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MC 727; Vt-240; DVD-73

Legal Momentum (Organization). Records of Legal Momentum, 1978-2011: 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 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 727; Vt-240; DVD-73
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Legal Momentum (Organization)
Title: Records of Legal Momentum, 1978-2011
Date(s): 1978-2011
Quantity: 46.5 linear feet (111 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 22 video cassettes, 16 DVDs, electronic records)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence; conference material; grant proposals; legal files; legislative material; minutes; project and planning files; publications; resource material; audiovisual materials, etc., reflecting Legal Momentum's work to advance the rights of women and girls through litigation and public policy advocacy.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2011-M75, 2011-M121, 2011-M126, 2011-M150, 2011-M188B, 2012-M124, 2012-M127, 2012-M204
The records of Legal Momentum were given to the Schlesinger Library by Legal Momentum between 2011 and 2012.

Processing Information:

Processed: May 2013
By: Bridgette A. Woodall with assistance from Samuel Bauer.
Updated: August 2014
By: Marilyn Morgan

Access Restrictions:

Access. The majority of the collection is open for research; restricted folders are noted. (Some folders throughout are closed due to financial, personal, or sensitive material.) Researchers must obtain written permission of Legal Momentum to view the following: long range plans, planning material, and strategic plans (in Series I), for 20 years from date of creation; board minutes (in Series II), for 20 years from date of creation; grant proposals and meeting material (in Series III), for 20 years from date of creation; DVD project applications, contracts, correspondence, financial records, and grant proposals (in Series IV), for 20 years from date of creation; #103.7 (in Series V), for 20 years from date of creation; and legal case files (in Series V), for 75 years from date of creation. #19.6 is closed until January 1, 2028. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Legal Momentum is held by Legal Momentum, and, following the organization's dissolution, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other records 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:

Legal Momentum Records, 1978-2011; item description, dates. MC 727, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Materials

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund Records, 1968-2008 (MC 623); NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund Videotape Collection, 1984-1990 (Vt-67); Project on Equal Education Rights Records, 1966-1991 (MC 607); and the Lynn Hecht Schafran Papers, 1957-2013 (MC 825).


Donor: Legal Momentum
Accession numbers: 2011-M75, 2011-M121, 2011-M126, 2011-M150, 2011-M188B, 2012-M124, 2012-M127, 2012-M204
Processed by: Bridgette A. Woodall
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University (pending review):
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Books and Printed Materials Division (pending review by curator):
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Women's Newsletter and Periodical Collection (Pr-4) (pending review):
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Feminist Ephemera Collection (Pr-11) (pending review):


Legal Momentum (formerly, NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund), was one of the first legal organizations in the United States devoted solely to working for gender equality. In March 1970, members of the National Organization for Women's Legal Committee incorporated the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (NOW LDEF) as a separate 501© (3) organization dedicated to furthering women's rights through litigation, and to raising funds to support legal and educational projects relating to women. In 1971, NOW LDEF was granted tax-exempt status. It was run by a small board of directors, and its "membership" was comprised of this board, as well as all members of the NOW board. The first board meeting was held on July 14, 1970. The first national office was established in New York City in 1973. NOW LDEF hired a small administrative staff, and in 1974 added an executive director. Actual legal work was initially done pro bono by board members or by cooperating attorneys. Most early legal work consisted of filing amicus briefs or distributing funds to lawsuits already underway (many of them initiated by NOW or NOW chapters). Initial case work focused on employment discrimination, academic discrimination, and family law. In 1977 NOW LDEF raised funds to hire a legal director, and began to hire litigation staff. While the organization received hundreds of letters from individual women asking for legal assistance, the legal department tried to focus on precedent-setting suits that would affect large numbers of women. Attorneys also compiled legal guides on topics concerning women, and drafted model legislation on issues such as child custody and domestic violence. In the early 1970s, NOW LDEF raised funds to distribute to feminist research or policy projects that applied for assistance. The organization soon began to found and manage its own projects, the largest of which were the Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER, 1974-1992), and the National Judicial Education Program (NJEP, 1980-ongoing). Lynn Hecht Schafran has served as director of the National Judicial Education Program since 1981. For additional details concerning her accomplishments see Series IV, National Judicial Education Progam in this finding aid. The 1976 Tax Reform Act allowed 501© (3) organizations to lobby the federal government. NOW LDEF began its direct attempts to influence national public policy with a campaign (in conjunction with NOW and other feminist organizations) to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In the early 1990s NOW LDEF began lobbying in Washington, D.C., for the Violence Against Women Act (passed in 1994), and also worked to pass effective legislation on issues ranging from sexual harassment to welfare. In 2004 NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund changed its name to Legal Momentum. It continues to focus on advocacy, litigation, and educational initiatives to ensure economic and personal security for women, and to eradicate gender bias.


