Committee, General Federation of Women's Clubs
- Member, Ad Hoc Structure Committee (International Affairs), General Federation of Women's Clubs
- Member, Tax Exempt Organizations Committee of Taxation Council, Federal Bar Association
- Member, Investment Committee, Zeta Tau Alpha
- Chairman, Equal Rights and Status of Women Committee, Women's Bar Association
- Chairman, Legislative Committee, National Association of Women Lawyers
- Legal Advisor, National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
- Member, D.C. Coordinating Committee, International Women's Year
- Member, Nominating Committee, WEAL
- Chairman, ERA Ratification Council
- President, WEAL
- President Emeritus, WEAL ELDF
- Advisory Committee, Woman Activist Fund
The collection is arranged in twelve series:
- Series I. Personal and Biographical (#1.1-16.5)
- Subseries A. General autobiographical and biographical material
- Subseries B. Oral History/Book Materials
- Subseries C. Speeches
- Subseries D. Correspondence
- Subseries E. Clippings
- Series II. Professional (#16.6-19.17)
- Series III. Business and Professional Women's Clubs and Foundation (#19.18-23.3)
- Subseries A. National Federation of Business and Professional Women/Business and Professional Women's Foundation
- Subseries B. State Federations of Business and Professional Women
- Subseries C. International Federation of Business and Professional Women
- Series IV. Government Appointments: President's Commission on the Status of Women, Citizens' Advisory Council on the Status of Women, etc. (#23.31-24.29, 26.1-26.4)
- Series V, National Organization for Women (#25.1-25.38, 27.13, 27.18, 36.1-36.2, 37.1-37.12, 37.14)
- Series VI, National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund (#26.5-26.11, 27.1-27.12, 27.14-27.17, 27.19-27.26, 36.3-36.4, 37.13, 37.15-37.16, 38.1-38.4)
- Series VII, Women's Equity Action League (#27.27-27.40, 28.1-28.27)
- Series VIII, Women's Equity Action League Legal Defense and Education Fund/Women's Equity Action League Education and Legal Defense Fund (#28.28-29.26)
- Series IX, Equal Rights Amendment (#29.27-31.39)
- Series X, Other Organizations (#31.40-33.22)
- Series XI, Scrapbooks, Photographs (#32.23-35.12; PD.1-PD.87)
- Series XII, Oversize Materials and Ephemera (#39.1m-39.4+)
This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Marguerite Rawalt. Their volume and organization distinguishes Rawalt's collection from others. For example, Rawalt gathered detailed information on every state chapter of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, making notes on newly elected chapter officials and events. She also created "annual notes," personal files which documented her residence, major events in her life, personal achievements, and publications. Rawalt may have used her files on state federation chapters in writing her A History of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, and likely referred to her annual notes when interviewed for the Oral History Research Office, Columbia University. In any case, Marguerite Rawalt's files offer an impressive range of material documenting both her personal and professional life. The collection is divided into twelve series:Series I, Personal and Biographical (#1.1-16.5), contains personal, autobiographical, and biographical materials and is divided into five sub-series.Subseries A, General autobiographical and biographical material, contains Rawalt's notes and autobiographical writings, biographical sketches by others (used for publication or in awards ceremonies, for example), school records, genealogical information about the Rawalt and Secord families, chronological files, "leading documents," and annual notes. Folders headed "leading documents" contain published and unpublished writings by Rawalt and others. Both leading documents and annual notes are arranged chronologically and appear to have been used in preparation for, or in conjunction with, the interviews for Columbia University's Oral History Research Office. Because such use of these materials cannot be determined, they are filed here rather than in Sub-series B.Subseries B, Oral History/Book Materials, contains materials relating to a series of interviews conducted by the Oral History Research Office, Columbia University between 1978 and 1980 and materials relating to Judith Paterson's biography of Marguerite Rawalt, Be Somebody (Eakin Press, 1986).Subseries C, Speeches, contains transcripts of speeches given by Rawalt between 1942 and 1984. These files, named "Talks" by Rawalt, are arranged chronologically. Speeches relating to the Equal Rights Amendment are contained in Series IX, ERA.Subseries D, Correspondence, contains correspondence in four, possibly overlapping, filing systems. First, outgoing letters are arranged chronologically beginning in 1933 and ending in 1989 (#6.1-10.19). Second, correspondence with individuals is arranged alphabetically by surname (#10.20-10.74). Third, correspondence with or about organizations is arranged alphabetically by name (#11.1-11.58). Fourth, correspondence with individuals and organizations is arranged alphabetically by state (#11.59-13.13). Finally, Rawalt kept a file of incoming letters of congratulations and commendation which are included at the beginning of this sub-series. This sub-series includes both professional and personal correspondence. Outgoing letters relating to Rawalt's work as legal counsel for various women's organizations are intermingled