National Abortion Rights Action League. Records, 1968-1976: A Finding AidArthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
The collection was processed with a grant from the National Historical Publications
and Records Commission (#79-4).
© 1980 Radcliffe College
Call No.: MC 313
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: National Abortion Rights Action League, 1969-
Title: Records, 1968 (1969-1975) 1976
Quantity: 8 cartons, 2 file boxes, 2-1/2 file boxes, electronic records
Abstract: Records of the National Abortion Rights Action League, a national lobbying and membership
organization devoted first to obtaining, and later to maintaining, the availability
of safe, legal abortion.
Processed: October 1980
By: Katherine Gray Kraft, Zephorene L. Stickney
Accession number: 77-M189
The records of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) were given to the
Schlesinger Library beginning in November 1977.
Access. Open to research except for Fundraising Correspondence and Membership Forms,
which are closed until January 1, 2028.
National Abortion Rights Action League Records, 1968-1976; item description, dates.
MC 313, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge,
NARAL is the only national lobbying and membership organization devoted solely to
maintaining the availability of safe, legal abortion. Originally called the National
Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, NARAL was established at the First National
Conference on Abortion Laws: Modification or Repeal?, held in February 1969 in Chicago.
The conference, sponsored by 21 organizations and attended by 350 people, included
a planning session for NARAL and the report of NARAL's pre-formation planning committee:
Lawrence Lader of New York, Garrett Hardin of California, and Dr. Lonny Myers of Chicago.
Those attending the session elected a 12-person Planning Committee: Lawrence Lader
(Chairman), Ruth Proskauer Smith (Vice Chairman), Ruth Cusack (Secretary), Beatrice
McClintock (Treasurer), Constance Bille Finnerty, Mrs. Marc Hughes Fisher, Betty Friedan,
Norval Morris, Stewart Mott, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Edna Smith, and Percy Sutton.
The committee held its first official meeting in New York on February 25, 1969. It
hired Lee Gidding as the first Executive Director; she opened NARAL's office in New
York City on March 3.
The Planning Committee, meeting regularly between February and September 1969, defined
NARAL's purpose and program, drafted by-laws to submit to the membership for approval,
prepared a slate to run for the Board of Directors, and directed NARAL's activities.
The Committee defined NARAL's purpose as follows:
NARAL, recognizing the basic human right of a woman to limit her own reproduction,
is dedicated to the elimination of all laws and practices that would compel any woman
to bear a child against her will. To that end, it proposes to initiate and co-ordinate
political, social, and legal action of individuals and groups concerned with providing
safe abortions by qualified physicians for all women seeking them regardless of economic
The original NARAL program had six parts:
- 1. Assist in the formation in all states of direct political action groups dedicated
to the purpose of NARAL;
- 2. Serve as a clearing house for activities related to NARAL's purpose;
- 3. Create new materials for mass distribution which tell the repeal story dramatically
- 4. Train field workers to organize and stimulate legislative action;
- 5. Suggest direct action projects;
- 6. Raise funds for the above activities.
The Board of Directors, elected by the membership, officially replaced the Planning
Committee at the first Board meeting, held on September 27, 1969. The Board elected
Honorary Officers (Dr. Lester Breslow and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm as Presidents,
Senator Maurine Neuberger as Vice President), Officers (including New York City Councilwoman
Carol Greitzer as President), an Executive Committee (Lawrence Lader, Chairman), and
a Nominating Committee. In addition, the Board adopted a very specific program of
action (see NARAL News, Winter 1970).
From 1969 till early 1973, NARAL worked with other groups to repeal state abortion
laws and to oversee implementation of abortion policies in those few states that had
liberalized their laws. On January 22, 1973, in Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court
held that, during the first three months of pregnancy, abortion should be a private
decision between a woman and her doctor, and that during the second three months state
regulation should be permitted only to protect the health of the woman. To reflect
the Court's repeal of restrictive abortion laws, NARAL became the National Abortion
Rights Action League in late 1973.
The Court decision did not settle the issue of women's right to choose abortion.
Anti-abortion groups, funded predominantly by the Roman Catholic Church and some other
religious organizations, stepped up their political activities, exerting pressure
on hospitals, abortion clinics, state legislatures, and the U.S. Congress to limit,
or prohibit, abortions. In response, NARAL began to recruit members and funds more
actively, expanded its staff, moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C., to facilitate
lobbying, and established a political action committee (NARAL PAC) to solicit funds
and work on behalf of political candidates. Since its establishment in 1969, NARAL
has sponsored workshops, symposiums, and conferences; initiated legal suits; raised
funds; published and distributed educational materials; cooperated with numerous other
groups in a variety of projects; and demonstrated, lobbied, and testified on behalf
of women's right to legal, safe abortions.