The collection is arranged in six series:


The records of Legal Momentum reflect Legal Momentum's legal, legislative, and public advocacy work in the areas of abortion and reproductive rights; affirmative action and pay equity; child care reform; domestic violence; gender-based hate crimes; insurance discrimination; sexual assault and harassment; the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and welfare reform; etc.; and includes records from Legal Momentum and NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund. The processor rearranged or combined related folder contents, maintained most original folder titles, and provided the overall arrangement; folder titles in brackets were created by the processor.
Series I, ADMINISTRATIVE, 1993-2011 (#1.1-4.7, FD.1, E.1-E.6), contains published annual reports; by-laws for 2004; executive summaries; a 2005 president's report; information packets for interns and volunteers (including office procedures, related memos, staff contact lists, publicity information, etc.); long range and strategic plans; grant proposals; and staff material (including biographies, business cards, contact lists, legislative and lobbying resource material, related correspondence and memos, etc.). Long range and strategic plans contain budgets, proposals, and reports outlining organizational and operational plans for Legal Momentum's programs, projects, legal agendas, and public policies; topics focus on child care, immigrant women, reproductive rights, violence, and welfare. Grant proposals focus on such issues as domestic violence, links between violence and poverty, welfare reform, economic security, etc., and contain budgets and project proposals for obtaining funding to organize coalitions, education programs, media campaigns, conferences, etc. Also included in the series is material from annual award/fundraising events, which contains material from the "Aiming High: A Celebration of the Power of Women" (honoring women of achievement in American business), "Bringing Up Daughters Differently" (BUDDY) (honoring women of leadership through family values), "Equal Opportunity" (honoring men and women in corporate leadership who promote equality for women in the workplace), and "Women of Achievement" (honoring women of achievement in business, law, and public service); corporate sponsorship of these award events aids in funding Legal Momentum's advocacy programs. Award event material includes budgets; contact and mailing lists; correspondence and memos; donor and guest lists; notes; program booklets, flyers, and pamphlets; planning material; reports; resource material; speeches; photographs and digital photographs; clippings; etc. The series is arranged with administrative records arranged alphabetically followed by award event/fundraisers, also arranged alphabetically. The Legal Momentum web site, which includes photographs and other writing, is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX).
Series II, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, 1978-2010 (#4.8-15.2), contains the meeting minutes of the board of directors and "membership" (comprised of the NOW LDEF/ Legal Momentum board as well as NOW board members). Also included in the series are the meeting minutes of a 1997 strategic planning retreat (#11.3) and a 2005 special board meeting (#12.4). The board minutes were initially noted as "board report binders" and "board meeting updates" and are a compilation of annual minutes, project and committee reports, budgets, etc. Material in this series is restricted for 20 years from date of creation. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series III, FAMILY INITIATIVE, 1997-2008 (#15.3-21.2, E.7), contains material from the Family Initiative program, a project focused on long-term investment in developing quality child care and early education programs throughout the United States. The records include correspondence, memos, guest lists, notes, planning material, reports, resource material, etc., related to conferences; budgets, correspondence, memos, digital photographs, minutes, notes, proposal plans, reports, strategic plans, etc., from meetings with the advisory commission and program sponsors (including Cornerstones for Kids, Early Learning Council, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, J.P. Morgan Chase, and others); material from campaign drives (including photo shoot permission and release forms; contact lists for fundraisers; grant proposals; etc.); material on the program's organizational structure and web site development; and resource material. The 2004 program curriculum provides an in-depth description of the project's objectives, strategies, and timeline for implementing child care programs. Also included in the series is material from a 2004 Congressional briefing, a 2007 town hall meeting, and press advisories for 2006 media events. The series is arranged alphabetically by activity or record type, and thereunder chronologically.
