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Gloria Steinem Special Collections Resources

Materials related to Gloria Steinem in Smith College Special Collections

Gloria Steinem in Smith College Special Collections

Materials related to Steinem are found throughout Smith College Special Collections, which comprises the Mortimer Rare Book Collection, the Smith College Archives and the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History.

Read the “Scope and Contents” and the "Biographical/Historical" notes in the finding aids for more information on each individual collection.

Sophia Smith Collection

Gloria Steinem papers

The Gloria Steinem Papers offer an extraordinarily complete picture of an important feminist leader's public life, and to some extent her private life as well, but there is much more here than the raw material for Steinem's biography. The correspondence, writings, speeches, subject files, memorabilia, photographs, and other papers collected here document the Women's Movement from the standpoint of not only the movers and shakers, but also the individual women at the grass roots level whose letters to Steinem indicate the ways in which they responded to her as a symbol of the changes they were experiencing in their own lives. The papers also reflect the diversity of the modern women's movement. Steinem's ability to form productive alliances with women of different races and classes reflect her commitment to their concerns. Within the papers is evidence of her friendships and political work with pioneering African-American feminists such as Florynce Kennedy and Dorothy Pitman Hughes; lesbian authors and activists Andrea Dworkin, Rita Mae Brown, and Kate Millett; and labor organizers such as the United Farmworkers' Dolores Huerta and Karen Nussbaum of SEIU, District 925. Her importance as a founder, editor, and key fund-raiser for Ms. magazine make this collection central to the study of late 20th century journalism. Steinem's papers will be essential to any serious scholarly work on the women's liberation movement and twentieth century feminism.

Voices of Feminism Oral History Project oral histories

The Voices of Feminism Oral History Project documents the persistence and diversity of organizing for women in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Narrators include labor, peace, and anti-racism activists; artists and writers; lesbian rights advocates; grassroots anti-violence and anti-poverty organizers; and women of color reproductive justice leaders. Interviews average 5-6 hours and cover childhood, personal life, and political work.

Gloria Steinem interviewed by Evelyn C. White, September 28 and 30, 2007
Other interviews from other women affiliated with Ms. Magazine are included in the oral histories.

Related Organizations

Ms. Magazine records

These records document the administration, editorial choices, research, publication, and response to Ms. Magazine, as well as events and special projects created by the staff of the magazine. Particularly well documented are the editorial choices made by the magazine's staff and the changes in the magazine as it was transferred to Fairfax Publishing in the late 1980s.

The bulk of the collection is office files, editorial (including numerous manuscripts), publicity, promotion, circulation, and advertising. The editorial files were sampled. Also included are by Ms. staff, so it is not a complete documentation of the editorial work of the magazine. The collection also includes files on special projects (e.g. Stories for Children); files for Women's Action Alliance and Ms. Foundation for Women; individual editors' correspondence and other professional papers, including those of Gloria Steinem, Pat Carbine, and Letty Pogrebin. There are also research files, printed materials, audiovisual materials, photographs, and artwork.

Copies of Ms. Magazine are in the Periodicals collection (SSC-MS-00537) here: Ms., bulk: 1972-2011, 2016, 2017

Women's Action Alliance records

The Women's Action Alliance (WAA) was founded in 1971 to coordinate resources for organizations and individuals involved in the women's movement on the grass-roots level. Founders included Gloria Steinem (see also the Gloria Steinem Papers), Brenda Feigen, and Catherine Samuels. The organization's original mission was "to stimulate and assist women at the local level to organize around specific action projects aimed at eliminating concrete manifestations of economic and social discrimination." Conceived of as an advisory service that could provide back-up support, "the choice and objectives and basic strategy" of such initiatives would be "made by the group in every case."

The breadth and scope of the WAA projects are indicative of the diversity of the women's movement itself. A significant proportion of this material documents the activities of a large number of women's centers, projects, and services across the U.S. and abroad, from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s. By 1974 the WAA had begun to collect and preserve files tracking such activities, while the production of the "Practical Guide to the Women's Movement" and subsequent directories, organized both by geographic location and by program area, also involved the distribution and return of questionnaires in which women's centers and service organizations outlined their services, objectives, and goals. 

Equal Rights Amendment Campaign Archives Project records

The ERACAP Records are primarily related to the fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment between 1972 and 1982. Types of materials include correspondence, speeches, legal documents, photographs, press releases, reports, journal and newspaper articles, transcripts of interviews, audiocassettes, videocassettes, legislative records, logbooks, notes, documentary footage, and memorabilia.

The bulk of the records comprise audiovisual materials documenting the ERA fights in Illinois and North Carolina from two documentaries, Fighting for the Obvious and Who Will Protect the Family?. There is also considerable material relating to the National Organization for Women's work to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

Notable individuals included in the documentary footage are: Alan Alda, Birch Bayh, Susan Cantinia, Midge Costanza, Dennis Cuddy, Donald Deuster, Frances Fitzgerald, Jake Garn, Jesse Helms, Wilma Scott Heide, Peggy Madigan, Lamarr Mooneyham, Kathy Railsback, Phyllis Schlafly, Eleanor Smeal, Gloria Steinem, and Monica Faith Stewart. A portion of the footage for each documentary has been reformatted to DVD viewing copies.

Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication records

This collection consists of early records of the Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication, including financial information, correspondence, Board of Directors files, and documents pertaining to a legal case brought by Elizabeth Forsling Harris against Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine and Ms. Magazine Corp. for fraud.

College Archives

Classes of 1951-1960 records

The Classes of 1951-1960 records consist of individual class notes, examinations, papers and class letters, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, songbooks as well as reunion materials of the same nature, all related to or dating from the time periods during which these classes were students at Smith College.


Smith College Archives biographical research resources

A guide to finding biographical resources for students, faculty, and staff at Smith College in College Archives.

Exhibits and Projects

Creating Women's History: The Sophia Smith Collection video, 2001

Documentary on the Sophia Smith Collection, women's history archive at Smith College. Produced, written and directed by Joyce Follet and Terry Kay Rockefeller, 2001. This brief film highlights Smith College’s pioneering contributions to the movement that is revolutionizing the writing and teaching of history. It chronicles the 1942 founding of the nation’s oldest women’s manuscripts collection by historian Mary Ritter Beard and archivist Margaret Storrs Grierson and features cameo appearances by:

Gloria Steinem Rebecca Walker, Third Wave feminist Amy Richards, Third Wave feminist Jan Peterson, Grassroots activist Frances Fox Piven, Political scientist/Activist Daniel Horowitz, Historian Linda Gordon, Historian Linda Kerber, Historian

Agents for Social Change online exhibit

This exhibit marks the opening for research of eight collections of 20th century women activists: the papers of Constance Baker Motley, Dorothy Kenyon, Mary Kaufman, Frances Fox Piven, Jessie Lloyd O'Connor, and Gloria Steinem and the records of the Women's Action Alliance and the National Congress of Neighborhood Women. These new resources highlight women's part in the multiple struggles for social change that span the century including labor, socialism, civil liberties, peace, racial justice, urban reform, welfare rights, and women's rights. They illuminate connections between reform movements, as well as the interplay of race, ethnicity, class, and gender within them.