NARAL's newsletters, press releases, mailings to members, and annual meeting minutes
are a good source of information on the history, resolutions and policies, and activities
of the organization, as well as information about abortion rights activities in the
states and overseas. Additional published material about abortion, reproduction and
birth control, activities of pro-choice and anti-abortion groups, and related information
has been transferred from the NARAL subject files to the book division of the Schlesinger
The records are restricted under an agreement between the Schlesinger Library and
NARAL. Publications, minutes of annual meetings, mailings to members, and other material
of a public nature are available for research. Access to the remainder of the records
is restricted to past and present officers, Board members, and Executive Directors,
and to those researchers who have the written permission of the Executive Committee.
The records contain by-laws; minutes of annual meetings; correspondence, mailings,
and other material related to annual meetings; minutes, correspondence, and mailings
to and from the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee; reports and some correspondence
of the Executive Director; some correspondence of the Director of Field Service; minutes,
mailings, and correspondence of various committees; some financial and membership
records; correspondence files by subject, and by state; and mailings, newsletters,
and other publications.
Many sections, most notably financial and membership records, are incomplete for the
years covered. Information on the First National Conference on Abortion Laws, which
led to the founding of the organization, is also sparse, although some correspondence
about it may be found in the state correspondence ("Illinois, 1968 - July 1969").
The following kinds of records have not yet been located: documentation of program
planning for the annual meetings; records of founders, officers, and staff; tapes,
films, and paper documentation of television and radio ads or of televised panel discussions.
In general, NARAL's filing system has been retained, except that most of the printed
reference material, originally filed throughout the collection, has been removed and
transferred to the book division of the SL. Since all the major correspondence series
contain similar material, it is often necessary to search in several places for a
certain record. For example, correspondence with a Board member serving on the Executive
Committee while residing in Minnesota may be in Board correspondence, state correspondence
(for Minnesota), subject correspondence, or Executive Committee correspondence, or
in two or more of these categories.
Because the records are relatively incomplete at this time, they have not been divided
into series, nor have the folders been numbered.
NARAL's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's
Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site
will be available through this finding aid in 2010.
Additional records are received from NARAL occasionally and added to the processed
records as staff time permits. While some addenda are for later periods, some date
back to periods the records for which have already been processed. There is related
material: Additional records of the National Abortion Rights Action League (MC 714
); National Abortion Rights Action League Videotape collection (Vt-4
) National Abortion Rights Action League, State affiliates newsletter collection (Pr-5
); and National Abortion Rights Action League, State affiliates printed material collection
- Box 1: 1-26
- Box 2: 27-32
- Cartons 1-8
- File boxes 9-10
- 1. Organizational records, 1968-1969, re: First National Conference on Abortion Laws,
Feb. 14-16, 1969.
- 2. By-laws, 1969-1974, n.d.
- 3-8: Annual meetings: mailings, minutes and reports, material distributed at meetings,
- 9-14: Conferences, symposiums: mailings, conference kits.
- 9. The First Symposium on Non-Hospital Abortion Procedures, July 1, 1970, New York City.
- 10. Midwest Strategy Conference, Jan. 9, 1971, Chicago.
- 12. The New Offensive Against Antiabortion Laws: A National Symposium on Legislative
and Judicial Breakthroughs, May 12, 1972, New York City.
- 13. Indiana NARAL Conference, June 8, 1974.
- 14. Midwest Regional Abortion Conference, Nov. 8-9, 1974, Bloomington, MN.
- 15. Lists of Boards of Directors, 1969-1975(?)
- 16. 1972 Board meeting (?), ca. May: PHOTOS.
FILED IN PHOTO DRAWER
- 17. Statements by Executive Director, Lee Gidding, 1972, n.d.
- 18-32: Press releases, publications, mailings.
- 18. Press releases, 1969-1971.
- 19. Press releases, 1972-1975, n.d.
- 20-22: Literature written and/or reprinted by NARAL.
- 23. Literature by other organizations distributed by NARAL, 1967-1974.
- 24-27: Membership mailings.
- 28. Fund-raising appeals, 1969-1972.
- 29. Fat Cat mailings, 1971.
- 30. "Special" mailings, 1971.
- 31. "Special" mailings, 1972-1973.
- 32. Congressional mailings, 1973.