Series IV, NATIONAL JUDICIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM, 1991-2010 (#21.3-32.1), contains material from the National Judicial Education Program, a project designed to educate judges and justice system professionals about gender bias in the court system. The project was initiated by Legal Momentum, in cooperation with the National Association of Women Judges. From 1980 to 1981, Norma Wikler served as NJEP's director. Since 1981, the program has been directed by Lynn Hecht Schafran. Under her leadership, NJEP has produced and presented model judicial curricula used nationally and internationally by judges, attorneys, and other legal professionals within the justice system. Schafran has also published many highly influential articles, essays, and reports in the judicial and legal press. The series includes budgets; contracts; correspondence and memos; grant proposals and completed applications; database and web site development material; notes; program curriculum, drafts, training manuals, and meeting notebooks; material from a 1996 conference; progress reports to the Office on Violence Against Women, State Justice Institute, and Legal Momentum's board of directors; screen shots; study guides; etc. Correspondence focuses on funding and curriculum development, primarily between the State Justice Institute (a sponsor of the program curriculum) and Lynn Hecht Schafran. The program curriculum comprises a series of training manuals and meeting notebooks (workbooks) focused on increasing judicial awareness and understanding of gender bias, racial bias, sexual violence, and sexual assault issues. Also included is material from a DVD project, which reflects Schafran's work on developing and implementing a DVD version of Understanding Sexual Violence: The Judicial Response to Stranger and Nonstranger Rape and Sexual Assault with the State Justice Institute and three production companies: Creative Bubble, Digital Metropolis, and Zuma Digital. Records from the DVD project include applications and grant proposals; budgets; contracts; correspondence and memos; database and web site development; samples of screen shots; study guides; notes; resource material; etc. A series of training manuals on sexual assault designed for the U.S. Air Force is also included. The series is arranged alphabetically by activity or record type, and thereunder chronologically.
Series V, WASHINGTON, D.C., OFFICE, 1981-2008, n.d. (#32.2-106.3), contains material from Legal Momentum's Washington, D.C., office including budgets; campaign/fundraising material; conference material; contact and membership lists; correspondence and memos; fact sheets; legal case files; legislative material; lobby packets; material from press briefings; meeting minutes; notes; planning material; press releases; program booklets, flyers, and pamphlets; proposals and project plans; reports; research and subject files; resource material; speeches; testimony; clippings; etc. The series is divided into five subseries.
Subseries A, Committees and coalitions, 1991-2006, n.d. (#32.2-44.4), includes budgets; campaign/fundraising material; contact and membership lists; correspondence; lobby packets; material from press briefings; meeting minutes; notes; planning material; proposals and project plans; reports; resource material; clippings; etc.; reflecting the public advocacy work of Legal Momentum's committees and membership coalitions. The subseries contains records from such groups as the Building Opportunities Beyond Welfare Reform Coalition, Child Exclusion Task Force, Coalition on Parents and Families, Council of Presidents Affirmative Action Task Force, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, Women's Law Project, Working Group on Domestic Violence and Child Care, and others. Topics include affirmative action, child care, domestic and sexual violence, educational equality, family planning, insurance discrimination, welfare reform, etc. The majority of the records are comprised of committee minutes, notes, and reports, which discuss current legislation and strategies for implementing public advocacy activities. Campaign material highlights strategies to oppose the elimination of affirmative action and the Violence Against Women Act with the Women Won't Go Back (#32.9) and the Women Speak Out (#34.13-34.14) projects; the organizing of a national debate on affordable and quality child care is addressed in the Caring for Kids: Our Lifetime Commitment campaign (#39.4). The subseries is arranged alphabetically by name of committee or coalition, and thereunder chronologically.
