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MC 633; T-379; Vt-183

Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts. Records of the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts, 1982-2003: 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 gifts from generous supporters of the Schlesinger Library to the Maximum Access Fund.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 633; T-379; Vt-183
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts
Title: Records of the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts, 1982-2003
Date(s): 1982-2003
Quantity: 22.94 linear feet (55 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 14 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 6 videotapes, 2 audiotapes, and electronic records)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Minutes, annual reports, financial records, legislative campaign material, membership records, training materials, publications, photographs, memorabilia, audiovisual material, and clippings of the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts, a grassroots advocacy organization for women.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 2006-M92
The records of the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts were given to the Schlesinger Library by Judy Norsigian in 2006.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 2010
By: Emilyn L. Brown

Access Restrictions:

Access. The records are unrestricted with the following exceptions: folders #9.2 and #16.7-16.8 are closed until January 1, 2047; folder #14.5 is closed until January 1, 2070; folders #4.8-4.9 and #34.6 are closed until January 1, 2071; and folders #5.3-5.4, #6.5-6.6, and #34.12 are closed until January 1, 2072. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts 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:

Records of the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts, 1982-2003; item description, dates. MC 633, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

SEPARATION RECORD

Donors: Judy Norsigian
Accession number: 2006-M92
Processed by: Emilyn L. Brown
The following items have been removed from the collection:

