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MC 556

Women's History Research Center. Records of the Women's History Research Center, 1968-1980: A Finding Aid

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

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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 1955.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 556
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Women's History Research Center
Title: Records of the Women's History Research Center, 1968-1980
Date(s): 1968-1980
Quantity: 21.02 linear feet (48 file boxes, 2 card file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, including requests for information; correspondence and telephone logs; staff progress reports; etc., of the Women's History Research Center.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 76-118, 76-132, 76-226, 76-259, 77-M33, 77-M122, 79-M78, 79-M116, 79-M222, 80-M129, 81-M3
The administrative records of the Women's History Research Center were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Women's History Research Center between April 1976 and January 1981.

Processing Information:

Processed: November 2007
By: Johanna Carll

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Women's History Research Center 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. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Women's History Research Center Records, 1968-1980; item description, dates. MC 556, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

Reels 6-8 of Women and Health/Mental Health can be found in the library's microfilm holdings (M-94).

HISTORY

The Women's History Research Center was founded in 1968 in Berkeley, California, by Laura Murra, who used the name Laura X to symbolize women's struggle against anonymity. Murra began collecting materials in the late 1960s after a professor expressed disbelief that there was enough material to justify a women's studies course; she later used an inheritance from relatives to establish the Women's History Research Center. The Women's History Research Center documented the women's movement of the late-1960s and 1970s, collecting periodicals, clippings from newspapers and magazines, pamphlets, songs, leaflets, graphics, research papers, theses, and poems, which they used to answer research inquiries from across the United States and, to a lesser extent, from abroad. In addition, they published directories of sources for women's films, tape recordings, art, women's studies courses, and bibliographies. In an effort to disseminate the materials, and to raise money for the Center, they published three microfilm collections: Herstory (1971, updated in 1973 and 1974) containing women's periodicals published in the United States between 1968 and 1974; Women and Health/Mental Health (1974) and Women and Law (1974) containing clippings, articles, pamphlets, and essays from Women's History Research Center's topical files.
By 1973, the Center had developed serious financial difficulties. They began to charge small amounts for their research services, but eventually could not meet their operating costs. They managed to remain open for several more years by relying on work-study students, interns, and volunteers in place of full-time paid staff members. They received grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) for its internship program; the Luke B. Hancock Foundation and Alameda Revenue Sharing for microfilming; the Zellerbach Family Fund for the reference librarian's salary; and the Equitable Life Assurance Company of America for operating expenses. Additonal funds came from the sale of the topical research files to the Archive of Contemporary History at the University of Wyoming, Laramie (now the American Heritage Center).
It is unclear when the Women's History Research Center ceased to exist, although it appears that Laura X continued to collect and distribute information under the name until as late as 1989. The collections of the Center were widely dispersed in the 1970s; in addition to the topical research files found at the American Heritage Center, the Women's History Research Center serials collection was sent to the Special Collections Library at Northwestern University, the film reference collection was sent to the University of California's Art Museum in Berkeley, and the pamphlet collection was purchased by Princeton University and added to the Princeton University Peace and Social Change Collection.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in eight series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The records of the Women's History Research Center (Women's History Research Center) include requests for information, correspondence concerning their periodical collection, staff progress reports, logs of correspondence and telephone calls, etc., documenting the administrative operations of the Center. Most folder titles were created by Women's History Research Center staff members; additional titles and information provided by the archivist appear in square brackets. The arrangement was created by the archivist.
Series I, OFFICE FILES, 1970-1977 (#1.1-11.5), includes correspondence, memos, financial documents, job applications, staff progress reports, volunteer sign-up sheets, etc. It is arranged in two subseries.
Subseries A, General, 1970-1977 (#1.1-5.4), includes correspondence; staff, supervisor, and planning meeting minutes; organizational charts; financial documents; memos; office manuals; etc. Also included are a small number of copies of SPAZM, a mimeographed collection of blurbs from newspapers, magazines, and other printed sources as well as announcements submitted by women's groups; there are also folders of materials collected for use in the newsletter. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Personnel, 1971-1979 (#5.5-10.8), includes job applications, staff progress reports, etc. Containing accounts of work that was completed in the office, and of conferences or events attended as representatives of the Women's History Research Center, progress reports were written by paid staff members, interns, and volunteers. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Volunteers, 1970-1975 (#10.9-11.5), includes correspondence, job descriptions, sign-up sheets, etc. Sign-up sheets contain the names and interests of individuals wanting to volunteer at the Women's History Research Center. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series II, INQUIRIES, 1969-1976 (#11.6-21.14, 49CB, 50CB), contains requests for information, logs of correspondence and telephone calls, and mailing lists. It is arranged in two subseries.