- Carton 1:By-laws correspondence, 1969-1970, 1973
- Annual meetings: arrangements, correspondence, other
- Carton 1:June - Sept. 9, 1970
- Carton 1:Sept. 10 - Oct., 1970
- Carton 1:July - Sept. 15, n.d., 1971
- Carton 1:Sept. 16, 1971 - Jan. 1972
- Carton 1:Doctor's Action, July - Dec. 1971
- Carton 1:July - Oct. 1972
- Carton 1:April - Oct. 1973
- Carton 1:Jan. - Feb. 1975
- Board of Directors
- Carton 1:Minutes, 1969-1975 (incomplete)
- Carton 1:1969-1973, with Lawrence Lader
- Executive Committee
- Minutes, agendas, supporting documents
- Carton 1:Jan. - April 1970
- Advisory Council
- Carton 1:1970,
- Vice Presidents
- Carton 1:1969 (correspondence about)
- Midwest Strategy Conference (Jan. 9, 1971, Chicago)
- Carton 1:Correspondence, Dec. 1970
- Carton 1:Minutes, correspondence, Jan. 1971
- Executive Director
- Carton 1:Correspondence, 1969-1972, n.d. (Lee Gidding)
- Carton 1:Reports, 1969-1970
- Carton 1:Reports, 1971-1972
- Carton 1:Reports, 1973-1974
- Director of Field Service
- Carton 1:Correspondence, 1973-1975 (Vicki Kaplan)
- Planning Committee
- Carton 1:Mailings to and from, 1969
- Carton 1:Minutes, agendas and supporting documents, Feb. - May 1969
- Carton 1:Minutes, agendas and supporting documents, June - Sept., n.d. 1969
- Legal Committee
- Carton 1:Correspondence, 1969-1970
- Medical Committee
- Carton 1:Correspondence, 1971-1972
- Membership records
- Carton 1:Letters from President to state repeal groups, 1971
- CORRESPONDENCE BY STATE
Scope and Content: These files include correspondence about setting up and working with state affiliates,
correspondence with Board members residing in the respective states, membership correspondence,
acknowledgements of donations, requests for information, reports on meetings with
state representatives, and other papers. Much of the correspondence during NARAL's
first few years was filed by the state of the sender.
- Carton 2: Alabama, 1969-1975
- Carton 2: Alaska, 1969-1974
- Carton 2: Arizona, 1969-1975
- Carton 2: Arkansas, 1972-1975
- Carton 2: 1968 - Sept. 1969
- Carton 2:
Oct. - Dec. 1969
- Carton 2: Jan. - Sept. 1970
- Carton 2: Oct. 1970 - April 1971
- Carton 2: May - Dec. 1971
- Carton 2: Jan. - May 1974
- Carton 2: June - Dec. 1974
- Carton 2: Jan. - April 1975
- Carton 2: May - Dec. 1975
- Carton 2: 1969 - Oct. 1971
- Carton 2: Delaware, 1969-1975
- Washington, D.C.
- Carton 2: Clinic, 1969-1972
- Carton 2: General Hospital Suit, 1970
- Carton 2: Georgia, 1969-1975
- Carton 3:Hawaii, 1969-1975
- Carton 3:Idaho, 1970-1974
- Carton 3:1968 - July 1969
- Carton 3:Aug. 1969 - Dec. 1970
- Carton 3:Jan. - April 1974
- Carton 3:Kentucky, 1969-1975
- Carton 3:Louisiana, 1969-1975
- Carton 3:Maine, 1969-1975
- Carton 3:Jan. - July 1974
- Carton 3:Aug. - Dec. 1974
- Carton 3:Jan. - June 1972
- Carton 3:July - Dec. 1972
- Minnesota (continued)
- Carton 4:Jan. - June 1974
- Carton 4:July - Dec. 1974
- Carton 4:Jan. - April 1975
- Carton 4:May - Oct., n.d. 1975
- Carton 4:Mississippi, 1970-1972, 1975
- Carton 4:Montana, 1970-1975
- Carton 4:Nebraska, 1969-1975
- Carton 4:Nevada, 1969-1975
- New Jersey
- Carton 4:1973 - Sept. 1974
- Carton 4:Oct. 1974 - 1975
- Carton 4:New Mexico, 1969-1975
- New York
- Carton 4:1968 - Sept. 1969
- Carton 4:Oct. - Dec., n.d. 1969
- Carton 4:Jan. - April 1970
- Carton 4:May - Dec., n.d. 1970
- Carton 4:Sutton's
Abortion Hearings, Oct. 16, 1970 (NYC)
- Carton 4:New York State (NYS) Campaign, 1970-1971
- Carton 4:New York Clinics, 1970-1972, n.d.
