Colorado National Organization for Women papers
Scope and Contents
The Colorado National Organization for Women Papers contains correspondence, newsletters, memos, financial records, posters, minutes, memorabilia and information on local chapters. The National Organization for Women was established in 1966 with Betty Friedan as the first president of the organization. The Colorado National Organization for Women was founded in 1970. The collection spans from 1970-2005.
- Creation: 1970 - 2005
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for access.
Conditions Governing Use
Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.
Biographical / Historical
The National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in 1966 at the Third Annual Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in response to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's failure to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits the discrimination on the basis of sex. National NOW's purpose was "to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men." Betty Friedan was the first president of NOW and held her position until 1969. Colorado NOW was organized in 1970 and the first meeting was held on the campus of the Colorado Women's College. The first president of Colorado NOW was Dr. Charlotte Wolf, who was a professor at the Colorado Women's College. The first chapter of Colorado NOW was the Metro Denver Chapter with a membership of 18 women.
In August 1970, as part of Women's Equality Day, Colorado NOW president Dr. Wolf called for a boycott on purchasing and Colorado NOW presented a list of several measures to Governor John Love and Lt. Governor Mark Hogan to gain support for a women's rights conference, equal employment, day care, and abortion rights. In the early years of Colorado NOW, there were several successes, including Colorado state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972. Colorado was the thirteenth state to ratify the ERA.
Although there were over 500 chapters of NOW across the United States in 1975, the Denver NOW began to suffer financially and membership began to decline in 1976. There was general dissent within the organization due to financial strain and the concentration of white, middle class, feminist agenda, which alienated and excluded feminists and women of color, lesbian feminists and socialist feminists. However, Colorado NOW was able to recover and several new NOW chapters were organized later that year, including Central, East & South Denver NOW.
In July of 1977, Colorado NOW began to publish NOW Newsletter: We Cover the State. With the addition of the chapters in 1976, there were 10 Colorado NOW chapters functioning in 1977-- Aspen, Boulder, Clara Brown (Arvada), Central Denver, El Paso Co., East Denver, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, South Denver and Weld County. The state board was organized into no less than ten different Statewide Task Forces, which focused on issues such as labor, rural women and prostitution.
Throughout the late 1970s, Colorado NOW began to influence the political climate of the state. The organization was closely involved with passing the Displaced Homemakers Act in 1978, which established centers where divorced women could receive guidance and assistance when entering the job market. Although the Colorado NOW agenda included a wide range of issues, the most important activity for NOW in the late 1970s and early 1980s was campaigning for the ERA. Colorado NOW was active in this process by raising funds, awareness, volunteers and support for the passage of the amendment in other states.
Although the ERA failed in 1982, women working in NOW gained valuable political knowledge which they used to create awareness around women's rights, build political alliances, promote feminist minded political candidates and to campaign for laws improving the status of women. This agenda has been long lasting and the organization continues to build political strength and ties to policy makers.
Colorado NOW hosted the 20th Anniversary NOW Conference on June 13-15, 1986 in Denver. The National Right to Life Committee also held its convention in Denver this weekend, with their protests to NOW resulting in a confrontation between the two organizations at the downtown March for Women's Lives. Twenty-five pro-life supporters were arrested, but no pro-choice advocates were detained by police. Again, in 1990, an important NOW event was held in Colorado. The National NOW president, Molly Yard, brought her Freedom Caravan for Women's Lives to Colorado in 1990.
Colorado NOW still has a place today and works on issues surrounding Colorado and the nation to bring change in the status of women in society. Currently, there are eight NOW chapters in Colorado–Abigail Adams (Aurora), Arapahoe/Denver (South Metro Denver), Boulder, Central Denver, Clara Brown/Jefferson County, Durango, Estes Park, and Pikes Peak Region. "Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society."
10.5 linear feet (21 boxes 1 oversize)
Language of Materials
The Colorado National Organization for Women contains correspondence, newsletters, memos, financial records, posters, minutes, memorabilia and information on local chapters. The National Organization for Women was established in 1966 with Betty Friedan as the first president of the organization. The Colorado National Organization for Women was founded in 1970. The collection spans from 1970-2005.
This collection is arranged into the following series: I. COLORADO NOW LOCAL CHAPTERS II. SUBJECT FILES III. CHRONOLOGICAL FILES IV. ELECTIONS–COLORADO STATE, SENATE, REPRESENTATIVES, ETC V. EARLY 1980S- FINANCIAL SPREADSHEETS VI. MEMORABILIA, DISPLAY ITEMS, OVERSIZE
- Preliminary Inventory & Initial Processing by Sarah A. Johnson, September 2005 Processed by Leanne Glenn, October 2009
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
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