with personal letters to family and friends. Correspondence may be duplicated throughout the collection, if also filed by subject within this or another series; duplication of outgoing letters written by Rawalt in any professional capacity is more likely than the duplication of her personal letters. This sub-series, then, contains the most extensive information on Rawalt's family life found in the collection. Family files in Series I and photographs/scrapbooks in Series XI may complement these letters well.Both professional and personal correspondence sometimes include clippings, notes, memoranda, reports, talks, or photographs. For the most part, photographs contained in these files are uncatalogued portraits or snapshots of correspondents; individual folder descriptions indicate where they are located. Correspondence with other female attorneys and female judges appear frequently in this series; as an aid to researchers, their names, as well as those of other prominent correspondents, are listed on sheets of paper at the beginning of folders in which they are contained.Subseries E, Clippings, contains newspaper and magazine articles relating to Marguerite Rawalt. This series also contains programs and other materials relating to events and conferences that Marguerite Rawalt attended, related correspondence and memoranda, and notes. They are arranged chronologically, beginning in 1930 and ending in the 1980s.Series II, Professional (#16.6-19.17), contains papers relating to Marguerite Rawalt's career as an attorney with the Internal Revenue Service and her membership in various bar associations, with a special emphasis on her presidencies of the National Association of Women Lawyers (1942-1943) and the Federal Bar Association (1943-1944). Series II also contains materials relating to "Women and the Law," a course Rawalt taught at George Washington University in 1974.Series III, Business and Professional Women's Clubs and Foundation (#19.18-23.3), is divided into three subseries.Subseries A, National Federation of Business and Professional Women/Business and Professional Women's Foundation, emphasizes historical documents used to write A History of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc. (NFBPWC, 1969) and administrative materials from Rawalt's Federation and Foundation presidencies (1954-1956, 1960). This sub-series also contains national convention programs and notes, files on National Federation presidents and officers, files relating to fundraising for a national headquarters in Washington, D.C., the incorporation of the Business and Professional Women's Foundation, ERA ratification efforts, and the establishment of the Marguerite Rawalt Resource Center.Subseries B, State Federations of Business and Professional Women, emphasizes Rawalt's local federation, the District of Columbia State Federation of Business and Professional Women, and the installation of clubs in its jurisdiction. This sub-series also contains alphabetically arranged correspondence with and general information about other state federations. Rawalt seems to have used this information in her A History of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc.Subseries C, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, contains administrative materials and correspondence with members which is arranged alphabetically by country of origin.Series IV, Government Appointments: President's Commission on the Status of Women, Citizens' Advisory Council on the Status of Women, etc. (#23.31-24.29, 26.1-26.4), contains correspondence and notes regarding Rawalt's appointment to a policy post in the Kennedy administration, transcripts of meetings, reports and related correspondence and notes. These materials relate both to general meetings of the President's Commission on the Status of Women and the meetings of the Civil and Political Rights Committee, of which Marguerite Rawalt was a member.Series V, National Organization for Women (#25.1-25.38, 27.13, 27.18, 36.1-36.2, 37.1-37.12, 37.14), contains chronological files containing correspondence and notes. Access requires the written permission of NOW. These materials demonstrate Marguerite Rawalt's role in the incorporation of NOW and her work as one of its first legal counsels. Files include NOW's founding documents and related materials, including early bylaws that Rawalt helped author, and memoranda and notes relating to obtaining NOW's tax exempt status. Rawalt also maintained early financial records for the group which are included with other administrative materials. Files on legal cases undertaken by Rawalt for the NOW Legal Committee are included here; see also Series VI for Rawalt's work on several cases that were taken up by the Legal Committee's successor, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. Access to folders containing materials protected by attorney-client privilege (#37.1-37.12, 37.14) requires written permission from client(s) and attorneys.Series VI, National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund (#26.5-26.11, 27.1-27.12, 27.14-27.17, 27.19-27.26, 36.3-36.4, 37.13, 37.15-37.16, 38.1-38.4), also contains chronological files and founding documents. In addition, it includes files on NOW LDEF court cases containing court documents, related correspondence, notes, and memoranda. Access to some legal case files requires the written permission of NOW LDEF.Series VII, Women's Equity Action League (#27.27-27.40, 28.1-28.27), contains