HISTORY

The Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts (the "Network," or WSLNM) was formed to educate women and girls about the legislative process, advocacy, and how to shape public policies that affect their lives. The Network grew out of a series of meetings held by women's organizations from the Greater Boston area and the Caucus of Women Legislators between 1982 and 1983. The Network was formally incorporated in 1983, with feminist and peace activist Diane Balser as its first executive director. Representatives from Boston area women's organizations also served on the board of directors. The Network received its initial funding from the Ms. Foundation for Women, establishing it as one of the first organizations in Massachusetts to focus solely on gaining legislative empowerment for women. Subsequent funding from the Boston Foundation, Boston Women's Fund, Resist Foundation, and other grant-funding agencies, helped the Network expand its outreach strategies and attract a diverse range of women and girls, including immigrants, women of color, poor and low-income women, and the elderly, through training programs, thematic workshops, annual conferences, and public forums that addressed their special needs.
The Network's educational focus, proven effectiveness, and ongoing interaction with legislators and state officials, led to a growing advisory role. In 1988, Governor Michael Dukakis appointed Diane Balser chair of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Women's Issues. During the 1990s, Network staff served on the advisory councils, steering committees, and planning groups of various organizations, including the Girl Scouts Council, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the National Center for Policy Alternatives, Working Massachusetts, Welfare Dollars and Corporate Sense, and WomenIn. The Network's membership benefitted through legislative updates, action alerts, newsletters and training workshops, and roundtable discussion series led by its board of directors.
In response to impending laws restricting non-profits from lobbying, Network members began exploring the possibility of initiating a women's lobby. They formed the Women's State-wide Legislative Alliance (the "Alliance") in 1991 as a non-partisan, grassroots, sister organization. Similar to the Network, the Alliance was directed by Diane Balser, with Sandy Tarrant serving as assistant director, and a board of directors representing various women's organizations. Its organizing committee included Linda Johnson, who subsequently organized poor and low-income women under the Women's Educational and Empowerment Network, a sister group to the Alliance. During its first year of operations, the Alliance raised $15,000 by organizing house parties and legislative forums. As a result, it was able to expand and train its members and volunteers as senate district coordinators and to form highly effective "phone trees."
In 1994, following Diane Balser's resignation, former lobbyist and attorney Kelly Bates assumed the role of executive director of both the Network and the Alliance. This position subsequently became two co-director positions with Bates serving full-time as director of public policy and external relations and Taciana de Campos Ribeiro serving as director of coalition building and programs. Additional staff included Yael Foa, a state-wide organizer, and Amy Cobeta, the Network's office manager, aided by student interns. By the mid-1990s, the Network's membership, which included 1,000 individuals and 49 member organizations, played a central role in prioritizing its yearly legislative agenda, shifting legislative goals toward single issue campaigns with greater emphasis placed on coalition building. The Network and Alliance became lead organizers and provided key public testimony in numerous campaigns resulting in the successful passage of critical legislation, including the Sexual Harassment Education and Training Act; the Fulfill the Promise Campaign, which secured nearly $2 million from the Federal Highway Administration to create jobs in highway construction; and Paid Family and Medical Leave. The Network also played a critical role in the Campaign for Real Welfare Reform, one of the largest coalitions in the state. The outreach committee of the Campaign produced two important subgroups: the Women and Welfare Action Coalition, comprised of 25 women's groups, and the People of Color Task Force. Both subgroups continued as projects of the Network after the Campaign's demise in December 1995. Headed by Marlena Rose, the People of Color Task Force organized educational workshops, advocated for social reforms, and produced theater skits to dispel stereotypical images of welfare mothers.
The Network also gave public testimony and endorsed several smaller collaborative projects aimed at improving prospects for affordable child care, family economics, women's health, and housing reform. In 1996, the Network successfully lobbied for the Childbirth Bill in Massachusetts, sponsored by Senator Lois Pines and Representative Harriet Chandler. The Network was also a partner in the Family Economic Initiative, Working Families Agenda, and Up and Out of Poverty projects, as well as the Massachusetts Women's Health Care Coalition, which addressed proposals for greater access, education, research, and preventative care.
