Midlife: Options for Women (Organization). Records of Midlife: Options for Women,
1981-1999: 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 Edward, Frances
and Shirley B. Daniels Fund, with additional support from Midlife: Options for Women.
Call No.: MC 536
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Midlife: Options for Women (Organization)
Title: Records of Midlife: Options for Women, 1981-1999
Quantity: 3.96 linear feet (9+1/2 file boxes) plus 7 photograph folders, 1 audiotape, 3 videotapes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Records of Midlife: Options for Women, a resource and support center for middle-aged
women, which sponsored discussion groups and seminars and published a newsletter.
Accession numbers: 99-M28, 2000-M2
The records of Midlife: Options for Women were given to the Schlesinger Library by
Midlife: Options for Women in March 1999, and by Joan Weiss in January 2000.
Processed: November 2006
By: Susan Earle
Access. Unrestricted, except that individual items throughout the collection are closed
as noted to protect personal privacy. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual
Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Midlife: Options for Women 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
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Midlife: Options for Women Records, 1981-1999; item description, dates. MC 536, folder
#. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Donor: Midlife: Options for Women
Accession Number: 99-M28
Processed by: Susan Earle
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Periodicals Department.
- Re:Sources: A Newsletter for Midlife and Older Women, 1985-1989
Midlife: Options for Women originated from discussions between social workers Joan
Weiss and Marybelle Cochran. In 1984, after leading an assertiveness training course
for women returning to the work place, Weiss and Cochran saw a need for a resource
and support center where middle-aged women could pool their experiences and expertise.
As they began talking about developing such a center and identifying areas of concern
for women in their middle years, the discussions grew to include other women: psychologist
Jean Mason, social workers Mimi Dohan and Elizabeth Cady, and Darlene Hopkins, a counselor
with Displaced Homemakers. The group's first meeting was held on November 7, 1985,
and the center, in Brookline, Massachusetts, opened on January 23, 1986, with a brown
bag lunch program on exercising for fitness and health. Later brown bag lunches focused
on finances, legal issues, housing, job searching, spirituality, and many other topics.
Midlife incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1988, and in 1989 held the first-ever
forum for midlife women, titled Self-esteem in Midlife. The organization held annual
forums from 1989 to 1993, with a final forum in 1996; the forums featured keynote
speakers, panel discussions, and morning and afternoon sessions on specific topics.
Keynote speakers included feminist and mystery novelist Carolyn Heilbrun (under the
name Amanda Cross), Judy Norsigian, a founding member of the Boston Women's Health
Book Collective, and writer Linda Weltner. In addition to the forums and brown bag
lunches, Midlife's activities included affiliated interest groups on job search strategies,
menopause, and other topics, a shared housing and resource exchange, daytime and evening
discussion and support groups, a Sunday brunch group, and a stock club. From 1986
to 1998, Midlife also published a newsletter, which had over 2000 subscribers. In
1998, due both to the increasing number of groups offering services to women in their
middle years and to a dwindling number of volunteers, the group disbanded.
The collection is arranged in six series:
- Series I. History and policy
- ___Subseries A. Policy
- ___Subseries B. Minutes
- ___Subseries C. Financial
- ___Subseries D. Office administration
- Series II. Membership
- Series III. Programs
- ___Subseries A. Forums
- ___Subseries B. Other programs
- Series IV. Correspondence
- Series V. Newsletters
- Series VI. Photographs
The collection documents Midlife's forums and other activities. It includes by-laws
and articles of organization, minutes, financial information, registration cards,
membership and mailing lists, correspondence, program planning materials, audio and
videotapes, photographs, and newsletters.
Most of the folder headings were created by the processor; Midlife's headings, when
used, appear in quotation marks. 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 parts of the documents they accompany;
they are marked on the back by an asterisk in square brackets [*]. A number of membership
forms and registration cards containing only generic information were weeded from
the collection. (Those membership forms which include members' programming interests
Series I, HISTORY AND POLICY, 1981-1999, n.d. (#1.1-3.22, F+D.1-F+D.2, T-333.1), is
divided into four subseries, described below. With the exception of Subseries B, they
are arranged chronologically.
Subseries A, Policy, 1981-1998, n.d. (#1.1-1.11, T-333.1), includes Midlife's articles
of organization and by-laws, as well as publicity on Midlife's early years and an
information sheet describing the organization's purpose and activities. For correspondence
about Midlife's incorporation, see #9.20 and 9.27. Also included are documents regarding
Midlife's dissolution and members' reactions to the organization's demise.
