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Archives and Special Collections: Women

A guide to historical materials housed in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department.

Women Collections

  Club Founders' Day and the 15th Anniversary of the Faculty Wives, from left to right, Mrs. L. I. Schoonover, Mrs. W. S. Lake, Mrs. J. K. Stevenson, Mrs. C. S. Ell, Mrs. W. C. White, Mrs. E. O. Smith, Mrs. M. J. Schlagenhauf, Mrs. C. W. Havice, and Mrs. T. H. Wallace in Mitton Lounge, 1956. Photograph from the Northeastern University Photograph Collection.Cover from the Female Liberation Newsletter, 1969, from the Female Liberation: A Radical Feminist Organization Collection.March For Women's Lives, 1986.  Photograph by Ellen Shub from the Reproductive Rights National Network Collection.

Abortion Action Coalition (Boston, Mass.) Records

  • The Abortion Action Coalition (1970-1980), a project of the Women's Educational Center (Cambridge, MA), was established to oppose the Doyle-Flynn anti-abortion amendment, which proposed cutting state funding for abortions. The Coalition expanded its focus to other women’s right issues, including birth control, child care, maternity leave, reproductive rights, and teenage pregnancy.

Catherine L. Allen Papers

  • Educator Catherine L. Allen (1909-2000) was chair of Northeastern’s recreation education department, dean of Boston-Bouvé College from 1967-1977, and special assistant to Northeastern University President Kenneth Ryder from 1977 to 1981.

Emma Jean Lang Avery Papers

  • Emma Jean Lang Avery (1893-1980) attended Northeastern University's Evening School of Law from September 1923 to June 1927, and received her LLB in 1927.

Boston Area Feminist Coalition Records

  • The Boston Area Feminist Coalition (1981-1983) was established to build unity among feminists, organize successfully against the New Right, build a network to more effectively communicate with each other, and create a political discourse that acknowledged the differences among women, such as race, class and sexual orientation.

Boston-Bouvé College Records

  • Founded in 1913 as the Boston School of Physical Education, Boston-Bouvé College was a school for the instruction of women in physical education. In 1930, the Bouvé–Boston School of Physical Education affiliated with Simmons College, and in 1942 was affiliated with Tufts University. The College merged with Northeastern University in 1964 and expanded its curricula to include programs in health professions, nursing, and pharmacy.

Boston Coalition of Black Women Records

  • Chartered as the Boston Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 1991, the Boston Coalition of Black Women, Inc. provides African American women in Boston with a social and political forum, and the resources to become involved in the community through education, social, economic, and civil action.

Boston Women's Music Collective Records

  • The Boston Women's Music Collective (1975-ca. 1979) in Somerville, Massachusetts to support women's music and women composers, musicians, and performers.

Boston Women's Pentagon Action

  • Founded in 1980, the Boston Women's Pentagon Action (BWPA) was a local chapter of the Woman's Pentagon Action, a decentralized, national feminist organization focused on anti-military, environmental, and social activism. The BWPA participated in national rallies, protests, discussions, artistic events, and civil disobedience training sessions until it disbanded in 1986. Additional unprocessed material available.

Boston Women's Union Records

  • Founded in 1973 as the Boston Area Socialist Feminist Organization, the Boston Women’s Union facilitated communication and coordination among existing women's groups, established a visible socialist feminist political presence in Boston, and educated others about socialist feminism until it disbanded in 1976.

Marjorie Bouvé Papers

  • A leader in physical education, Marjorie Bouvé (1879-1970) founded and served as director of the Bouvé School from 1925 until 1930 when she assumed the directorship at the Bouvé-Boston School of Physical Education, a position she held until 1948. Bouvé-Boston School of Physical Education was the precursor to Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.

Melnea A. Cass Papers

  • Community and civil rights activist, Melnea Agnes Cass (1896-1978), was known as "The First Lady of Roxbury."

Coalition to Stop Institutional Violence Records

  • The Coalition to Stop Institutional Violence (1975-1988) was founded to oppose the establishment of a special unit for violent women at Worcester State Hospital. It also protested the establishment of other such special units at the Worcester Regional Adolescent Program, an Adult Psychiatric Unit and later a Pediatric Psychiatric Unit at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Framingham.

The Coalition to Take Back the Night Records

  • In 1978 a group of women from Boston area community organizations gathered to organize demonstrations opposing acts of intimidation and violence against women. The focus of Take Back the Night has widened to include gay and lesbian rights, gender equality, sexuality in culture, and date rape education.

Carolyn W. Darack Papers

  • Carolyn “Hooky” W. Darack was an activist in the Boston area for social rights and public health. During the 1950's she worked with Ehrmann on abolishing capital punishment in Massachusetts.

Sara R. Ehrmann Papers

  • Civic leader and capital punishment abolitionist Sara R. Ehrmann (1895-1993) was a key leader of the Massachusetts Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty and the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment.