- Carton 4:New York Implementation, 1970-1971
- Carton 4:June - Sept. 1972
- Carton 4:Oct. - Dec., n.d. 1972
- Carton 4:NYS Campaign, 1972
- Carton 4:NYS: Coalition for a Free Choice, 1972
- Carton 4:Jan. - Sept. 1973
- Carton 4:Oct. - Dec., n.d. 1973
- Carton 5:North Dakota, 1970-1975
- Carton 5:1969 - April 1970
- Carton 5:May - Dec., n.d., 1970
- Carton 5:Jan. - June 1974
- Carton 5:July - Dec., n.d., 1974
- Carton 5:Rhode Island, 1970-1975
- Carton 5:South Carolina, 1969-1973
- Carton 5:South Dakota, 1969-1975
- Carton 5:Tennessee, 1969-1975
- Carton 5:Vermont, 1970-1975
- Carton 6:West Virginia, 1969-1975
- Carton 6:1973 - Sept. 1974
- Carton 6:Oct. 1974 - 1975
- SUBJECT CORRESPONDENCE
Scope and Content: This series was originally a correspondence and reference file, with printed materials
interfiled with the correspondence. A complete list of original folder headings is
in the first folder of the series. Printed material was removed by the SL archivist
and transferred to the Librarian. This series now contains correspondence and relevant
printed material. NARAL's folder headings have been retained.
- Carton 6:List of folders originally contained in correspondence/reference file
- Carton 6:Abortion checklist forms (for evaluation of facilities)
- Carton 6:Abortion data, 1972-1973
- Carton 6:Abortion Reform Association, 1969-1970
- Carton 6:Abortion Rights Association, 1970, 1974
- Carton 6:Abortion, techniques of, 1971-1972
- Carton 6:ACLU and NARAL lawsuits, 1973.
See also Hospital suits.
- Carton 6:ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, 1974-1976
- Carton 6:American Medical Association, 1970
- Carton 6:American Psychological Association, 1975
- Carton 6:Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 1973-1974
- Carton 6:Anne's book, 1974-1975 (re: Abortion Is A Blessing by Anne Nicol Gaylor)
- Carton 6:Association for the Study of Abortion, 1968-1969,
- Carton 6:Association for Voluntary Sterilization, 1969-1972
- Carton 6:Australia, 1969-1973
- Carton 6:Basic information 1972-1973 (lists of NARAL Boards, cooperating organizations, statistics,
- Carton 6:Bucharest, 1974 (re: UN World Population Conference)
- Carton 6:Campus, 1969-1970
- Carton 6:Campus, 1972-1973
- Carton 6:Catholic allies, 1973-1974
- Carton 6:Catholic Alternatives, 1975
- Catholics for a Free Choice
- Carton 6:Jan. - July 1974
- Carton 6:Aug. - Sept. 1974
- Carton 6:Oct. - Dec., n.d. 1974
- Carton 6:Center for Disease Control statistics, 1974-1976
- Carton 6:Citizens for Abortion Rights and Religious Liberty, 1969
- Clinic project (letter-writing campaign)
- Carton 6:Clinics correspondence, 1973 (includes some non-project
- Carton 6:Correspondence re: clinic project, 1973-1974
- Carton 6:Clinics, 1973-1974
- Carton 6:Reports from cooperating clinics, 1973-1974
- Carton 6:Clinic project work, 1973-1974
- Carton 6:Clinic letter-writing project, final report to state coordinators, 1974?
- Carton 6:Misc. clinic lists, 1974, n.d.