Subseries B, Minutes, 1985-1998 (#1.12-1.17), consists primarily of board meeting
minutes, but also includes minutes and reports for annual and policy meetings, as
well as the minutes of a retreat held in 1993. Topics include the professional training
and areas of expertise of founding members, possible collaborations with other women's
groups, early planning and goals, development of special sessions and groups, program
planning, evaluations of Midlife's past and present programming, and the possibility
of Midlfe's merging with another organization. The annual meeting minutes provide
an overview of Midlife's activities from 1991 to 1994, which included a brown bag
lunch focusing on reactions to the 1991 Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination
hearings. Policy meeting minutes include discussion of whether Midlife should sponsor
a conference; this discussion led to Midlife's annual forums. The subseries is arranged
with board meeting minutes appearing first.
Subseries C, Financial, 1986-1999, n.d. (#1.18-3.2, F+D.1-F+D.2), consists of budget
information, check registers, tax records, and itemized expense reports.
Subseries D, Office administration, 1985-1998, n.d. (#3.3-3.22), includes Midlife's
phone log and information on the lease of Midlife's office space and other administrative
matters, including some resource files and contacts. (The bulk of the phone log concerns
requests for information about Midlife; some requests for workshops on specific topics,
and offers to assist the organization in various ways, are also included.)
Series II, MEMBERSHIP, 1986-1998, n.d. (#3.23-5.6), consists primarily of mailing
and membership lists. Some information on issues in which members were interested,
ranging from empty nest syndrome to women's health to alternative lifestyles after
70, is included, as well as surveys and evaluations conducted by Midlife to ascertain
the success of its programming and goals. The series is arranged with evaluations,
surveys, and membership forms noting members' interests appearing first, followed
by membership and mailing lists.
Series III, PROGRAMS, 1983-1998, n.d. (#5.7-9.18, Vt-142.1-Vt-142.3), consists of
the two subseries described below.
Subseries A, Forums, 1986-1996, n.d. (#5.7-8.23, Vt-142.1), documents the day-long
events Midlife held between 1989 and 1996. (No forums were held in 1994 or 1995.)
Topics include health care, managing finances, and self-esteem. Included are planning
materials, expenses, evaluations, programs and registration forms, lists of registrants,
and information on speakers and individual sessions. The subseries is arranged with
information on individual forums appearing first, followed by general forum planning
Subseries B, Other programs, 1983-1998, n.d. (#8.24-9.18, Vt-142.2-Vt-142.3), documents
Midlife's brown bag lunch program, workshops on topics such as financial planning,
and interest groups focusing on special issues, such as menopause. This subseries
is arranged chronologically.
Series IV, CORRESPONDENCE, 1982-1998, n.d. (#9.19-9.27), includes requests for information
about Midlfe; letters and resumes from women suggesting programs and offering their
services to Midlife; letters asking if Midlife had centers in other parts of the country;
correspondence regarding Midlife's administration; and letters and poems by Janice
Gail Knowlton, author of Daddy Was the Black Dahlia Killer. In many letters, women express their happiness at learning that a group like Midlife
exists, and report difficulties and frustrations encountered since reaching middle
age. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series V, NEWSLETTERS, 1986-1998, n.d. (#9.28-10.2), consists of issues of Midlife's
newsletter, which was published three times a year and included an advice column,
a "Connections" page, which listed meeting times and topics for Midlife's various
groups, book and movie reviews, short pieces by new board members, articles about
the forums, poems, and other short articles. Some background material is also included
in the series. A master set of newsletters is closed to research (#10.1-10.2); the
run is incomplete. To use Midlife's newsletter, researchers should consult Schlesinger
Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1991-1994, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.7), consists of images of Midlife's
founders and board members, as well as forum speakers and participants, and other
individuals associated with Midlife.
- Series I. HISTORY AND POLICY
- Subseries A. History and policy
- 1.1. Publicity, 1981-1994, n.d.; includes "An Introduction to Midlife: Options for Women;"
New Choices article about Midlife; Jean Goldberg articles and correspondence; Midlife brochure
and uncataloged photograph.
- 1.2. Statement of purpose, 1985
- 1.3. "Album": articles and letters, 1985-1986, including re: founding of Midlife
- T-333.1. "Midlife: Options for Women--discussion of goals," plans for future of Midlife, requirements
for status as non-profit organization, possibility of becoming a collective, 1986,
REQUEST AS T-333, reel 1.
