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Guide to the National Organization for Women, New York City Chapter (NOW-NYC) Records TAM.106

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Sarah Griffin in 1997. Series XIII added by Rachel Schimke in 2012. Edited by Bonnie Gordon for DACS compliancy and to reflect the incorporation of nonprint materials in March 2014.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 18, 2022
Finding aid is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Heather Mulliner to reflect incorporation of 2016 accession. Edited by Amy C. Vo for compliance with ACM Required Elements for Archival Description. Edited by Weatherly Stephan to note missing materials in Series XI. Updated by Rachel Mahre to state some audiovisual materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons. Updated by Lyric Evans-Hunter to reflect the digitization of some audiovisual materials. Edited by Nicole Greenhouse for additional administration information and the incorporation of archived websites.  , September 2016 , June 2019 , November 2019 , May 2021 , January 2022 , May 2022

Historical Note

In 1966, Betty Friedan founded the National Organization for Women in Washington, D.C., a group whose goal was to "bring women into the mainstream of American society." Three years earlier, her book The Feminine Mystique had hit a nerve with American women (largely white, upper class women), whose discontent with their economic and social opportunities would result in the feminist social activism of the 1960s and 1970s. Not long after the national organization was formed, the New York Chapter was founded in 1967. It was the founding chapter and, arguably in its early days, the most influential chapter, as its victories in New York rippled out into the rest of the country. The motivating force for its early organizing efforts was largely related to employment discrimination in hiring practices and discrepancy in wages between men and women--one of NOW-N.Y.C.'s early victories was the elimination of sex-segregated help-wanted advertisements in the  New York Times. However, from its inception, the group was multi-issue, functioning through a committee structure that included committees on the arts, child care, education, employment, the image of women in the media, legislation and politics, reproductive rights, and sexuality.

NOW-N.Y.C. sponsored large-scale marches and strikes, such as the well-known "Women Strike for Equality" march August 26, 1970 in New York City, which became an annual event for NOW for several years. Early on the group focused on media-attention-getting tactics to make its relatively small ranks look larger, such as the "flush-in" outside the offices of Colgate-Palmolive to protest discrimination in hiring practices. The organization also used such mainstream democratic tactics as lobbying legislators, collecting petitions, and sending mass mailings to the White House to put pressure on government officials. The chapter participated in an annual state lobby day with NOW-New York State. In the 1980s, NOW created a group called WomanPower PAC, a political action committee formed to raise money to elect women and feminist leaders to elected office. The first four presidents of NOW-NYC were Jean Faust, Ti Grace Atkinson, Ivy Bottini and Jacqueline Ceballos (the latter in 1971).

The Education Committee studied the course offerings of girls and boys in New York public schools in the 1970s, and its report was so much in demand, it went into four printings. New York schools and schools across the country began changing their course offerings as a result of this committee's work. In the mid-seventies it began addressing the issue of rape, and its Rape Prevention Committee was one of the first of its kind, offering myriad services to victims of rape and battery and changing the public perception of rape and rape victims. In the late 1970s and 1980s, NOW-N.Y.C.'s employment focus broadened to include career-training workshops and referral services for employers.

The struggle for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment began in the early 1970s and gained momentum throughout the decade. In the years before the deadline for ratification, the issue took center stage for NOW-N.Y.C., and the ERA Committee reached out to other states to aid in the battles for ratification in state legislatures. In the areas of the arts and the image of women in the media, NOW fought for a dignified representation of women. The group's Image Committee influenced changes in print media advertising, and the Arts Committee called attention to the discrimination against women in the art world. The organization continues its mission of equality for women in New York City. For information on the actions, events, and tactics of the committees, please see the descriptions below each committee heading.