- Clinic project (letter-writing campaign) (continued)
- Carton 7:Originals (for mailings), 1974-1975
- Carton 7:Upcoming clinic mailing, 1975
- Carton 7:Coalition on Abortion Law Implementation, 1969-1970
- Carton 7:Coalition on Abortion Law Implementation, 1971-1972
- Carton 7:Coalition of Organizations for Abortion Rights (COFAR), 1971
- Carton 7:Committee for the Cook-Leichter Bill (NY), 1970
- Carton 7:Congress, June - Nov. 1973
- Carton 7:Congress, Dec., n.d. 1973
- Carton 7:Constitutional Defense Project (Boston), 1974
- Carton 7:Contraception, 1973
- Carton 7:Counseling, 1969-1971
- Carton 7:Debating the opposition, 1972
- Carton 7:England, 1969-1975
- Carton 7:Fact Sheet, 1973
- Carton 7:Fetal research, 1974-1975
- Carton 7:Films, 1971-1972
- Carton 7:Genocide, 1971-1972
- Hospital project (survey to determine availability of abortion services)
- Carton 7:Health departments contacted, 1974
- Carton 7:Hospital project - questionnaires, cover letter, other, 1975
- Carton 7:Responses to hospital mailing, 1975
- Carton 7:Hospitals, correspondence, 1975
- Carton 7:Hospital suits, 1973 (re: ACLU - NARAL lawsuits; see also ACLU and NARAL lawsuits)
- Carton 7:Initiative - Referendum, 1971
- Carton 7:Insurance, 1969-1970
- Carton 7:International, 1971-1976
- Carton 7:International Association for the Right to Abortion, 1974
- Carton 7:International Association for the Right to Abortion, 1975
- Carton 7:International Women's Year, 1975
- Carton 7:Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, 1974 (re: denial of membership to NARAL)
- Carton 7:Legal (court cases), 1969-1970
- Carton 7:Legal (court cases), 1971-1973
- Carton 7:Legislation, 1970-1971
- Carton 7:Literature, 1970-1972
- Carton 7:Lysistrata Day, 1969-1970
- Carton 7:Maude, 1973-1974
- Carton 7:Media, 1970, 1972
- Carton 7:Medical and abortion, 1970, 1972
- Carton 7:Medical folder for Q and A pamphlet, 1972-1975
- Carton 7:Michaels' re-election campaign (re: NY state assemblyman George Michaels)
- Carton 7:National, 1971-1973 (re: federal policy, Pres. Commission on Population Growth and
the American Future)
- Carton 7:National - Candidates positions on abortion, 1971
- Carton 7:NARAL Fund, 1972
- Carton 7:NARAL literature, 1969-1971
- Carton 7:NARAL literature, 1973, n.d.
- Carton 7:NARAL press conferences, 1969-1973, n.d.
- Carton 7:NARAL Symposium on Non-Hospital Abortion Procedures (July 1, 1970)
- Carton 7:NARAL Symposium on Legislative and Judicial Breakthroughs (May 12, 1972)
- Carton 7:National Association of Reproductive Health Centers, 1974
- Carton 7:National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral
- Carton 7:National Organization for Women, 1973-1975
- Carton 7:National Women's Political Caucus, 1975
- Carton 7:New Zealand, 1973
- Carton 7:Nurses, 1974, n.d.
- Organizations correspondence
- Carton 8:Organization membership drive, 1970-1971
- Organizational positions on abortion
- Carton 8:Organization support, 1971-1972
- Carton 8:Organizations, 1968-1973
- Carton 8:Physicians, 1970-1971
- Carton 8:Polls, 1969-1972
- Carton 8:Population, 1971-1972
- Carton 8:Population and environment, 1969-1971
- Carton 8:Population Reference Bureau, 1975
- Carton 8:Positions - Individual, 1969-1973
- Carton 8:Projects, Special, 1970-1973
- Carton 8:Projects, Suggested, 1970-1975, n.d.
- Carton 8:Psychiatric, 1971, n.d.
- Carton 8:Public health, 1971
- Carton 8:Public Health Benefits leaflet, 1972
- Public relations
See also Media.
- Carton 8:Questions and Answers information (for brochure?)
- Carton 8:Quotes (by others), 1973
- Carton 8:Religious, 1971-1974
- Carton 8:Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, 1974-1975
- Carton 8:San Diego NOW actions, 1974-1975
- Carton 8:Sex Information and Education Council of the US mailing list, Planned Parenthood contributors'
- Carton 8:Speakers' Bureau, 1969-1971
- Carton 8:State and local organizations (activist groups), 1973, n.d.
- Carton 8:State Communities Aid Association, 1972
(requests for general information)
- Box 9:Vintage Press, 1969-1972
- Box 9:Volunteers, 1969-1970
- Box 9:Washington, DC office, 1973
- Box 9:Women's Action Alliance, 1975
- Box 9:Women's Action Alliance: US National Women's Agenda, Task Force on Health Care and
Physical Safety, 1976
- List of folders originally contained in correspondence/reference file (continued):
- Box 9:Women's Lobby, 1974 (lobbying reports on US Congresspeople)
- Box 9:Women's National Abortion Action Coalition (WONAAC), 1971
- Box 9:Workshops, 1969-1970
- Box 9:World Population Society, 1975-1976
- Box 9:Zero Population Growth, 1969-1974
- Box 10Ballots, proxies from annual meeting, 1972
- Nominating Committee records:
- Box 10March - Aug., n.d., 1970
- Box 10Mailings to and from Nominating Committee, 1970-1971
- Box 10Correspondence, 1971
- Box 10Mailings to and from Nominating Committee, 1972
- Box 10Correspondence, 1972
- Box 10Correspondence removed from folders throughout collection (3 folders)
National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws
Abortion--Law and legislation
Legal status, laws, etc.