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Smith Women Among Feminists Who Changed America

It’s no surprise that in a comprehensive directory published this month, titled Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-75, Smith College figures prominently.

This massive volume of 2,220 thumbnail profiles of influential people in the “second wave” feminist movement, was compiled over seven years and edited by Barbara J. Love, a journalist and author of Foremost Women in Communications.

Love worked closely with Sherrill Redmon, head of the Sophia Smith Collection (SSC), in researching and collecting data for the book.

“Barbara consulted with us extensively early in her thinking about doing the survey and book, and at every stage,” Redmon said, including constructing databases and administering questionnaires, even in settling on a title for the book. Materials in the SSC were consulted for many of the book’s entries, says Redmon.

“Many of the entries end with the notation that the woman’s papers are coming to the SSC,” Redmon notes. “While I haven’t counted, it appears that more are set to come to Smith than to any other archives.”

In addition, Love’s papers, as well as the questionnaires that provided the book’s content, will become part of the SSC holdings. Redmon and the SSC are mentioned high in the book’s acknowledgements.

Among the entries, Smith women are well-represented. First of all, the book begins with 1963 precisely as the year the second wave of feminism kicked off, spurred in part by the publication of The Feminine Mystique, the history-changing book by Betty Friedan ’42, who was also a founder and the first president of the National Organization for Women.

Of course, Gloria Steinem ’56, who entered the women’s movement with her first address to feminists in 1970, warrants a sizeable biography. Co-founder and editor of Ms. Magazine, Steinem became a leader of the movement as co-founder of the Ms. Foundation for Women, NWPC, the Women’s Action Alliance, and Voters for Choice.

Other Smith women profiled in the book include Catharine MacKinnon ’69, a law professor, writer and activist; Claire Goldberg Moses ’63, a professor of women’s studies and editorial director of Feminist Studies; Martha Ackelsberg, professor of government at Smith and a founding member of the New York Women’s Health Collective in 1970; and several more.

“This book had to be written,” writes Love in the introduction. “More than any other social revolution in history, ours grew from the struggles of thousands of individuals to erase thousands of separate forms of discrimination in every sector of society.”

Feminists Who Changed America is the most comprehensive directory to profile the women responsible for that historical movement, according to the publisher.

The book will soon be available in Neilson Library’s reference section. In the meantime, a copy is available at the SSC reading room, Alumnae Gymnasium. To order a copy, call the Chicago distributor at 800-621-2736.

11/30/06   By Eric Sean Weld
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