Documenting key feminists who ignited the second wave women's movement
Barbara J. Love’s Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975 will be the first comprehensive directory to document many of the founders and leaders (including both well-known and grassroots organizers) of the second wave women's movement. It tells the stories of more than two thousand individual women and a few notable men who together reignited the women's movement and made permanent changes to entrenched customs and laws.
The biographical entries on these pioneering feminists represent their many factions, all parts of the country, all races and ethnic groups, and all political ideologies. Nancy Cott's foreword discusses the movement in relation to the earlier first wave and presents a brief overview of the second wave in the context of other contemporaneous social movements.
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About the Author
Barbara Love has worked as an editor, writer, and journalist, and is currently a member of the board of the Veteran Feminists of America. She is the author of Foremost Women in Communications and coauthor of Sappho Was a Right On Woman.
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Feminists Who Changed America 1963â"1975
By Barbara J. Love
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS PRESSCopyright © 2006 Barbara J. Love
All rights reserved.
Aalfs, Janet Elizabeth (1956 –) Before she was 16, Aalfs had read her older sister's copy of Sisterhood Is Powerful; with her mother had participated in activities that led to the establishment of a women's center in New Bedford, MA; and had some of her poems published in Southeastern Massachusetts University's women's center newsletter. As a first-year student at Hampshire College (1974), Aalfs joined the women's center and enrolled in women's studies at the University of Massachusetts (which shared classes with Hampshire and other area colleges). After coming out, Aalfs helped found a women's writing group, then two lesbian writing groups, Calypso Borealis and the Tuesday Night Lesbian Writers Group, as well as Orogeny Press, which published one fiction/poetry anthology and three books of lesbian poetry. In 1978, she began practicing martial arts and was a founding member of Valley Women's Martial Arts and the Institute for Healing and Violence Prevention Strategies, as well as the National Women's Martial Arts Federation. She has served as a director of VWMA/HAVPS since 1982 and was a board member and instructor of NWMAF since 1980. Aalfs holds a B.A. and M.F.A. Archives: The Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA. (ABS)
Aalfs, Joann (1923 –) A graduate of Bennington College (1945), Aalfs studied at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and served with her husband in various Presbyterian ministries, including Salem, NY, and Kasur, Pakistan, 1951–1952. In New Bedford, MA, in 1963, Aalfs and other mothers got together and organized political rallies and social events and eventually found a meeting space in the YWCA. They started the Women's Awareness Group and a small newsletter, "Rough Draft," which put their own stories in a larger context. Aalfs worked with a small group of women starting the New Bedford Women's Center (1972), worked with Women and Violence (1976 –1977), and Southeastern Massachusetts University Women's Center (1972–1978). In 1980, Aalfs escaped what she describes as an abusive marriage and took refuge at the Battered Women's Shelter in Springfield, MA. In 2004, she and other lesbians in New Bedford and Northampton were finding ways to make community more of a reality in their everyday lives. Aalfs, born in St. Paul, MN, has four children. Archives: New Bedford Women's Center and The Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA. (ABS)
Aarli, Helen (1926 –) joined Chicago Women's Liberation Union in 1970. The next year, she established a consciousness raising group of "older women" (self-defined) within CWLU who decided that rape would be their issue. Later joined by some law students and a local attorney, Renee Hanover, the group realized that to change the picture for rape victims, they had to confront three institutions: the hospitals, the police and the courts. They were successful on all counts: a hospital that had not previously accepted rape victims eventually did; the police changed a rape manual they were using that was highly biased against the victim; and the courts began providing special training for attorneys handling rape cases and included female lawyers. In 1974, Aarli's group established Chicago Legal Action for Women and became lay advocates for women who could not face the court scene alone. They also started a rape crisis line in Chicago. In addition, Aarli inspired Lee Phillips, who hosted a noon television show in Chicago, to make the film "The Rape of Paulette," the true story of a young African American woman who was gang-raped after daring to go out dancing alone. Prior to joining the women's movement, Aarli was active in fair housing. Working within her community and with assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Todd, she participated in a successful anti-discrimination suit brought against a real estate board in Chicago in the 1960s. Aarli, who is a retired teacher and intergenerational program director, has two children and holds two master degrees. (ABS)
Abbott, Sidney Afton (1937 –) says her childhood as an "Army brat" opened her eyes to the reality that different groups of people have different opportunities. She joined NOW in 1969 and was one of the first to speak out on behalf of lesbian rights on panels at the New York NOW chapter and at Columbia University. One of the Lavender Menace, a group that "came out" at the Second Congress to Unite Women and protested the treatment of lesbians in the early women's movement, she co-authored (with Barbara Love) Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism (Stein & Day, 1971). In the mid 1970s she joined Love to lobby for a NOW national task force to address lesbian issues. Although a lesbian task force was eventually established, NOW originally named it the sexuality and lesbian task force, with Abbott serving as co-chair with a heterosexual woman. At the highly politicized NOW Philadelphia national conference in 1976, Abbott used Robert's Rules to bring a resolution to the convention floor at a "time