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MC 753, T-486

Quest: A Feminist Quarterly. Records of Quest: A Feminist Quarterly, 1970-1985: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1957.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 753, T-486
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Quest: A Feminist Quarterly
Title: Records of Quest: A Feminist Quarterly, 1970-1985
Date(s): 1970-1985
Quantity: 15.64 linear feet (33+1/2 file boxes, 1 oversize box) plus 2 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 3 photograph folders, 76 audiotapes, 3 objects)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Articles, minutes, correspondence, business and financial records, retreat materials, audiotapes, t-shirts, and banners of Quest: A Feminist Quarterly

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 85-M65, 2001-M48
The records of Quest: A Feminist Quarterly were given to the Schlesinger Library by Delores Cole in March 1985, with an additional donation in March 2001 by Susan Hester, in memory of Mary-Helen Mautner (1944-1989), whose papers these were.

Processing Information:

Processed: September 2013
By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Emily Underwood.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Quest: A Feminist Quarterly 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.

Preferred Citation:

Quest: A Feminist Quarterly Records, 1970-1985; item description, dates. MC 753, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material: Charlotte Bunch Papers, 1967-1985 (85-M30--85-M66), Charlotte Bunch Additional papers, 1950-1988 (87-M149--88-M18), and Charlotte Bunch Additional papers, ca.1944-2010 (MC 708).


Donor: Delores Cole
Accession number: 85-M65
Processed by: Susan Earle
The following item has been removed from the collection and transferred to the audiovisual collection of Naomi Weisstein at the Schlesinger Library:


Quest, A Feminist Quarterly, Inc., was founded in 1973 by Charlotte Bunch, Dolores Bargowski, Mary Helen Mautner, Emily Medvec, Juanita Weaver, and others, in Washington, DC. Many of these women had been involved with The Furies, a feminist lesbian newspaper published from 1972 to 1973, or with the Women's Center or Rape Crisis Center; all shared a history of political activism and a sense of the importance of lesbian feminism, class, and power to feminist ideology. The women had begun meeting as a study group in 1972, looking for ways to further the women's movement's political development, with the original focus being more on movement building than on the production of a journal. The quarterly was aimed primarily at women's movement organizers, theorists, and analysts, but the intended audience also included women wanting to learn more about the women's movement, and people involved in other areas of activism (political, economic, etc.) The journal was a forum for feminist writers and artists, with most issues focusing on a particular theme, such as "The Body Politic," "Race, Class & Culture," or "International Feminism." A book of articles, Building Feminist Theory: Essays from Quest, was published in 1981.
The majority of the staff were unpaid, although two positions were funded for a time by the Institute for Policy Studies, and most worked full-time at other jobs while volunteering at Quest. The quarterly faced considerable financial difficulties, with budget constraints resulting in the production of only one issue a year in 1979, 1980, and 1981. Among the difficulties was the fact that the largely unpaid staff did not have much time to dedicate to publicity and promotion. Some internal tension also developed over Quest's goals and the roles different staff members played within the organization. Publication was suspended with the 1982 issue "Movement Building," although at that time at least one additional issue was planned. In 1983 there was the possibility of Varied Voices: A Lesbian Publishing Collective or Off Our Backs taking over from Quest but neither of these plans came to fruition. Quest disbanded in 1984.


The collection is arranged in two series:


This collection documents Quest's work to produce a quarterly feminist journal, and includes article drafts; notes re: articles and development of journal issues; correspondence with authors (including rejection letters); meeting minutes; office manuals and material re: office administration and staff retreats; financial records (including tax returns); fundraising materials and grant applications; brochures; audiotapes; t-shirts; and banners. The bulk of the folder headings were created by the processor; those created by Quest staff appear in quotation marks. The processor maintained the original order of the material whenever possible. The majority of the records were given to the Schlesinger Library by Delores Cole in 1985; in 2001, Susan Hester donated a small amount of additional material (minutes and material re: Building Feminist Theory: Essays from Quest, in honor of her partner, Mary-Helen Mautner (1944-1989). The Schlesinger Library has a complete run of Quest: A Feminist Quarterly; consult HOLLIS, the library's online catalog, for issues.
Series I, ADMINISTRATION AND PUBLICITY, 1970-1985 (#1.1-10.9, FD.1, OD.1, 35OB.1m-35OB.9m, Mem.1+ - Mem.3+, PD.1-PD.3, T-486.1 - T-486.60), includes correspondence; statements of purpose and ownership; articles of incorporation; meeting minutes; financial records; office manuals; audiotapes, agendas, and notes from several retreats that Quest held; audiotapes of a class on feminist theory taught or attended by Quest staff and of conferences at which staff members presented. Additional material includes staff job descriptions and vitas and audiotapes of staff orientations; grant proposals; correspondence related to Quest's legal and subscription difficulties caused by other magazines using variations of the name "Quest"; and fundraising and publicity materials. The series also includes several t-shirts commemorating feminist organizations and causes and banners with slogans supporting lesbian and gay rights. Of particular note are the material regarding the possible future of Quest, including negotiations with Varied Voices and Off Our Backs, and the decision to dissolve the organization (#1.6-1.9, 1.11, 1.14), and the minutes (#6.21-8.6), which provide a revealing look at Quest's weekly activities. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, PUBLICATIONS 1972-1984 (#10.10-34.5, FD.2, F+D.1-F+D.2, T-486.61 - T-486.76), includes articles, audiotapes of planning discussions and of interviews of feminist activists, correspondence with authors, rejection letters, reports to readers (describing Quest's operations and goals), assessments of articles, letters to the editor, and notes and memos regarding theme development, layout, and issue planning for all 20 published issues and for an additional issue titled "Designing the Future" which was apparently never produced. The series also includes general correspondence re: the publication of Quest: A Feminist Quarterly; author contracts; editing stylesheets and audiotapes of editing workshops and discussions; apparently unsolicited articles; and correspondence, contracts, and publicity for Building Feminist Theory: Essays from Quest. In addition the series includes readers' surveys (#12.17-13.6), which provide information about the genders, sexual preferences, living situations, ages, jobs, educations, and interests of Quest readers; the survey also invites readers to describe why they subscribe to Quest and the type of material they would like to see in future issues. Of particular note are #22.11 and #23.1, in which Quest readers urge Quest to embrace strikingly different philosophies. 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 [*].

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Articles of incorporation
Business records
Feminist theory
Financial records
Lesbian activists
Lesbian authors
Lesbian feminist theory
Male domination (Social structure)
Manuscripts for publication
Readership surveys
Second-wave feminism
Sex discrimination against women
Tax records
Women authors
Women-owned business enterprises--United States
Women's rights--United States
Adams, Carol J.
Arnold, June, 1926-
Austen, Hallie Iglehart
Bar On, Bat-Ami, 1948-
Brown, Rita Mae
Bunch, Charlotte, 1944-
Chicago, Judy, 1939-
Córdova, Jeanne
Crater, Flora
Deming, Barbara, 1917-1984
Ehrlich, Carol
Eichellberger, Brenda, 1939-
Eisenstein, Zillah R.
Elshtain, Jean Bethke, 1941-
Enloe, Cynthia H., 1938-
Fisher, Beverly Delores
Flax, Jane
Flowers, Sandra Hollin, 1946-
Freeman, Jo
Game, Ann
Hanmer, Jalna
Hartsock, Nancy C. M.
Heide, Wilma Scott, 1921-1985
Hunter, Nan D.
Joan, Polly
Kollias, Karen
Landes, Joan B., 1946-
Landrine, Hope, 1954-
Lorde, Audre
McNaron, Toni A. H.
Markusen, Ann R.
Mathiot, Elizabeth Moen
Milkman, Ruth, 1954-
Miller, Elaine, 1939-
Morton, Nelle, 1905-1987
Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund (Seattle, Wash.)
Phelps, Linda
Pheterson, Gail, 1948-
Polikoff, Nancy D.
Pringle, Rosemary
Rothman, Lorraine
Schwarcz, Vera, 1947-
Smith, Barbara, 1946-
Sommers, Tish
Sparks, Caroline H. (Caroline Heyward)
Spelman, Elizabeth V.
St. Joan, Jacqueline, 1945-
Trebilcot, Joyce
Urdang, Stephanie
Weaver, Juanita
Weinbaum, Batya
Whitlock, Kay
Wyland, Francie
Yevick, Miriam Lipschutz