Two influential studies published by the Network further underscored their efforts to draw media attention to issues impacting women's lives. Women and the State Budget Report (1989) was the first publication to provide a comprehensive analysis of the state budget and its impact on women and girls. The release of the publication generated forums in Boston and Somerville. For its second publication, funded by the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, the Network collaborated with Dr. Randy Albelda and Dr. Chris Tilly of the University of Massachusetts to produce Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women, Income, and Poverty (1994), the first comprehensive study on women, income, and poverty in Massachusetts. The study was later published as Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty (1997). Between 1994 and 1995, the Network organized the Glass Ceilings tour, a series of educational forums held in Springfield, Framingham, Roxbury, Amherst, Pittsfield, Cape Cod, New Bedford, and the North Shore.
In 1996, mounting debts led to the dissolution of the Alliance and layoffs of several staff members, a situation attributed to a proliferation of women's groups working on legislative issues, and limited funding. Kelly Bates resigned her position in 1996 and was replaced by Linda Johnson. In 1998, Johnson co-founded the Low-Income and Welfare Organizing Coalition to educate women about welfare rights. She also employed an innovative use of on-line advocacy campaigns to broaden membership. In 1999, the Network received an award from the Massachusetts Commission for Women for their leadership role in the success of the Paid Family and Medical Leave coalition. In 2002 the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network of Massachusetts changed its name to the Women's Action Network to reflect a renewed commitment to equality and justice for women.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in eleven series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The records of the Women's State-Wide Legislative Network were received in labeled folders, which the archivist modified to avoid duplication and to consolidate related material. The archivist also provided the arrangement, and incorporated loose materials. There is substantial overlap among the series, with many of the same legislative issues, programs, and organizational material documented in multiple locations. Additional material received on floppy disks and data cartridges will be reformatted at some future date for inclusion in the relevant series.
Series I, ADMINISTRATION, 1983-2002, n.d. (#1.1-7.6), documents the governing structure and day-to-day operations of the Network. The records are organized in three subseries.
Subseries A, Annual meetings and reports, 1983-2002, n.d. (#1.1-1.5), contains incorporation papers and by-laws; correspondence; announcements, agendas, and programs related to annual meetings. Annual reports detail the organization's structure, strategic goals, work plans, fiscal status, fundraising efforts, membership recruitment, and training programs. Also included are financial records that may overlap with Series II (Financial). Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Board of directors, 1992-2002 (#1.6-3.4), includes applications and orientation material; financial reports; agendas and meeting announcements; minutes related to the executive committee (responsible for handling issues between board meetings), and minutes from board meetings, which are scattered and incomplete. Also included are by-laws; memoranda and correspondence between Network staff and board members; and records related to the Network's strategic planning retreat, which include requests for consultant proposals and a summary report. Additional by-laws with proposed revisions are included in Subseries C (Committees). Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Committees, 1991-2001, n.d. (#3.5-3.9), includes meeting agendas; inter-office memoranda and correspondence; and minutes of the fundraising committee, responsible for the development and evaluation of fundraising strategies and events, such as house parties, corporate giving, and high donor development. Additional minutes of the fundraising committee are included in Series II (Financial). Also included are minutes of the issues and advocacy committee, which organized legislative campaign strategies, and records of several other committees. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries D, Office operations, 1983-2002, n.d. (#4.1-7.6), includes correspondence and inter-office memoranda; fact sheets; minutes of staff meetings, which are scattered and incomplete; contracts for project consultants that shed light on the Network's project goals; mailing lists; office manuals, procedures and forms; action alerts and updates re: various campaigns published on the Network's online legislative advocacy web site; reference materials; and activities related to staff and office development, including workshops, media projects, and web site design. Also included are records related to prospective employees, which are closed until 2071, and internship and personnel records, which are closed until 2072. These files contain substantive biographical information and statements on why applicants want to work with the Network. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series II, FINANCIAL, 1983-2002, n.d. (#8.1-12.10), includes correspondence and inter-office memoranda; budgets, financial statements and reports; fundraising activities; lobbying expenses; funding history and guidelines; reference material; and grant proposals, etc., related to funding for the Network. The records have been organized in three subseries.