certain" that gave the task force 1 percent of the total NOW budget. One of only two resolutions to get to the floor, it was passed. Abbott served as a founding member of the board of directors of the National Gay Task Force (now known as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force). She led a successful effort to increase the number of lesbian board members to equal that of gay men. Abbott was named by the Manhattan borough president to be the first openly gay person on a community planning board, and served as a program analyst in two departments of New York City government. She served as co-chair of NYPAC. She has also been active in local politics on the North Fork of Long Island, NY. A journalist and technical writer, Abbott attended Smith College for three years and graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1961. She attended graduate school, studying urban planning, at Columbia University. Archives: The Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA. (ABS)
Aber, Ita (1932 –) Born in Montreal, Canada, Aber says her first exposure to feminism came from her mother, an early feminist and the founder of the Milk Fund of Canada, and her grandmother, who was an early suffragist in Canada. A multimedia artist, textile conservator and Jewish Art historian, Aber was a founding member of the New York Feminist Art Institute. Her work has been exhibited widely in the United States and Canada. Beginning in 1972, and for 20 years thereafter, she taught needlework to women at the Jewish Museum, NY; Cooper-Hewitt Museum, NY; Embroiderers Guild, various chapters; the Valentine Museum, Richmond, VA; and the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework, which she founded. This effort was focused on encouraging women to express themselves, their femaleness and respect for their labor. Aber became politically active in 1964 through her involvement with the Reform Democratic movement to abolish laws restricting abortion in New York State. She was among the founding group of Women Strike for Peace, was an early supporter of efforts to clean up the Hudson River, and has worked over the years to be involved with conservation and environmental groups. She has actively supported the ERA, the rights of working women and older women, and minority rights. Aber is a graduate of Empire State College, and has an M.A. equivalent in Jewish Art. She has three children. Archives: Archives of American Art, New York, NY. and the National Museum of Women in Art, Washington, D.C. (ABS)
Abod, Jennifer (1946 –) An activist in New Haven (CT) Women's Liberation (1969 – 1979), Abod was a cofounder of and singer in New Haven Women's Liberation Rock Band (1970 –1976). Highly political in nature, the band once played in front of the White House for a women's liberation march on Washington, and at Niantic State Prison, where Erica Huggins was incarcerated. With Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band, the group recorded Mountain Moving Day (Rounder Records, 1972), which meant that feminists could dance to feminists making music. With Virginia Blaisdell, Abod was a contributor to an article by Naomi Weisstein called "Feminist Rock: No More Balls and Chains," published in 1972 in Ms. magazine. She was also a co-writer of "The Liberation of Lydia," the first feminist radio soap opera (1970), and was the first woman in Connecticut to host a nightly AM radio talk program, "The Jennifer Abod Show," which she ran for four years (1977 – 1980). Abod was a founding member of Women's Health Advocates. She, with Esta Soler and Laura Ponsor Sporazzi, interviewed many women in drug treatment programs in the Northeast, resulting in a critical look at how women were treated, "The ABC's of Drug Treatment for Women" (Stash Capsules: The Student Association for the Study of Hallucinogens, May 1976). In 1988, Abod created Profile Productions to produce and distribute media featuring feminist activists and cultural workers, particularly women of color and lesbians who influence broad constituencies. She completed her first feature video documentary in 2002, "The Edge of Each Other's Battles: The Vision of Audre Lorde," screened in national and international venues beginning in 2003. Abod has a B.S. from Southern Illinois University, an M.S. from Southern Connecticut State College, and a Ph.D. from Union Institute and University. Archives: The Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA. (ABS)
Abod, Susan Gayle (1951 –) was a member of Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band—as a singer, bass player and songwriter. In 1972, the group recorded an LP, Mountain Moving Day, with New Haven Women's Liberation Rock Band. Abod attended the first Champaign Women's Music Festival and later produced several women-only concerts in Chicago. She recorded on Casse Culver's 3 Gypsies album (1976) and on two of Willie Tyson's, titled Debutante (1977), and Willie Tyson (1979). She performed with Tyson and Robin Flowers at the Michigan Women's Festival, and went on several tours of the East and West Coasts. In 1982, she completed a six-week solo tour in Europe, organized by the German women's music distributors, singing in women's shelters, bookstores, rape crisis centers, women's bars and women's centers. Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities in 1986, she nonetheless was able to contribute to the creation of the play, "Alive with Aids," for which she wrote and performed "In the Moment" and "Soliloquy." She wrote and produced an hour-long video documentary, "Funny You Don't Look Sick: Autobiography of an Illness," about her own and other women's experiences with these illnesses. The video took three years to complete and premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 1995. In 2004, she produced/recorded a solo CD of her original songs, which Outmusic nominated Best Female Debut CD. (ABS)
