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Research & Inquiry June 27, 2018

Jane Fonda Donates Papers to Smith

Story updated: October 24, 2018
Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda

A remarkable collection of letters, documents, movies and other material documenting the life of acclaimed actor and activist Jane Fonda is now available to scholars and members of the general public through Smith’s Sophia Smith Collection.

The multiple Academy Award winner has donated her material to Smith, where it joins collections from other influential women—including Gloria Steinem ’56, Clara Barton, Margaret Sanger and Loretta Ross—in one of the world’s largest and oldest archives of women’s history.

The material that Fonda has donated reflects her extraordinary impact on American life—and especially on the lives of women—in a remarkably wide range of fields, from acting and film, to political activism, to fitness and body image.

Comprising 132 boxes and covering the years from 1932 to 2016, the collection includes biographical items, correspondence, writings, photographs, audiovisual materials, memorabilia and material related to Fonda’s professional life.

Among the highlights: digitized audio and video from Fonda’s 1974 documentary, Introduction to the Enemy; a cloth hat with multiple political buttons and a patch that says “Veteran of the ’60s”; correspondence from veterans and fans; annotated versions of Fonda’s 2004 autobiography, My Life So Far; and organizational materials related to GCAPP (Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential), Fonda’s organization that focuses on improving the overall health and well-being of young people in Georgia.

Also included is Fonda’s FBI file.

“History sometimes doesn’t do a good job of remembering or sharing women’s stories,” Fonda noted. “And as I worked on my book, I became aware that there are chapters of my life that would be of interest to people—people who care about acting or film or education or the anti-war movement. The Sophia Smith Collection is one of the world’s best collections of women’s histories—dedicated to making the stories of women from all walks of life accessible to scholars and the general public. I’m so pleased that this material from my life now stands alongside that of Gloria Steinem, Alison Bechdel, Loretta Ross and others. I hope others will find it useful.”

“Smith is honored to be able to include this collection from one of the world’s leading actors and activists in its archive,” said Beth Myers, director of special collections at Smith. “Ms. Fonda’s papers reflect the extraordinary influence she has had in our nation’s history—not just in the U.S., but around the world. Her collection is critical to our understanding of so many important stories—stories related to women in film, to the Vietnam War, to activism and education, women’s equality and more. We’re pleased and grateful to make this material available.”

About Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda is a two-time Academy Award-winning actress (Best Actress in 1971 for Klute and in 1978 for Coming Home), author, activist and fitness guru. Her career has spanned over 50 years, accumulating a body of film work that includes over 45 films and crucial work on behalf of political causes, women’s rights, Native Americans and the environment. As three-time Golden Globe winner, Honorary Palme d’Or honoree and 2014 recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award, Fonda continues her career by currently starring in Netflix’s hit series Grace & Frankie, which premiered its fourth season in January. She received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the 2017 Emmys for the third season of the series. In January 2018 Fonda premiered Jane Fonda in Five Acts, a documentary chronicling her life and her activism, at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. She was most recently seen on the big screen in Paramount’s comedy Book Club, in which she stars alongside Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen. Fonda celebrated her 80th birthday by raising $1 million for each of her nonprofits, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and The Women’s Media Center.

About the Sophia Smith Collection

The Sophia Smith Collection is one of the world’s oldest and most diverse repositories of the history of women changing the world. Through the collection, students and scholars can peer into the creation of the women’s liberation movement through the papers of Gloria Steinem ’56, learn about creating queer community from Alison Bechdel’s cartoons, and explore fighting for the full human rights of all people from Loretta Ross’ papers. The Sophia Smith Collection documents women’s involvement in suffrage, the abolition of slavery, access to reproductive care and the fight for reproductive justice, the creation of feminist artist networks, and many other domains where women have changed life for everyone.

About Smith College

Founded in 1871, Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction, developing leaders for society’s challenges. One of the largest women’s liberal arts colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,600 students from nearly every state and more than 60 other countries.