Female Liberation: A Radical Feminist Organization Records

  • Founded in 1968 by female activists, Female Liberation was established to create a community that worked for and supported women’s issues in the Boston area. The organization also published The Second Wave magazine. In 1974, Female Liberation disbanded into three groups, The Second Wave Journal, I Am Woman radio show, and a third group that planned to publish an unnamed female liberation newspaper.

Frieda Garcia Papers [unprocessed]

  • Frieda Garcia is a Hispanic activist and community leader in Boston and worked with many local organizations including the United South End Settlements, La Alianza Hispana, and the Roxbury Multi-Service Center.

Greater Boston Chapter of the Older Women's League Records

  • Founded in 1980, O.W.L. is a national grassroots organization focusing on improving the status and quality of life for midlife and older women.

Blanche Feder Hume Collection [unprocessed]

  • Blanche Hume graduated from the Boston School of Physical Education (later named the Boston-Bouvé School) in 1929.

Elma Ina Lewis Papers

  • Elma Ina Lewis (1921-2004) taught dance, drama, and speech therapy, and established the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in 1950, the National Center of Afro-American Artists in 1968, and the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in 1969.

Minnie L. Lynn Papers

  • A leader and scholar of physical education, Minnie Lynetta Lynn (1902-1990) was director of the Bouvé-Boston School and orchestrated the School’s merger with Northeastern University to form the Boston–Bouvé College, now called the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. She served as dean of the new college from 1964 to 1967.

Helen Mahut Papers [unprocessed]

  • Helen Mahut was a professor of Psychology at Northeastern University for twenty-three years. Considered a pioneer in the field of behavioral and cognitive neurosciences, she engaged in research at M.I.T. before continuing her work at NU.

Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women's Service Groups Collection

  • Founded in 1978, the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women's Service Groups was established to support battered women and to combat domestic violence in Massachusetts. In 1998, the Coalition merged with the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault to form Jane Doe, Inc.

Jean McGuire Records [unprocessed]

  • Jean McGuire is the executive director of Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating racial imbalance in suburban public schools. She also served on the Boston School Committee.

Mobilization for Survival: Feminist Task Force Records

  • Mobilization for Survival: Feminist Task Force (1985-1987) was a sub group of the Boston chapter of Mobilization for Survival, an organization dedicated to nuclear disarmament and peace, to address women's issues within the anti-militarist and anti-nuclear movements and to bring those issues into feminist organizations in Boston.

Northeastern University, Committee on the Status of Women Records

  • The Committee on the Status of Women at Northeastern University was established in 1985 to explore issues of concern to full-time female employees by conducting surveys. The survey called “Women Working at NU” shed light on the employees' thoughts concerning sexual harassment, career advancement, discrimination, and equal pay for equal work.

Northeastern University, Faculty Wives Records

  • Northeastern University's Faculty Wives (1941-1970) was established to promote social contact among the wives of the University's faculty through sponsored back-to-school celebrations, holiday fund-raising parties, and spring luncheons.

Northeastern University, 50th Anniversary of Undergraduate Women Records

  • In May 1993, Northeastern’s Women's Studies Program and Office of University Relations organized events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first women enrolled in Northeastern’s undergraduate day division in 1943 and to honor all the undergraduate women of Northeastern. The celebration included three major events: a reunion for the women who enrolled in 1943, a speech by Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization of Women (NOW), and a discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker.

Doris Shalit Oberg Papers

  • Doris Oberg (1912-1993) was a graduate of the Forsyth Dental Infirmary for Children and the wife of Rudolf Oberg, former director of the Alumni Affairs at Northeastern. Additional unprocessed material available.

The Oral History Center Records

  • Initiated in 1982 as the Cambridge Women's Quilt Project, The Oral History Center collected the stories of groups often overlooked by history, including women, children, immigrants, and minorities, in the Cambridge and Boston area. In 1995, the Center became affiliated with Northeastern University and moved onto its campus, ceasing operations in 1998.

Katherine G. Osborne Papers

  • Katherine Gillette Osborne (1910-1943), a missionary and avid traveler, collected resources on art and architecture and founded the Boston Students Union in 1910.

Carmen A. Pola Papers

  • Latina activist Carmen A. Pola (b. 1939) worked with local groups and community organizations including La Raza Educators, Young Catholic Workers, Committee for Defense of Bilingual Education (Comité de Padres pro Defensa de la Educación Bilingüe), and Community District I Advisory Council. She directed the Project to Monitor the Code of Discipline at the Massachusetts Advocacy Center, a program to oversee the city–wide implementation of the 1980 Code of Discipline, a set of uniform rules and regulations enacted by the Boston School Committee to counteract the high rate of suspensions involving minority students. She was liaison to Boston’s Hispanic community during Raymond Flynn's successful mayoral bid in 1983, the first director of Constituent Services under Flynn’s administration, and later served as his senior advisor on human needs.

Kelley Ready Papers

  • Human rights activist and anthropology professor Kelley Ready worked with the Friends of Committee of Mothers and Relatives of Political Prisoners, Disappeared and Assassinated of El Salvador, Monsignor "Oscar Arnulfo Romero" (CoMadres). She was also a visiting assistant professor at Northeastern from 2000 to 2002.

