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Newly available primary source research materials focus on women’s activism

December 1, 2019

VCU Libraries continues to build its research collections of primary source materials supporting the teaching, learning, research and health care needs of the university.

In the 2018-19 academic year,  Special Collections and Archives focused on processing existing resources to expand the materials available to researchers. With the assistance of a temporary processing archivist, Special Collections and Archives completed the arrangement and description of a number of significant collections. 

Many of the newly processed collections document the history of women and their activism to secure an equal place in society. They include:

Bonnie Atwood papers 

Atwood,a feminist, lobbyist, author and activist from Virginia, became involved in various activist causes such as the women’s movement, the Vietnam peace movement, and the Civil Rights movement. Her papers provide insight into the beliefs and methodologies of grassroots second-wave feminist activists during the 1960s and 1970s.

Patricia Fishback papers

Patricia Fishback is a feminist activist who lobbied Virginia delegates on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Ratification Council in the 1970s and early 1980s. Her papers include administrative files of the ERA Ratification Council, correspondence to state officials and ERA promotional materials. 

Joan Girone papers

Joan Girone was a Chesterfield County politician and the first woman to serve on the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. Along with fellow Republicans, she fought against the consolidation of the Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond City school systems ordered by Judge Robert R. Merhige in 1972, which aimed to integrate the public schools. The papers provide insight into the administrative duties of local government in the Richmond area and highlight the platforms of the Virginia Republican Party in the 1970s and 1980s,

Zelda Nordlinger papers

Nordlinger was a freelance writer and co-founder of the Richmond branch of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Her papers include correspondence, NOW newsletters and promotional materials that include a large collection of political buttons. More 

Elizabeth Smith collection of Virginia ERA Ratification Council records

Elizabeth Smith served as executive director of the Virginia Equal Rights Amendment Ratification Council. The collection consists primarily of  materials created by or concerning the Virginia Equal Rights Amendment Ratification Council, but also includes items from the National Organization for Women (NOW), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Homemakers for the ERA (HERA), the National Women’s Party (NWP) and many other pro-ERA organizations of the time. The collection also contains materials documenting the anti-ERA voice of the same era.

Betsy Brinson collection of AIDS epidemic exhibit materials

The contents of this collection are associated with an exhibit presented at the Richmond Public Library in 2017 titled “The Modern Plague: Voices and Images of the Early AIDS Epidemic.” It contains oral history interviews conducted by Betsy Brinson in 2016 and 2017 with people who volunteered and worked with affected communities in the Richmond area during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s. Researchers will find content relating to major HIV/AIDS organizations in Richmond including the Fan Free Clinic, Richmond AIDS Information Network, and the Central Virginia Aids Services and Education. More 

Equality Virginia records

Equality Virginia was founded in 1989 as Virginians for Justice, which served as a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Virginians. Researchers will find content containing materials for potential research in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, LGBT legal rights from 1987 to 2005, the Bottoms v. Bottoms case and LGBT hate crimes. The collection also provides insight into the personal beliefs and views held by the Virginia General Assembly candidates during the 1990s through candidate questionnaires. More

Virginia League for Nursing records

The Virginia League for Nursing is a state-based professional nursing organization dedicated to promoting quality nursing education programs in Virginia. Initially organized in 1917, the VLN records document the organization’s annual meetings, educational endeavors, and scholarship program for nursing students.

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