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MC 311

Women's Equity Action League. Records of the Women's Equity Action League, 1966-1979: A Finding Aid

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


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
December 1981

Revised April 2004

Updated October 2009

© 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 311
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Women's Equity Action League
Title: Records of the Women's Equity Action League, 1966-1979
Quantity: 5.54 linear feet (3 cartons, 1 file box, 1/2 file box, 2 folio boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Records of the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), a national membership organization with state affiliates, founded in 1968 and dedicated to improving the status and lives of all women primarily through education, litigation, and legislation.

Processing Information:

Processed: December 1981 ; revised April 2004
By: Katherine Gray Kraft, Zephorene L. Stickney
Updated: October 2009
By: Katherine Gray Kraft

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 75-52, 75-62, 75-80, 75-83, 75-200, 75-201, 75-238, 76-90, 76-320, 76-342, 77-M5J 79-M126, 79-M135, 79-M165, 86-M26
The records of the Women's Equity Action League were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Women's Equity Action League national office and by Jane Robens,Nancy Dowding, Laurine Fitzgerald,Elizabeth Boyer,Leslie Gladstone,Norma Raffel,Loraine Grant,Paula Treder, and Bert Hartry between 1975 and 1979, and in 1986. The records were processed under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (#79-4). Series I-IV and XI were transferred to MC 500 (WEAL Records, 1967-1990) in March 2004.


Access. The agreement between the Library and WEAL signed in 1974 was revised in 1978, and again in 1981. WEAL dissolved in 1989. Most of the restrictions on research use have now expired. Access to the membership records (#191-202, and folio boxes 5 and 6) is restricted to those past national officers, board members, and executive directors who sign a special permission form until August 1, 2029. In addition, #204 is closed until January 1, 2026.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright in records created by WEAL is to be determined. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Records in open files may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures; restricted records may not be photocopied. The library may make copies of open documents, upon request, for deposit in other institutions, so long as credit is given to WEAL as the source of the documents.

Preferred citation for publication:

Women's Equity Action League Records, 1966-1979; item description, dates. MC 311, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Records of the Women's Equity Action League, 1967-1990 (MC 500) and Women's Equity Action League Audiotapes, 1973-1987 (T-126).


The Women's Equity Action League was a national membership organization, with state chapters and divisions, founded in 1968 and dedicated to improving the status and lives of all women primarily through education, litigation, and legislation. Its sister organization, the WEAL Fund, was incorporated in 1972 "to help secure legal rights for women and to carry on educational and research projects on sex discrimination." The Fund was not a membership organization, and under federal tax law, as a 501(c)3 organization, could not engage in legislative activities. The two organizations merged in 1981 (see WEAL Records, MC 500), following changes in the tax code.
WEAL had its beginnings in Cleveland, Ohio. Objecting to the National Organization for Women's (NOW) support of women's right to abortion, as well as to NOW's tactics of picketing and demonstrating in pursuit of its goals, Elizabeth ("Betty") Boyer and other Ohio members of NOW founded WEAL in 1968. Boyer, first national president, explained why and how WEAL was organized (see MC 500, #1.27):
"In 1966 and earlier many of us saw a need for concentrated activity in the women's rights area. We saw a need for an organization that would coordinate other organizations and concentrate on economic advancement for women...To explore the possibilities, we asked Martha Griffiths to come to speak in the spring of 1968. Nearly 300 persons came. From this attendance list we circulated a letter inquiring whether they would be interested in an organization such as WEAL. The response was encouraging."
"We held several small planning meetings that summer and by autumn we had lined up nearly a hundred members, mostly Clevelanders. In October we held an incorporating meeting to apply for corporate status as an Ohio nonprofit corporation. In early November the actual incorporation took place."
WEAL's stated purposes were the following:
The following brief chronology for 1968-1979 combines information from Betty Boyer (prepared for the 1975 convention) and various WEAL publications. Addenda in the WEAL Records (MC 500) contains national newsletters, as well as Board minutes and mailings, that are excellent sources of detailed information.



The collection is arranged in six series:


In 1981, under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (#79-4), archivists Katherine Kraft and Zephorene Stickney processed the records given to the library by WEAL between 1975 and 1979. Records relating to the founding of WEAL, including by-laws; minutes and other papers pertaining to annual and board meetings; other administrative records; mailings, publications, speeches, and clippings, all originally contained in this archive, were transferred to the larger body of WEAL and WEAL Fund records received by the Library between 1980 and 1998, and processed in March 2004 (see WEAL Records, MC 500). Correspondence with officers, board members, government officials, state chapter and division presidents, and the general public; committee and membership records; and photographs (#230), remain in this collection. For audiotapes, see T-126.
The WEAL records were given to the Schlesinger Library by a number of individuals and the national office; filing practices varied greatly. A large proportion of the archive was not in folders; existing folders were not always labeled correctly. In 1981, the archivists created eleven series. In March 2004, Series I-IV and Series XI were integrated into WEAL Records (MC 500). Series V-X and their respective folders, consisting mostly of correspondence, were left intact to facilitate citation tracking. The six remaining series are described more fully below.
Series V, NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD (#48-49), is a short series that consists almost entirely of correspondence with and about prospective advisory board members.
Series VI, OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE; ACTIONS (#50-97, 203-207, 230), includes correspondence files of the national office, integrated with those of Betty Boyer, Nancy Dowding, Laurine Fitzgerald, Leslie Gladstone, Loraine Grant, Bert Hartry, Norma Raffel, Jane Robens, and Paula Treder, to create the first part of this series. Correspondents include board members, officers (national and state), government officials, et al. The arrangement is generally chronological. Included are several folders of correspondence removed from the "Resource File," WEAL's alphabetical reference file that consisted almost entirely of published materials (transferred to the Library's book division); they retain their original folder headings, and have been added in chronological sequence. Folders containing correspondence and notes for which original restrictions have expired (#203, 205-207) were added to the finding aid in October 2009; #204 is closed until January 1, 2026. The Actions files consist mainly of correspondence; they were designated "Actions" by the WEAL national office. Original folder headings have been retained. There is also one folder of photographs (#230), originally listed as part of Series XI (which no longer exists).
Series VII, CORRESPONDENCE WITH STATE CHAPTERS AND DIVISIONS (#98-123), contains national office files; the original order was retained.
Series VIII, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE (#124-131), contains inquiries re: WEAL, sex discrimination, the women's movement, and related topics. The archivist selected a representative sample of letters requesting copies of publications but containing no other information about the author; more than 50 such letters from libraries, other institutions, and individuals were discarded.
Series IX, COMMITTEES (#132-191), combines the correspondence, leaflets, and related papers of standing and ad hoc committees in one alphabetical sequence. For most of the committees, documentation is sparse. Records may still be held by past or present committee chairs. Membership committee records are in Series X. For the education committees, see Education (#139-140), College Action (#134), Federal Contract Compliance on Education (FCCE files of Bernice "Bunny" Sandler, chair, #147-160), and Higher Education (#163-164). The Help-Wanted Ads Committee (#161-162) was established in 1972, and consists of Paula Treder's correspondence; see Legal Committee (#171-174) for earlier correspondence on the subject. The International Women's Years files (#166-170) are those of Bert Hartry.
Search note: There is no correspondence index for the WEAL archive. However, with the exception of WEAL officers and board members, the names of selected correspondents can be searched using the "search this finding aid" feature. In addition to those WEAL leaders whose names appear in the additional catalog entries at the end of this finding aid, the following WEAL leaders (including active members) have extensive correspondence in this collection: Daryl J. Bem, Sandra L. Bem, Barbara R. Bergman, Carolyn Bishop, Carol Brocato, Mildred Bulpitt, Patricia Calkins, Christine Candela, Christine Y. Conaway, Arlene Kaplan Daniels, Nancy E. Dowding, Lucy H. Draper, Dorothy Fuldheim, Lela S. Gilbert, Wanda W. Ginner, Barbara W. Glenn, Phyllis Hamm, Rebecca Thacker Halbrook, Vilma R. Hunt, Phineas Indritz, Marsha King, Frances M. Kompare, Paula Latimer, Margaret A. Leister, Judith L. Lichtman, Lizabeth A. Moody, Frances S. Norris, Mary V. O'Connor, Jane Picker, Sandi Risser, Leila Sullivan, Betty Wright.



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.
Abzug, Bella
Affirmative action programs
Associations, institutions, etc.
Baum, Jessie
Bird, Caroline
Boyer, Elizabeth
Burroughs-Grossman, Carol
Dowding, Nancy Elsie, 1924-
Dresselhuis, Ellen
East, Catherine, 1916-1996
Equal rights amendments
Feminism--United States
Fields, Daisy B.
Fitzgerald, Laurine E.
Fraser, Arvonne S.
Gates, Margaret
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader
Gladstone, Leslie
Glaser, Vera
Goodwin, Carolyn
Grant, Loraine
Green, Edith, 1910-1987
Griffiths, Martha W. (Martha Wright), 1912-2003
Hartry, Bert, 1929-2015
Heckler, Margaret
Help-wanted advertising--United States
Holmes, Olive
International Women's Year, 1975
King, Jean L.
Koontz, Elizabeth D. (Elizabeth Duncan), 1919-1989
Overton, Ellen S., 1925-
Parr, Carol, 1941-
Polowy, Carolyn
Raffel, Norma K.
Rawalt, Marguerite, 1895-1989
Robens, Jane
Sandler, Bernice Resnick
Seward, Doris
Sex discrimination--United States
Sex discrimination in consumer credit--United States
Sex discrimination in education--United States
Sex discrimination in employment--United States
Sex discrimination in insurance--United States
Sex role--United States
Theodore, Athena
Thornton, Eileen, 1942-
Treder, Paula, 1925-
Truax, Anne Thorsen
Wade, Betsy
Weal Fund
Women--Education (Higher)
Young, Margaret M.
Zatlin, Phyllis, 1938-