Reproductive Rights National Network Records

  • The Boston chapter of the Reproductive Rights National Network was established in 1978 to increase access to safe and affordable abortions, work against the compulsive sterilization of "unfit" mothers, and advocate for the rights of LGBT couples to foster, adopt, and raise children until it ceased operations in 1995.

Phyllis M. Ryan Papers

  • Social justice and political activist Phyllis M. Ryan (1927-1998) supported school desegregation, prison reform, welfare reform, the establishment of disability rights, and civil rights organizations, such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

The Second Wave: A Magazine of the New Feminism Records

  • The Second Wave: A Magazine for the New Feminism (1971-1983) was produced by the Boston-based organization Female Liberation until it became a free-standing publication after the dissolution of Female Liberation in 1974. The magazine published poetry, stories, graphics, and articles that expressed a wide range of feminist viewpoints.

Sister Courage Records

  • Sister Courage (1974-1978) was a newspaper dedicated to providing a forum where Boston area women could contribute their experiences and ideas while developing feminist theory and strategy.

Muriel S. and Otto P. Snowden Papers

  • African American social workers Muriel S. Snowden (1916-1988) and Otto P. Snowden (1914-1995) were the founders and co-directors of Freedom House, a center for neighborhood improvement and community activism in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Somerville (Mass.) Women's Educational Center, Inc.Records

  • The Somerville Women's Educational Center (1976-1983) sponsored educational activities, offered instructional classes on various subjects, and maintained a reference library for women. Several organizations evolved out of the Center, including the Matching Services Project, the Mothers Group, the Women's Chorus, and the Somerville Women Against Rape.

Sondra Gayle Stein Papers

  • Educator and activist Sondra Gayle Stein was a member of several organizations in Boston, Massachusetts during the 1970s-1980s that addressed women's rights and concerns, including the Abortion Action Coalition, an organization that focused on issues of birth control, maternity leave, teen pregnancy, and child care, and the Coalition for Women's Safety which raised awareness about violence against women in Boston.

Helen M. Sullivan Papers [unprocessed]

  • Helen M. Sullivan received a Bachelor's Degree in Law from Northeastern in 1938 and a Master's Degree in Law in 1953. Sullivan worked as an assistant assessor in the Boston Assessor's Office In 1975, Sullivan received the School of Law Distinguished Alumna Award.

Judith Tick Papers [unprocessed]

  • Judith Tick is the Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Music at Northeastern University. Tick is an authority on American music and the history of women in music. She has written numerous books on both subjects and has won many awards for her scholarship.

Travelers Aid Family Services of Boston Records

  • Established in 1916, Travelers Aid Family Services mission was "to provide information, advice, guidance, and protection to all travelers, who by reason of unfamiliarity with the city, inexperience, unemployment, illness, infirmity, or other disability are in need of assistance or adjustment to the community." Currnently, its mission is to "prevent and end homelessness, one family at a time."

West Roxbury (Mass.) Women's Club Records

  • Founded in 1911, the West Roxbury Women's Club’s mission was to promote education and philanthropy, and to encourage united thought and action for social service.

Women against Violence against Women (Boston, Mass.) Records,

  • The Boston chapter of Women against Violence against Women (1977-1984) was formed in response to a billboard advertisement for the "Black and Blue" album by the Rolling Stones to protest the glorification and acceptance of violence against women as promoted by the film and recording industries.

Women's Action Coalition (Boston, Mass.) Records,

  • The Women's Action Coalition chapter in Boston (1992-1996) was committed to taking direct action on issues related to the rights of women. Members of the organization participated in marches, rallies, and demonstrations supporting abortion rights, breast cancer awareness, lesbian and gay rights, and welfare rights.

The Women's Coffeehouse Records

  • Established by a group of women affiliated with the Women's Educational Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Women's Coffeehouse (1979-1989) was founded to provide a space for women to enjoy safely cultural activities and to spark discourse about their shared issues and concerns. The Coffeehouse sponsored performances that included local musicians, writers, speakers and activists such as Hillary Kay, Nancy Aberle, Beth Hodges, Linda Brown, Pamela Gray, Sharon Kennedy, and Betsy Zelchin.

Women's Educational Center (Cambridge, Mass.) Records

  • Established in 1971, the Women's Educational Center provides women with resources and support needed to overcome conditions of domestic violence, sexual abuse, poverty, discrimination, social isolation, and degradation.

Women's Institute for Leadership Development Records

  • Founded in 1986, the Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) is a multicultural women's organization. Its mission is to increase the number and diversity of women leaders in the Massachusetts labor movement and increase their effectiveness as organizers in their unions and community organizations.

Women's School (Cambridge, Mass.) Records

  • The Women’s School (1972-1992) was founded as an alternative school of feminist education, and its ideologies were based on socialist feminism. The School offered classes on topics including anti-racism, auto mechanics, growing up female, international women's struggles, lesbianism, Marxism, and older women.