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MC 871

Cooper, Sandi E.. Papers of Sandi E. Cooper, 1969-1988: 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

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 871
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Cooper, Sandi E.
Title: Papers of Sandi E. Cooper, 1969-1988
Date(s): 1969-1988
Quantity: 1.46 linear feet (3+1/2 file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Photocopies of trial briefs, depositions, trial transcripts from a 1984 sex discrimination case against Sears, Roebuck & Co. in which Sandi E. Cooper, history professor, testified.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 86-M39. Accession numbers 87-M49, 93-M61, 96-M161, 2006-M87, 2010-M114, 2014-M180 were added to the collection in January 2017.
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Sandi E. Cooper between March 1986 and November 2014.

Processing Information:

Processed: December 1986
By: Anne Engelhart
Updated and additional materials added: January 2017
By: Mark Vassar

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Sandi E. Cooper 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:

Sandi E. Cooper Papers, 1969-1988; item description, dates. MC 871, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


A professor of history at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, Sandi E. Cooper collected these papers because of her interest in the case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Sears, Roebuck and Company.
The plaintiff charged Sears with discrimination in two main categories of employment, claiming that women were underrepresented in high-paying commission sales jobs, and that there were disparate salary rates for men and women in certain managerial and administrative positions (so-called "checklist" employees). Sears maintained that the government's statistics did not prove discrimination, and disputed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission assumption that male and female applicants were equally qualified for and interested in commission sales positions. To bolster their respective arguments, the litigants brought in two prominent feminist historians: Rosalind Rosenberg testified for Sears and Alice Kessler-Harris for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They presented conflicting interpretations of women's attitudes toward work and the relative importance of workers' and employers' roles in shaping patterns of employment by sex. The case was tried in 1984 and 1985 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, and in early 1986 Judge John A. Nordberg ruled in favor of Sears.
For further information on the case, see "Women's History Goes to Trial: EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck and Company," with an introduction by Sandi E. Cooper, in Signs 11 (summer 1986); and Ruth Milkman, "Women's History and the Sears Case," in Feminist Studies 12 (summer 1986).


This collection consists of photocopies of trial briefs, depositions, trial transcripts, and the ruling by John A. Nordberg; also included are typescript and manuscript notes by Sandi E. Cooper, and clippings about the lawsuit, 1979-1986. Copies of these documents are also available at the Women's Center, Barnard College. Additional material (accession numbers 87-M49--2014-M180) was added to the collection in January 2017. This material is located in folders #24-34. It consists of additional court documents as well as clippings and articles regarding the case, including drafts of "Women's History Goes on Trial: EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck and Company" and "Women's History and the Sears Case." Also included are files on a sex equity case, Melani et al. v. the Board of Higher Education (City University of New York), and material gathered by Cooper during her involvement with several women historians organizations. Folder headings and the order of files are generally those of the donor (see #1).


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Actions and defenses--Cases
Discrimination in employment--United States
Labor laws and legislation--Cases
Sex discrimination against women--United States
Sex discrimination in employment--United States
Sex role in the work environment--United States
Women--Employment--United States.
Kessler-Harris, Alice
Rosenberg, Rosalind, 1946-
Sears, Roebuck and Company--Trials, litigation, etc.
United States. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission--Trials, litigation, etc.