- 1.4. Articles of organization, by-laws and amendments, 1987-1992, n.d.
See also #9.20 and 9.27.
- 1.5. Proposed board reorganization for 1986-1987 fiscal year, n.d.
- 1.6. Board of directors lists, 1988-1998, n.d.
- 1.7. Survey of board members, 1991
- 1.8. Proposed procedure for new directors of Midlife, 1992
- 1.9. 10-year anniversary mailing, 1994
- 1.10. Dissolution of Midlife, 1998; includes letter announcing dissolution, articles of
dissolution and background documents.
- 1.11. Letters from members regarding Midife's dissolution, 1998
- Subseries B. Minutes
- 1.12-1.13. "Center for mid-life and older women" board meeting minutes, 1985-1992; includes information
on training and areas of expertise of founding members, discussions of possible collaborations
with other women's groups, early planning and goals, and development of special sessions
- 1.14. Board meeting minutes, 1992-1998; includes program planning and evaluations of Midlife's
past and present.
- 1.15. Annual reports and meeting minutes, 1987, 1991-1994
- 1.16. Minutes of Midlife retreat, 1993
- 1.17. Policy meetings, 1986-1992; includes notes and commentary re: issue of Midlife sponsoring
a conference, resulting in first forum (1989).
- Subseries C. Financial
- 1.18. Annual budgets, 1986-1992, n.d.
See also #5.8.
- 2.1-2.2. Photocopies of #F+D.1-F+D.2, 1986-1994
- 2.3. "Disbursements, expenditures, receipts, reconciliations": Midlife ledger sheets, 1986-1998
- 2.4-2.9. Check registers, 1986-1999
- 2.10. State incorporation and tax exempt status: renewals, 1987-1993.
See also #9.27.
- 2.11. Taxes: state, 1987-1998
- 2.12. "Budget: bills," expenses for conferences and forums, 1989-1996
- 2.13. "Workshops and SHARE" expenses, 1991-1992
- 2.14. Tax records, 1991-1994
- 2.15. Itemized income/expense reports, 1992-1994
- 2.16. Financial report, 1993
- 2.17. Register listing, 1994
- 2.18. "Itemized category report," 1996
- 3.1. "Expense vs. income analysis," 1996
- 3.2. Bookkeeping procedures, n.d.
- Subseries D. Office administration
- 3.3. "Holidays/loneliness" resource file, 1985-1986, n.d.
- 3.4-3.8. Phone log, primarily requests for information, some requests for workshops or groups
on specific topics, and offers to assist the organization in various ways, 1985-1998
- 3.9. "Community fund": rent, 1987-1988
- 3.10. Drafts of new policy for newsletter mailing, 1989?
- 3.11. "Contractual service agreements": bookkeeper and office coordinator, 1990-1991
- 3.12. Referral list, 1991
- 3.13. Agreement for printing costs, 1992
- 3.14. Reading lists, n.d.
- 3.15-3.16. Card file: resources, n.d.
- 3.17. Job description for Midlife: Options for Women (for office volunteers?), n.d.
- 3.19. Human service agencies and groups, n.d.
- 3.20. Resource list for career counseling and information, n.d.
- 3.21. Memorandum of understanding re: mail service, n.d.
- Series II. MEMBERSHIP
- 3.23. Members' interests and requests, n.d.
- 3.24. Evaluations of Midlife programs, 1986-1987
- 3.25. Midlife survey, 1997, n.d.
- 4.1. "Survey ranking categories for resource files," n.d.
- 4.2. Membership forms (blank), n.d.
- 4.3-4.5. Membership and subscription forms with notes about members' newsletter and programming
interests, 1992-1998, n.d.
- 4.6. Registration cards (for forums?) with notes about members' interests, 1992-1994, n.d.
- 4.7. "Examples of membership letters," n.d.
- 4.8-4.12. Membership lists, 1987-1998, n.d.
- 4.13. Membership list: "office copy for brown bag," 1995
- 4.14. "Memberships expiring," 1995-1996
- 4.15. Membership and mailing list corrections, n.d.
- 4.16. Names and addresses, 1989
- 4.17. Mailing list, January 1, 1986
- 4.18. Mailing list, August 1, 1989
- 4.19. Mailing list, July, 1990
- 4.20-5.3. Mailing lists, 1992-1993, n.d. (4 folders)
- 5.4. "Complete mailing list," 1993
- 5.5. "Mailing list for January 23 meeting," n.d.
