Honoring Gloria Steinem ’56 and Supporting Special Collections

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President Kathleen McCartney, Gloria Steinem ’56 and Mona Sinha ’88 in October 2021.

Smith College has named the Special Collections Reading Room in honor of Gloria Steinem ’56 and her remarkable activism. The Steinem Reading Room, located on the third floor of Neilson Library, is a place where students and scholars from around the world will benefit from a shared research space and gain hands-on access to Smith’s unique collections. Special Collections’ women’s history collection, which includes Gloria’s papers, is known for its focus on activist, grassroots and underrepresented women and is one of the most influential women’s history archives in the world.

“Smith College is proud to recognize Gloria Steinem in the new Neilson Library. Gloria has argued, again and again, that documenting the history of activism will promote grassroots organizing, thereby creating meaningful social change. We are grateful for her leadership, her strength and her passion for equality,” says President Kathleen McCartney.

Room with wrap around windows, a low bookcase and big tables

The Gloria Steinem ’56 Special Collections Reading Room on the third floor of the South Wing of the new Neilson Library.

The college and alums are also seeking to endow the Special Collections in Action Fund in Honor of Gloria Steinem ’56. Endowing this special fund will both celebrate Gloria and allow Smith College to preserve, digitize and expand our Special Collections—a critical resource that bears witness to Gloria’s achievements—and make the collections more accessible to activists, students and scholars. In doing so, we will honor Gloria’s commitment to inclusivity in the women’s movement and her wish to recognize and preserve the history of the women she worked alongside. By documenting and providing access to the stories of activists and pioneers, we will also promote collaboration, community and social change.

“Thousands of activists, students, journalists and scholars can continue to rely on this exceptional collection every year,” says Mona Sinha ’88, a Smith trustee emerita and board chair of Women Moving Millions, which funds ideas to create a gender equal world. “It is one more important way to bring Smith’s resources to the world and bring the world to Smith while shining a light on Gloria’s unparalleled role in advancing women’s rights.”

“Smith College is proud to recognize Gloria Steinem in the new Neilson Library. Gloria has argued, again and again, that documenting the history of activism will promote grassroots organizing, thereby creating meaningful social change.” —President Kathleen McCartney

These special honors recognize that Gloria Steinem has been instrumental in growing and shaping Smith’s collection of women’s history to better reflect the diversity of the women’s movement, in keeping with Gloria’s own vision of lifting up all women through her life’s work. Indeed, building networks of activism and solidarity has always been at the heart of Gloria’s work, which makes her connection and collaboration with Smith College and its 53,000-strong network of alums so vital.

Of the naming, Gloria said, “In 1984, I began donating my papers to Smith’s women’s history collection. The work of the college’s Special Collections is deeply important to me and I am proud to both share my work and help tell the stories of women activists for years to come.”

Learn about Smith’s Special Collections and the new Neilson Library. Make a secure donation to the Special Collections in Action Fund or learn about other ways to give.