Abramovitz, Mimi (1941 –) moved to New Haven, CT upon graduating from the University of Michigan in 1963 and became involved in the civil rights, anti-war and women's movements, and worked with the American Independent Movement. With other women, she formed New Haven Women's Liberation, where she focused on Welfare rights, organizing anti-Vietnam War rallies to Washington, D.C., and unionizing Yale University clerical workers. Abramovitz earned her M.S.W. (1967) and her D.S.W. (1981) from the School of Social Work, Columbia University. Since 1981 she has taught social welfare policy at Hunter School of Social Work, CUNY, in both the M.S.W. and D.S.W. programs. Continuing her commitment to low-income women, she co-founded the Welfare Rights Initiative at Hunter and focused her research on gender and the U.S. Welfare state. Abramovitz is the author of Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy From Colonial Times to the Present (South End Press, 1988); Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfarein the U.S. (Monthly Review Press, 1996); and Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy (with Joel Blau) (Oxford University Press, 2004). Her book Under Attack, Fighting Back was named Outstanding Book on the subject of human rights in North America by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights (1977). In 2004, the Commission on the Role and Status of Women presented the Feminist Scholarship Award in her honor. (ABS)
Abrams, Diane Schulder (1937 –) As a student at Columbia Law School (1961 –1964), Abrams knew her chosen career path, public interest law, was not popular and that there were few women in criminal law. Nonetheless, after clerking for one year in the chambers of the Hon. Dudley B. Bonsal, Abrams went to work for the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Branch, in New York. Because of her work there, she met a professor, Peggy Dobbins, who had been arrested for throwing a stink bomb at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. Dobbins invited Abrams to weekly CR meetings where Abrams met a number of law students who wanted to create a course on women and the law. From this came Abram's outline for the first course on women and the law taught in the United States. Abrams herself taught this course in 1969 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and New York University Law School. Her course is taught in many law schools in the U.S. In the mid to late 1960s, Abrams worked for civil liberties/ constitutional law attorney Leonard Boudin, whom she assisted in the defense of Dr. Benjamin Spock, who was then on trial for conspiracy. From the late 1960s to early 1970s, Abrams worked as a matrimonial lawyer representing women because, she says, "Wives in divorce cases often did not have a lawyer whom they could rely on and trust." In 1974, she married Robert Abrams, who served as New York State attorney general from 1978 –1993. In all of his state-wide races, Diane Abrams was chair of the women's issues group. Abrams, who has two children, has also worked as a real estate broker with Brown Harris Stevens in NYC. (ABS)
Abrams, Rosalie M. Gresser (1921 –) In 1971, Abrams founded the Orange County Feminist Repertory Theater. The theater provided a forum for issues that weren't touched by larger theaters in Orange County, CA. In 1969, Abrams founded the first chapter of NOW in Orange County, serving as VP in 1970 and president in 1971. Also in 1971, Abrams wrote the first full-length version of the play "Myth America: How Far Have You Really Come?," both as an educational vehicle and a means of raising funds to build the NOW chapter. In 1972, the play was performed for the first CA NOW state conference in Sacramento. In 1973, Abrams and her husband guaranteed the rental payments of the first pro-choice feminist women's health clinic in Orange County by signing the lease. "We have, along with other NOW and church members, defended the Orange County and Los Angeles clinics from being burned and destroyed, by staying overnight, sleeping in our cars, and securing the doors with our bodies." In 1976, Abrams wrote an original show for the Bicentennial about Martha Mitchell and performed it for the fifth annual CA NOW conference in Fresno. In 1977, she presented a scroll to two members of the Women's Federation at Peking University; the scroll sends greetings from Orange County NOW to the women of China. Abrams, who taught mini-courses on feminist issues at various schools and colleges, was named "feminist consultant" by the chairman of the psychology department at Fullerton College (1975). Abrams remains a political activist and plans to resume her theater group. She holds a B.A. (1971) and M.A. (1975) from California State University, Fullerton, and has two children. (ABS)
Abzug, Bella Savitzky (1920 –1998-) Sometimes called "Battling Bella," Abzug was passionate and outspoken on women's equality, peace, the environment and civil rights in the U.S. and globally. She served three terms in the U.S. Congress (1971–1977), where she was considered a brilliant strategist. She was the first Jewish woman to serve in the House of Representatives, defeating Democratic incumbent Leonard Farbstein in a bitterly fought primary battle using the slogan "This woman's place is in the House—The House of Representatives." From 1990 on she worked to address environmental issues, and social and economic injustice to women in undeveloped nations around the world. Born in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Abzug was recognized early as a leader and elected president of her high-school class (Walton HS in the Bronx) and president of the Student Self-Government Association at Hunter College, where she received a B.A. in 1942. Rejected by Harvard Law School because of its males-only policy, Abzug attended Columbia University Law School on scholarship and received her law degree in 1945. She specialized in labor law and civil liberties and defended people who were victims of the Joe McCarthy-inspired witchhunt. As chair of the subcommittee on government information and individual rights, Abzug held hearings on illegal and covert activities by federal agents. In six years on the public works committee, she brought $6 billion to New York, especially for public transportation. She was a founder of Women Strike for Peace and was its national legislative coordinator from 1961 –1970, and led thousands of women on expeditions to Congress and the White House on behalf of a nuclear test ban. She is best known for her contributions to women: in the 92nd Congress alone, Abzug and Martha Griffiths introduced more than 20 bills relating to women. Abzug was a co-founder of the NWPC and became co-chair in 1971; she was also a founder of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues. Abzug also introduced the first gay rights bill in Congress in May 1974.
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