WANTED: Chicago Area Feminists, 1960s - 1980s


"The world as we know it would not exist without the women …thousands and thousands who were a part of this empowering movement."

Acknowledged in the Feminist Who Changed
directory, activists stood to a round of
applause. photo: Karen Kring

Mary Jean Collins, a founder of Chicago NOW, addressed a standing - room only crowd in the Chicago History Museum, thanking Chicago area feminists, "without whose work none of us would be here". She further acknowledged the historians and archivists preparing to capture "our legacy for future generations." Together, the Veteran Feminists of America and the Chicago Area Women's History Council* organized a collaborative event on March 16th, 2008 to reunite feminists and to launch the CAWHC's new project, Documenting the Women's Movement in Chicago, 1960s-1980s.

Earlier, historian, Sara M. Evans of the University of Minnesota and Tidal Wave fame, elaborated on the unique character of Chicago activism during this 20 year period. A panel discussion featuring Evans, Collins, and Chicago - area archivist, Elizabeth Myers, of Loyola's Gannon Center and Erin McCarthy, Oral Historian gave the audience the opportunity to ask questions about the importance and procedures of preserving our history. Afterwards, the more than 160 attendees shared a congratulatory cake, as well as their reminiscences, with historians and would - be archivists and oral interviewers to honor the Chicago "Feminists Who Changed America."

The "Documenting" project will attempt to further uncover the stories that Editor Barbara Love relayed in the "Feminists Who Changed America" directory. CAWHC plans:

  • to provide an accessible online database about the movement,
  • to encourage feminists to donate historical papers to permanent archival collections,
  • to support oral history interviews with significant movement personalities who were active in the Chicago area.

Estelle Carol, Bob Simpson and friends listen to the importance of preserving Feminists materials from the 1960s-1980s. photo: Rene Edde

As explained by Mary Ann Johnson, President of CAWHC, "the project will provide the first comprehensive survey of significant Chicago area personalities, issues, organizations, actions, institutions, legislative initiatives and cultural innovations that contributed to change during this exciting period in the city's history. CAWHC will serve as a central registry for information about resources and as a catalyst for projects undertaken by the community."

If you participated in the Chicago's Women's movement, 1960s - 1980s and have experiences or materials to share please fill out the form on the www.cawhc.org website.

* The Chicago Area Women's History Council is a non - profit, membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and preservation of women's history.

Submitted by Mary-Ann Lupa, VFA Board

This event was co-organized by VFA: Mary-Ann Lupa, Karen Boehning, Estelle Carol, Amy Laiken, Kathy Rand, Bob Simpson, Wilma Stevens, Bette Vidina.