- 5.6. Mailing list samples, n.d.
- Series III. PROGRAMS
- Subseries A. Forums
- 5.7. 1989 forum: Self-esteem in Women: Thriving in Midlife, 1987-1989
- 5.8. Budget and fundraising process notes for 1989 forum, n.d.
- 5.9-5.10. Evaluations, 1989
- 5.11. "Master list" of 1989 forum attendees, potential corporate sponsors, 1986-1989, n.d.
- 5.12. Registration form and brochure, 1989
- 5.13. Summary of evaluations, 1989
- 6.2. 1990 forum: Resilience in Midlife: The Challenge of Change, 1989-1991
- 6.3. Continuing education, 1990
- 6.4. Correspondence re: 1990 forum, 1989-1990
- 6.5. Forum co-sponsorship agreement: Midlife, Pine Manor College Continuing Education Program,
and Brookline Adult and Community Education, 1990
- 6.6. "Master list" of forum attendees, registration form and brochure, schedule, 1990
- 6.7. Summary of evaluations, workshop bibliographies, 1990
- 6.8. Workshop leaders: resumes and workshop descriptions, 1990
- 6.9. 1991 forum: Strengthening Connections at Midlife, 1991
- 6.11. Carolyn Heilbrun, keynote speaker, 1990-1991; includes keynote address.
- 6.12. Continuing education: collaborative of National Association of Social Workers and
Boston College and Simmons College Schools of Social Work, 1991
- 6.13. Correspondence, 1990-1992
- 6.15. Expenses, individual workshop evaluation forms (blank), information for volunteers,
- 6.16. Registration form, schedule, summary of evaluations, workshop development forms, 1991
- 6.17. 1992 forum: Surviving--Celebrating--Moving On, 1992, n.d.
Includes reference copy of photograph; original in #PD.5.
- 6.19. Continuing education: collaborative of National Association of Social Workers and
Boston College and Simmons College Schools of Social Work, Massachusetts Nurses Association,
- 6.20. Correspondence, 1991-1992; includes forum report.
- 7.2. Expenses and estimated income, 1992
- 7.3. Final list of volunteers, 1992
- 7.4. Information on workshop leaders, 1991-1992
- 7.6. Publicity: Linda Weltner, 1992 keynote speaker, 1988-1989, n.d.; includes uncataloged
Also reference copy of photograph; original in #PD.5.
- 7.7. "Registrants with workshops attending," 1992
- 7.8. Registration form and flyer, session: Gaining Control of Your Finances and Accumulating
Wealth, summary of evaluations, 1992
- 7.9. 1993 forum: Women's Health Care: New Perspectives, 1993.
Includes references copies of photographs; originals in #PD.5.
- 7.10. Attendance certificate, brochure and registration form proofs, 1993, n.d.
- 7.11. Attendees and individual registration cards, 1993
- 7.12. Continuing education, 1993
- 7.13. Correspondence, 1992-1993
- 8.2. Income/expense report, budget, 1993
- 8.3. "Packets" (assembly instructions), 1993
- 8.4. Planning meetings, 1992
- 8.5. "Planning time frame," n.d.
- 8.7. Registration form, 1993
- 8.8. Summary of forum evaluations, workshop leaders' information forms and resumes, workshop
- 8.9. 1996 forum: New Pathways for Women in Changing Times, 1996
- 8.10. Attendees and certificate of attendance, 1996
- 8.11-8.12. Continuing education application and workshop descriptions, 1995-1996
- 8.13. Correspondence, 1995-1996
- 8.14. Co-sponsorship agreement: Midlife and Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change,
- Vt-142.1. "FYI/YOP Midlife Options for Women," promotional information for 1996 forum, February
1996. 5 minutes.
REQUEST AS Vt-142, reel 1.
- 8.16. Income and expenses, 1996
- 8.17. Publicity, 1995-1996
- 8.18. Registration form, program, and summary of evaluations, 1996
- 8.19. "General forum materials: possible speakers," 1986-1987
- 8.20. "Past forum expenses" and budgets, 1989-1996, n.d.
- 8.21. Proposals for future forums, 1992
- 8.22. Telephone survey re: proposed forum on health care, n.d.
- 8.23. Timelines for forum planning, n.d.
- Subseries B. Other programs
- 8.24. Stock club, 1983-1990?