Subseries A, Requests for information, 1969-1976 (#11.6-18.5), contains letters from across the United States and, to a lesser extent, other countries requesting information on specific topics, women, and organizations; general requests for information on the women's liberation movement; and requests for Women's History Research Center publications such as songbooks and bibliographies, and price lists. Carbon copies of responses to such requests are often included. Some responses are noted on the envelopes in which requests were received, indicating that requests were processed by a staff member before being given to an intern or volunteer who wrote the reply. Many requests mention monetary donations for information. Folders are arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Address lists, correspondence and telephone logs, 1971-1976 (#18.6-21.14, 49CB, 50CB), contains records of incoming requests for information and outgoing responses. Logs indicate the date, general topic of the request, and the type of information sent in return. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series III, CHILDREN'S DEPARTMENT, 1972-1974 (#22.1-23.2, 49CB), includes correspondence relating to materials acquired by the department and requests for information, mostly asking for suggestions for non-sexist reading materials for children and young adults. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, PERIODICAL DEPARTMENT, 1969-1974 (#23.3-34.8), includes correspondence with publishers of women's periodicals, logs and lists of periodicals collected by the Women's History Research Center, filing procedures, etc. It is arranged in two subseries.
Subseries A, Correspondence, 1969-1974 (#23.3-30.56), contains correspondence with publishers of women's periodicals, many of them small, independent publications. Correspondence concerns the Women's History Research Center's efforts to complete their holdings of each title, requests for information about other organizations' activities and events, and requests for permission to include periodicals in Women's History Research Center microfilming projects. While many files contain clippings, flyers, and mailings, there are no periodicals in this subseries. It is probable that the periodicals relating to these files were among those sent to Northwestern University. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Logs and procedures, 1969-1973 (#30.57-34.8), contains logs and lists of periodicals acquired by the Women's History Research Center and filing and staff procedures. Logs include periodical titles; name of the publisher, usually a grass-roots women's organization; and the issues acquired. Photocopies of index cards in #34.1-34.6 include similar information. The invite book contains a record of organizations contacted by the Women's History Research Center and asked to contribute materials to the Center's collection. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series V, PROMOTIONS DEPARTMENT, 1970-1977 (#34.9-41.5, 49CB), includes correspondence, memos, flyers, notes, etc., relating to publicity for the Women's History Research Center. Correspondence includes files relating to the advertising of microfilm collections produced by the Women's History Research Center and conferences in which members of the Women's History Research Center participated or at which the Women's History Research Center offered pamphlets to conference participants. Many files appear to have been created by the law and health departments, which may have ceased to exist following the release of the Women and Health and Women and Law microfilm collections. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series VI, WOMEN'S STUDIES DEPARTMENT, 1968-1974 (#41.6-43.13), contains correspondence files and clippings concerning women's studies programs throughout the United States. Correspondence topics include syllabi, conferences, and workshops sponsored by women's studies departments. Files are arranged alphabetically by school.
Series VII, INTERNSHIP PROGRAM, 1973-1975 (#43.14-47.12), includes grant applications, intern applications, program evaluations, manuals, etc., relating to the internship program funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare). Files document the Women's History Research Center's planning, administration, and efforts to evaluate the program. Correspondence logs document a portion of the work accomplished by interns and the evaluations and questionnaires provide an overview of the internships; for more detailed accounts of the work accomplished, see the progress reports in Series I, Subseries C. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series VIII, UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING, 1974-1980 (#47.13-48.10), contains carbon copies of responses to the requests for information received by the Women's History Research Center, and answered by the Archive of Contemporary History at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, as part of the agreement between the two organizations upon the Archive's acquisition of the Women's History Research Center's topical research files. Files do not include the original request. Filed among the responses is correspondence between Laura X and Wyoming's David Crossen, in which Laura X expresses her dissatisfaction with Crossen's replies to requests for information. Also included are memos documenting Women's History Research Center's procedures for handling requests for information following the sale of the topical files. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Feminism--United States
Feminists--United States
Internship programs
Organizational change
Volunteers
Women--History--20th century
Women--Information services
Women's studies
X., Laura

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