National Congress of Neighborhood Women









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National Congress of Neighborhood Women (1975-  )

National Congress of Neighborhood Women
NCNW brochure, undated.
Copyright: NCNW

Photograph: March on City Hall

Photograph: Neighborhood Scene

Community leadership training poster

NCNW Brochure
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Finding aid

The history of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW) begins with the remarkable vision and energy of Jan Peterson, co-founder and long-time director of NCNW, as well as the spirit and commitment of the neighborhood women in the Williamsburg-Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, NY.

In 1975, at a national conference of working class women in Washington, D.C., Jan Peterson got together with other grassroots leaders and professional women to found the "the first national federation of blue collar, neighborhood women." The national office was established in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a National Board of professional and grassroots leaders, representing affiliated women's organizations across the country. Their primary goal was to empower poor and working class women to become community leaders -- to give them a voice, and to raise their consciousness of their own power so they would be better able to define and solve problems facing their communities. They aimed to accomplish this through education, as well as job skills and leadership training, with an emphasis on preserving family and community.

NCNW has developed a network of grassroots women leaders and organizations from urban and rural communities across the country, including Appalachia, the Pacific Northwest, the Dakota Nation, and Puerto Rico. Members exchange information, resources, and share experiences relating to issues such as tenant organizing, the formation of rural land trusts, reforming public schools, and creating leadership support groups.

The NCNW Records consist of 60 linear feet, dating from 1974 to 1996. They document NCNW's early history; national and international programs; and local programs in Brooklyn, N.Y. The collection offers valuable source material for the study of grassroots activism; working-class feminist organizing; urban studies; and women in community development. They are also a rich source of material on the formation of an organization based on feminist principles, offering a fascinating view of its inner workings, with all of the personal and political dynamics that come with incorporating a feminist consciousness into an organization, where issues of class, race and ethnicity are acknowledged and openly discussed. This is a continuing collection.


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