- 8.25. Information on past programming, 1985-1986
- 9.1. First year programs, 1986
- 9.2. Brown bag flyers, handouts, list of 1987 programming, 1986-1987, 1998, n.d.; includes
- 9.3. Brown bag sign up sheets, mailing list, 1986-1996, n.d.
- 9.4. Nancy Penhone: financial planning workshop, 1986-1987; includes correspondence and
- 9.5. Focus group and workshop reports, 1986-1998; includes Images of Midlife Women in Film.
- 9.6. "Newcomers: Sunday Group and New Life Styles" member lists and schedules, 1987
- 9.7. Workshop and group ideas, 1987-1990, n.d.; includes flyer for Passion and Purpose:
Creating a Road Map for your Later Years workshop and registration form for Lyle Warner's
Midlife Transition Discussion Group.
- 9.8. Midlife programs (programs by other organizations), 1987-1994, n.d.
- 9.9. Resumes and cover letters: potential workshop and program leaders, 1987-1995, n.d.
- 9.10. SHARE (Shared Housing Alternatives and Resource Exchange) meeting, 1989-1990, n.d.
- 9.11. "Save the Date" examples, 1989, 1992
- 9.12. Advocacy Center for Older (40+) Women: possible collaboration with Midlife, 1990-1992,
- 9.13. Women Working Alone at Midlife group, 1992
- 9.14. Joan Fox forum: Women at the Crossroads, 1995
- 9.15. "Living Richly in Boston on Limited Resources": presentation, 1997
- Vt-142.2. "About Women Realizing Ourselves #24: Joan Weiss and Joyce Foster," April 7, 1997.
REQUEST AS Vt-142, reel 2.
- Vt-142.3. Midlife: final dinner, 1998.
REQUEST AS Vt-142, reel 3.
- 9.16. "Women interested in forming groups on particular topics," n.d.; includes "people
interested in following up on single payer system."
- 9.17. Political involvement workshop: notes, n.d.
- 9.18. Current activities, n.d.
- Series IV. CORRESPONDENCE
- 9.19. Correspondence, 1982-1998, n.d.; includes uncataloged photograph.
- 9.20. "Correspondence and notes," 1990
- 9.21. Gregory, Julia, re: incorporation of Midlife, 1986-1988
- 9.22. Health care letter sent by Midlife board, 1993
- 9.23. Johnston, Mary, re: Midlife support group on divorce, 1991
- 9.24. Letters from Midlife re: newsletter subscription and membership, 1994
- 9.25. "Responses to New Choices article": requests for information about Midlife, 1994-1995
- 9.26. "Responses to New Choices article": detailed letters, 1994-1996, n.d.; includes Janice Gail Knowlton.
- 9.27. Warner, Alice Louise, re: Midlife's incorporation and tax exempt status, 1986
- Series V. NEWSLETTERS
- 9.28. First newsletter (proof), 1986
- 9.29. "Items for newsletter?" 1992, 1996, n.d.
Includes reference copies of photographs; originals in #PD.5.
- 9.30. Newsletter: timetable, n.d.
- 9.31. Newsletter subscription acknowledgement, n.d.
- 10.1-10.2. Master file: Midlife: Options for Women Newsletter, 1987-1998.
CLOSED TO RESEARCH. Consult Schlesinger Library periodicals for reference copies.
- Series VI. PHOTOGRAPHS
FILED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS.
- PD.1. "Marybelle Cochran,Mimi Dohan, and Joan Weiss: the three women who started Midlife,"
n.d. (2 photographs)
- PD.2. "Third annual forum," 1991; includes Carolyn Heilbrun, Joan Weiss, Lyle Warner, and
Linda Weltner. (26 photographs)
- PD.3. Midlife board: Joan Weiss and "Estelle, Lyle, Tigg, Gen, Mimi, Marybelle, Betsy,"
1992, 1994 (4 photographs)
- PD.4. Photographs, 1992-1994, n.d.; includes 1992 forum, Joan Weiss, and Julia Gregory.
- PD.5. Photographs from #6.17, #7.6, #7.9, and #9.29 (10 photographs)
- PD.6. "Negatives of photographs at Marybelle's," summer, 1992
- PD.7. Negatives of Midlife founders and members, n.d.
Forums (Discussion and debate)--Massachusetts
Women--Societies and clubs
Workshops (Adult education)--United States
Heilbrun, Carolyn G., 1926-2003
Knowlton, Janice, 1937-2004
Weltner, Linda R., 1938-