historical and founding documents, administrative files, chronological files, and materials relating to Rawalt's participation on the WEAL Board of Directors. As Chair of the ERA Committee, Rawalt provided ERA Annual Reports to the WEAL Board (1971-1978). Documentation of Rawalt's legal work with WEAL is contained in Series VIII, WEAL Legal Defense and Educational Fund and WEAL Education and Legal Defense Fund.Series VIII, Women's Equity Action League Legal Defense and Education Fund/Women's Equity Action League Education and Legal Defense Fund (#28.28-29.26), contains founding documents, administrative and chronological files, and files relating to the Marguerite Rawalt Legal Defense Fund, a trust established to work on sex discrimination cases. Correspondence relating to the dissolution of the WEAL LDEF and the establishment of the WEAL ELDF are also included; files relating to the establishment of WEAL ELDF contain its articles of incorporation, which Rawalt drafted and was among the first to sign, and related materials. Access to WEAL records is governed by a legal agreement between WEAL and the Schlesinger Library: WEAL Fund minutes (#28.41-28.48) are restricted for 50 years from date of creation to those past national officers, board members, and executive directors who sign a special permission form; special permission form remains in use for an additional 20 years. In addition, WEAL Fund records in #28.36-28.37 and 28.49 are closed until January 1, 2026.Series IX, Equal Rights Amendment (#29.27-31.39), contains articles and talks about ERA by Marguerite Rawalt, subject files on "ERA History and Topics," and materials relating to Rawalt's work with ERAmerica, ERA Congressional Jubilee, and ERA Ratification Council. It also contains files on selected organizations' stands on ERA. Files on Title VII and jury service in this series seem to have been used in preparation for, or conjunction with, interviews for Columbia University's Oral History Research Office.Series X, Other Organizations (#31.40-33.22), contains files from Marguerite Rawalt's work with organizations not heretofore mentioned, arranged alphabetically: Assembly of Women's Organizations for National Security, D.C. Commission on the Status of Women, D.C. State Federation of Women's Clubs, General Federation of Women's Clubs, D.C. Coordinating Committee for International Women's Year, State Commissions on the Status of Women, United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Women United, Women's National Advisory Council, and Zonta.Series XI, Scrapbooks, Photographs (#32.23-35.12; PD.1-PD.87), contains scrapbooks and photographs documenting Marguerite Rawalt's personal and professional life.Most of the scrapbooks are arranged chronologically and include a variety of materials, including clippings, photographs, and correspondence. In addition to these chronological scrapbooks, Rawalt compiled several scrapbooks organized by subject; these document a 1954 B.P.W. luncheon held in Rawalt's honor, the topic of leadership and politics, the military career of her husband Harry Secord, her 1945-1946 presidency of the D.C. State Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, and a 1936 trip taken with her parents.Most of the scrapbooks were completely disbound, and the original order of the materials from these scrapbooks maintained. Clippings were photocopied and then discarded. Photographs and fragile materials were photocopied and then moved to separate housing. Fragile materials include scrapbook pages with Marguerite Rawalt's notes, telegrams, and other highly acidic paper. Non-fragile print material and original documents that could be removed from the scrapbook pages (i.e., event programs, greeting cards, and correspondence) remain in the collection. The single remaining, bound scrapbook (Folio+ Box 41) documents how the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Club raised funds for its headquarters in Washington, D.C.Photographs are arranged in four groupings: Portraits, Family, Friends; Professional; Business and Professional Women's Foundation; and Organizations.Portraits, family, friends, includes portraits of Marguerite Rawalt throughout her lifetime and are arranged chronologically. Portraits taken of Rawalt in a professional capacity are included in this sub-series; these photos, for example, were sometimes used for newspaper and magazine articles relating to BPW or publicity for Be Somebody. This sub-series also includes photographs from several of Rawalt's trips abroad and in the United States. Photographs of Rawalt's family are arranged chronologically; in addition, photographs of Rawalt's parents, Charles and Viola Rawalt, and of Rawalt's second husband, Harry Secord are included. Two bound volumes contain photographs taken between 1936 and 1938; many of them are of Rawalt and Secord on trips around the country as well as around their hometown, Washington, D.C.Professional, includes photographs from Rawalt's professional activities while an attorney at the Internal Revenue Service. Among these are several photographs with federal judge Florence E. Allen, with officers from the National Association of Women Lawyers and the Federal Bar Association. Finally, portraits with inscriptions to Rawalt are included in this sub-series; notable among these are portraits from Eleanor Roosevelt and the former governor of Texas Oscar B. Colquitt.Business and Professional Women's Foundation, contains photographs