Subseries B, Conferences, testimony, and other activities, 1981-2007, n.d. (#44.5-49.4), includes correspondence and memos; planning material; program booklets, flyers, and pamphlets; notes; reports; resource material; etc.; from conferences, press conferences, and other activities either organized by Legal Momentum or in which Legal Momentum participated or attended that focused on women and children's socioeconomic issues. Testimony includes testimony given by Legal Momentum in the areas of child care, violence against women, welfare reform, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, etc., and contains related material (notes, resource material, witness lists, etc.). Also included in the subseries is a collection of annotated contact lists of various women's organizations; a letter of request for help and related material pertaining to a public case on insurance discrimination (#46.7); political strategy material (memos and resource material); project material for two annual publications; and annotated material collected from other meetings. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by activity or record type, and thereunder chronologically.
Subseries C, Legal cases, 1984-2000, n.d. (#49.5-59.7), includes amicus briefs; correspondence and memos; notes; court opinions; resource material; clippings; etc.; from legal cases in which Legal Momentum either provided assistance or direct representation. Topics include abortion rights, affirmative action/civil rights, child exclusion laws, deportation of women immigrants, domestic violence, discrimination in education, gay and lesbian rights, rape, sexual harassment, the Violence Against Women Act, workplace discrimination, etc. The subseries also contains Legal Momentum's case files for its 2000 United States Supreme Court argument on the 1994 Christy Brzonkala rape case at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled the Civil Rights Remedy of the Violence Against Women Act unconstitutional, (including amicus briefs, pleading indices compiled by Lynn Hecht Schafran, research files, etc.). The subseries is arranged alphabetically by name of case.
Subseries D, Legislation, 1990-2008, n.d. (#59.8-82.10), includes correspondence and memos with legislators; notes; annotated drafts of proposed bills and resolutions; resource material; etc.; reflecting Legal Momentum's legislative work. Topics include campus safety; child care; domestic violence; fatherhood rights; the Family Violence Option; hate crimes; healthcare reform; insurance discrimination; protecting the elderly and immigrant women from violence; stalking; welfare; etc. Also included in the subseries is material reflecting Legal Momentum's work on the Violence Against Women Act and contains material on appropriations; contact lists; correspondence; legislative drafts and revisions of Violence Against Women Act bills; meeting minutes, memos, notes, and reports from Violence Against Women Act committees; planning material; press conferences; proposal and project plans to push through legislation; annotated resource material; etc. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by name of legislative act, followed by Violence Against Women Act files arranged alphabetically by topic.
Subseries E, Research and subject files, 1985-2006, n.d. (#82.11-106.3), contains a collection of annotated resource material on such topics as abortion, affirmative action, campus violence, child care, domestic violence, hate crimes, health care, marriage, older women and violence, pay equity, reproductive rights, sexual assault and harassment, stalking, teen pregnancy and violence, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, welfare reform, etc. Interspersed within the resource material are correspondence and memos; fact sheet, flyers, and pamphlets; handbooks; notes; annotated journal articles, press releases, reports, and speeches; clippings; etc., reflecting Legal Momentum's research work on the various topics. The majority of the material focuses on child care, domestic violence, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by topic, and thereunder chronologically.
Series VI, PUBLICITY AND PUBLICATIONS, 1980-2008, n.d. (#106.4-112.7), contains Legal Momentum's series publications: Action Packet (lobby packets), Legal Docket (litigation work), Legal Resource Kit (resource guides), NOW LDEF Briefing Paper (topic papers), and Supreme Court Press Briefings (United States Supreme Court cases); fact sheets; published conference papers; pamphlets and flyers; press releases; research reports; clippings; and other research publications (bibliographies, handbooks, resource guides, etc.) addressing women's legal issues. The series is arranged alphabetically by title of publication.