Subseries A, General operating expenses, 1987-2002, n.d. (#8.1-8.10), includes accounting procedures and codes; budgets and related items; records of cash receipts and disbursements; financial statements; general ledger entries; details of lobbying expenses and state reporting forms; and tax filing records. Some correspondence between Network staff and their accountants are also included. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Fundraising, 1988-2001, n.d. (#9.1-9.3), includes correspondence; minutes submitted by the finance and fundraising committees, event flyers, invitations, and brochures. Additional fundraising records are included in Series V (Women's State-wide Legislative Alliance). Photographs of two fundraising events are included in Series X (Photographs). Donor records associated with fundraising events are closed until 2047. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Proposals and grants, 1983-2002, n.d. (#9.4-12.10), includes correspondence; letters and statements of support; newsletters; and proposals sent to various funding agencies for staff salaries, operational expenses, conferences, collaborative campaigns, and training programs. Also included are records documenting Linda Johnson's advisory role for several funding agencies, including Funds for Self-Reliance, and the Fund for the Homeless, projects of the Boston Foundation. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series III, MEMBERSHIP AND RELATED, 1990-2001, n.d. (#13.1-13.9), includes applications, renewal forms and letters of solicitation; correspondence and inter-office memoranda; membership lists; event flyers; legislative updates and action alerts; program descriptions and training material for members; surveys; and submission forms for the Network's legislative agenda. Newsletters sent to members are included in Series IX (Publications, publicity, and related). Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, WORKSHOPS, FORUMS, AND TRAINING PROJECTS, 1989-2002, n.d. (#14.1-16.3), includes correspondence; brochures and flyers; evaluations; reference, and outreach material; and uncataloged photographs. Additional photographs related to workshops, forums and training projects for women and youth are included in Series X (Photographs). Videotapes of educational forums are included in Series XI (Memorabilia and audiovisual). Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series V, WOMEN'S STATE-WIDE LEGISLATIVE ALLIANCE, 1982-2001, n.d. (#16.4-20.3), documents the goals and strategies of the Alliance. Included are administrative and strategic planning records; general and legislative correspondence; fact sheets, flyers and hand-outs related to various campaigns; legislative action alerts, proposals, and reports; legal research; membership correspondence; reports and studies; meeting minutes; and materials related to fundraising efforts, which included house parties, discussion groups, entertainment, and legislative forums. Also included are records detailing the organization of district teams and telephone networks and State House News, a legislative tracking service used in various campaigns. A few records related to Women's Educational and Empowerment Network, a sister agency to the Alliance that was formerly headed by Linda Johnson, are also included. Donor records associated with fundraising events are closed until 2047. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series VI, MAJOR COALITIONS AND CAMPAIGNS, 1987-2002, n.d. (#20.4-36.4), documents the leadership, strategic planning, and participation of the Network and Alliance in various legislative campaigns and coalitions (terms used interchangeably in the records). The records are organized in five subseries.
Subseries A, Sexual harassment coalition, 1987-2001, n.d. (#20.4-21.8), includes material on the Civil Rights Acts of 1990-1991; correspondence; fact sheets, flyers, and hand-outs; legal research; legislative bills and amendments; minutes from coalition meetings; testimony and uncataloged photographs associated with public hearings; and reports and studies. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Campaign for Real Welfare Reform, 1990-2001, n.d. (#22.1-26.9), highlights the impact of welfare reform at local, state, and federal levels. The records include campaign, general and legislative correspondence; fact sheets, flyers, petitions, and hand-outs; legislative updates and newsletters; minutes; and testimony related to hearings. The Campaign's outreach committee, headed by Network director Kelly Bates, included the Women and Welfare Action Coalition, and the People of Color Task Force, which subsequently operated under the Network's direction.
Subseries C, Fulfill the Promise campaign, 1993-1998, n.d. (#27.1-28.4), documents the collaborative efforts of more than twenty groups advocating for federal funding to train women and minorities for highway construction jobs. Jointly organized by Women in the Building Trades, the Institute for Affirmative Action, and the Network, the records include administrative and strategic planning records; minutes from general meetings and committees; campaign and legislative correspondence; formal endorsements; legislative bills; and various reports. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries D, Paid Family and Medical Leave coalition, 1986-2002, n.d. (#28.5-33.5), includes general and legislative correspondence; minutes from coalition and committee meetings; conference papers; fact sheets, flyers and hand-outs; reference material; formal endorsements; legislative acts and amendments; testimony related to public hearings; reports and research; and surveys. Also included are substantial correspondence, meeting notes, and draft legislation associated with the Greater Boston Legal Services, which served as legal counsel for the Network during the campaign. See also Series X (Photographs) and Series XI (Memorabilia and audiovisual). Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries E, Low-Income and Welfare Organizing Collaborative, 1996-2002, n.d. (#34.1-36.4), documents a community-based project involving eight Boston area groups founded to promote organizing strategies among low-income women. Included are administrative and strategic planning records; correspondence and inter-office memoranda; minutes; fact sheets, flyers, and hand-outs; speeches; financial records; organizational profiles and related records of Collaborative members; and reports and publications pertaining to welfare reform in Massachusetts. Also included are handbooks on welfare rights prepared by the Network as part of a leafleting campaign, which took place at various offices of the Department of Transitional Assistance (the Welfare Office Project). Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series VII, OTHER COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS, 1984-2003, n.d. (#36.5-43.9), contains records related to smaller projects or campaigns that the Network endorsed, or participated in. These records were scattered and incomplete and some material is duplicated in Series VIII (Allied and Member Organizations). The archivist grouped the records by general topics and arranged the material in four subseries.