documenting Marguerite Rawalt's national and regional involvement in BPW organizations for more than thirty years. Included are photographs of Rawalt among fellow newly elected officers and her presentation of A History of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc. This sub-series also contains photographs of well-known speakers at BPW conventions, including Richard Nixon.Other organizations, includes photographs relating to governmental and political organizations with which Marguerite Rawalt was involved. Photographs relating to her work with the President's Commission on the Status of Women and the District of Columbia Commission on the Status of Women are included in this series; photographs documenting her later involvement with NOW, WEAL, and the ERA Ratification Council are also included in this series. Other groups represented in this sub-series are the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Woman's Party, and the National Association of Air Force Women. Finally, several photos from 1975 and 1977 International Women's Year receptions are included in this sub-series; these photos show Rawalt with colleagues from Zonta, WEAL, WEAL LDEF, NAWL, and George Washington University.Photocopies of magnetic photo albums were made in order to retain original order should photographs fall from the pages. Photocopies are numbered and identified whenever possible.Series XII, Oversize Materials and Ephemera (#39.1m-39.4+), contains a cardboard doll of Marguerite Rawalt, a gavel, a poster of Marguerite Rawalt and Florence Allen supporting the ERA in Hawaii, and portraits of Rawalt's grandparents Enoch and Caroline Miller Rawalt. This series also contains oversize materials moved from elsewhere in the collection, including maps that trace Rawalt's 1936 travel throughout the United States and 1956 travel through Germany.Folder headings are those of Marguerite Rawalt unless otherwise noted; archivist's headings and notes are in square brackets. Rawalt frequently used the label "Retains," apparently to indicate that a folder's contents were determined as significant in some way, then separated from their larger context, at once highlighting these files and making them more easily accessible. "Retains" may include correspondence, notes, and published and unpublished writing. One folder entitled "1960s mostly singles," containing outgoing letters from Marguerite Rawalt was disassembled. In some instances, these letters were duplicated in her chronological correspondence files; the remaining letters were filed in her chronological correspondence files.This collection contains both cataloged and uncataloged photographs. As mentioned above, snapshots included with correspondence are, for the most part, uncataloged. Undated or otherwise unidentified photographs are also uncataloged; many of these photographs are snapshots and group shots taken at BPW conventions and events. Uncataloged photographs are marked on their backs with an asterick in square brackets [*].Printed material by or about Marguerite Rawalt, as well as all printed material with Marguerite Rawalt's annotations, have been kept in the collection. See the separation record for a list of printed volumes that have been removed from the collection. Periodicals, reports, and other publications not by or about Marguerite Rawalt have also been removed.Audiovisual material of various meetings, events, and lectures has been separated from the collection and is housed separately as T-310 and Vt-125, reel 1. See the finding aid for T-310. Audiotapes include speeches by and interviews with Rawalt on a variety of topics, including women and the law, women's rights, and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The videotape features Alverno College's 1987 commencement exercises at which Marguerite Rawalt received an honorary degree and addressed the graduating class.
Donors: Marguerite Rawalt, Ruth Hestand RawaltAccession numbers: 76-82, 81-M283, 83-M34, 86-M48, 87-M181, 90-M129Processed by: Cheryl BeredoThe following items have been removed from the collection and placed in the Schlesinger Library book sale:
- 75 Year History of National Association of Women Lawyers (The first seventy-five years). Ed. Mary Zimmerman. Lansing, MI: Wellman Press, 1975.
- Selections. Aristotle. Ed. W.D. Ross. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1927.
- Lawyer in Petticoats. Farrow, Tiera. New York: Vantage Press, 1953.
- Holy Bible
- An Outline of the Bible Book by Book. Landis, Benson. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1963.
- History of the Zonta Club of Washintgon, D.C. 1922-1972. Latimer, Dortohy and A. Louise Eckburg. Washington, D.C.: Zonta, 1973.
- Spoon River Anthology. Masters, Edgar Lee. New York: Collier Books, 1966.
- New English Bible, New Testament
- Representative Opinions of Mr. Justice Holmes. Ed. Alfred Lief. New York: Vangaurd Press, 1931.
- The Study of Women: Enlarging Perspectives of Social Reality. Ed. Eloise C. Snyder. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.
- Odd Byways in American History. Warren, Charles. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1942.
- The Supreme Court in United States History, Volume 2, 1836-1918. Warren, Charles. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1937.
- Who's Who Among Women Lawyers. Ed. Fiona Hale Cook. Boston, 1939.
- Women Lawyers in the United States. Ed. Dorothy Thomas. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1957.