Series VII, AUDIOVISUAL, 1988-2010, n.d. (Vt-240.1 - Vt-240.22, DVD-73.1 - DVD-73.16), includes videotapes and DVDs of educational and promotional materials, awards ceremonies, interviews, and public service announcements produced by or documenting the work of Legal Momentum. Over half of the videotapes contain educational materials related to raising awareness about sexual violence and rape, in the general public and within the legal system. Lawyers involved with Legal Momentum were instrumental in shaping an instructional series, the National Judicial Education Program, which presented current social science research about rape victims, the neurobiology of trauma, sex offenders, and jury decision-making. Focusing primarily on acquaintance rape, especially on college campuses, the recordings underscore how cultural myths and biases surrounding socially acceptable gendered behavior complicates the manner in which judges and juries assess date rape. Included is research undertaken by experts, such as David Lisak, on the subjects of sex offenders and sexual violence which relayed statistics about the prevalence of unreported date rape on college campuses, "undetected" rapists, recidivism, and the difficulty of successfully treating sex offenders. The program stressed the judges' responsibility in instructing the jury about common misunderstandings of the law, including assumptions that the complainant's behavior placed her at risk and that her body would bear bruises or other evidence of physical trauma. Some recordings include group discussions among judges who shared how they applied the training in their courtrooms and confessed their likelihood of sentencing date rape more leniently than stranger rape. Some tapes contain interviews with rape victims, physicians, and medical experts; these may contain graphic visual images. Also included are interviews with pioneering women lawyers, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Lynn Hecht Schafran; public service announcements produced by Legal Momentum; awards ceremonies; and mainstream media tributes to Legal Momentum that the organization used as promotional material. Tape titles in quotation marks were created by Legal Momentum. The series is arranged first by format and chronologically thereunder.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Abortion--Government policy--United States
Abortion--Law and legislation--United States
Abused women--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States
Annual reports
Associations, institutions, etc.
Birth control--United States
Campus violence--United States
Case files
Child care--United States
Child sexual abuse--United States
Courts--United States--States
Custody of children--United States
Discrimination in justice administration--United States
Drafts (documents)
DVD-Video discs
Economic security--United States
Electronic records
Family violence--Prevention
Family violence--United States
Feminists--United States
Feminist economics--United States
Homelessness--United States
Justice, Administration of--United States
Lawyers--United States
Legal documents
Mifepristone--United States
Pay equity--United States
Poor women--United States
Poverty--United States
Press releases
Pro-choice movement--United States
Public policy and social welfare
Public welfare--United States
Rape--United States
Sex discrimination against women--Law and legislation
Sex discrimination against women--United States
Sex discrimination in education--United States
Sex discrimination in employment--United States
Sex discrimination in insurance--United States
Sex discrimination in justice administration--United States
Sexual harassment--United States
Sexual harassment in education--United States
Trials (Rape)--United States
Violence (Law)--United States
Web sites
Welfare economics
Welfare recipients--Employment--United States
Women--Crimes against--United States
Women--Employment--United States
Women--Health and hygiene--United States
Women immigrants--United States
Women lawyers--United States
Women--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States
Women--United States--Social conditions--20th century
Women--United States--Economic conditions--20th century
Women's rights--United States
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Clinton, Bill, 1946-
Coukos, Pamela, 1968-
Davis, Martha F., 1957-
Goldfarb, Sally F.
Goldscheid, Julie
Gore, Albert, 1948-
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Legal Momentum (Organization)
Legal Services Corporation
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (U.S.)
National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education
National Council of Women's Organizations
National Judicial Education Program to Promote Equality for Women and Men in the Courts
Neuborne, Helen
NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund
Panetta, Leon E., 1938-
Schafran, Lynn Hecht
State Justice Institute (U.S.)
Women's Law Project
Wu, Yolanda, 1967-