Subseries A, Child care legislation, 1984-2001, n.d. (#36.5-38.5), includes correspondence and inter-office memoranda; budget related material; proposed federal and state legislation; reports and testimony from public hearings related to the childbirth bill, child care, the impact of violence and welfare reform on children, early childhood education, and daycare issues. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Family-related projects, ca.1983-2003, n.d. (#38.6-40.6), includes correspondence; fact sheets, flyers, and hand-outs; newsletters; minutes and notes from meetings; proposed legislation; reports and research related to various initiatives. Also included is The Up and Out of Poverty campaign with anonymous interviews of welfare clients; and Working Massachusetts, for which the Network provided fiscal sponsorship. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Health care reform, 1986-2002, n.d. (#41.1-42.8), includes correspondence; flyers and hand-outs; legislation related to genetic testing, health care minimum wage and other reforms; reports; reference material; and publications. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries D, Housing reform, 1986-2001, n.d. (#43.1-43.9), includes correspondence; legislation related to affordable housing; housing programs; reports; and newsletters re: tenants' rights. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series VIII, ALLIED AND MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS, 1984-2002, n.d. (#44.1-53.3), documents the role of the Network and Alliance staff members on advisory boards, as organizers, participants, and sponsors of conferences and workshops, and their interaction with organizations involved in related activities. The archivist arranged the records alphabetically by organization, and in some cases grouped related material under broad subjects that were integrated into the arrangement. The records have been organized in three subseries.
Subseries A, Advisory committees, 1986-2002 (#44.1-44.8), contains correspondence; meeting minutes, and reports of organizations. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Conferences, forums, and retreats, 1986-2001 (#44.9-46.8), contains correspondence, planning minutes, and printed material related to various events co-sponsored, planned, or attended by Network staff members. Folders are arranged alphabetically by conference title.
Subseries C, Surveys and workshops, 1992-2000 (#47.1-47.6), contains surveys; correspondence; teaching papers; and notes related to workshops taught or attended by Network staff members. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries D, General correspondence and related activities, 1984-2002,n.d. (#48.1-53.3), includes correspondence, newsletters and print material describing programs and services for women. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series IX, PUBLICATIONS, PUBLICITY, AND RELATED, 1986-2002, n.d. (#53.4-55.8, FD.1), includes articles; certificates of recognition; clippings; press releases and related material; and reports published by the Network and Alliance, arranged alphabetically. Newsletters (Women's Action Network News, Women's Advocate, WSLA News, and WSLA/WSLN News ) were transferred to the Schlesinger Library Periodicals Collection; consult the catalog for holdings.
Series X, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1983-2001, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.15), contains photographs featuring Network staff and board members; annual meetings; community hearings; training programs for women and youth; fundraising events; and demonstrations and rallies. Also included are a few unidentified photographs presumably used in campaigns. 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 part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].
Series XI, MEMORABILIA AND AUDIOVISUAL, 1994-2001, n.d. (#55.9m, Vt-183.1 - Vt-183.6, T-379.1 - T-379.2), contains buttons used to promote various campaigns, followed by audiovisual materials.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Audiotapes
By-laws
Childbirth--Massachusetts
Child care--Massachusetts
Family violence--Massachusetts
Feminism--Massachusetts
Feminists--Massachusetts--Boston
Financial records
Fliers
Health care reform--Massachusetts
Homelessness--Massachusetts
Interviews
Letters to the editor
Lobbying--Massachusetts
Low-income mothers--Massachusetts
Massachusetts--Economic conditions
Massachusetts--Politics and government
Massachusetts--Social conditions
Minutes
Motherhood--Massachusetts
Newsletters
Occupational training for women--United States
Pay equity--Massachusetts
Photographs
Poor women--Massachusetts
Press releases
Programs
Public welfare--Massachusetts
Questionnaires
Reports
Sex discrimination against women--Massachusetts
Sexual harassment--Massachusetts
Speeches
Videotapes
Women construction workers--Massachusetts
Women--Legal status, laws, etc.--Massachusetts
Women political activists--Massachusetts
Women--Societies and clubs
Balser, Diane
Kennedy, Edward M. (Edward Moore), 1932-2009
Kerry, John, 1943-
Wilkerson, Dianne
Women's Statewide Legislative Alliance

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