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Helen L. Koss papers

 Collection 0319-MDHC
Helen L. Koss (1922-2008) represented Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1971 until her retirement in 1987. She was the first woman appointed to chair a standing committee: the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee (1979-1987). She sponsored legislation which recognized divorced homemakers as entitled to equal compensation as their former husbands. Additionally, Koss was a proponent of reform in the insurance and housing industries, and sought more equal pay between male and female faculty members. Among the legislation that Koss sponsored during her time in office is the Displaced Homemaker's Bill, which established the first multipurpose center to counsel and train homemakers who experience a loss of income due to divorce, disability, or the death of a spouse. Delegate Koss was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame in 1997 for her work promoting gender equality. Major subject areas include women's rights, election laws, and the Displaced Homemakers Bill. The collection is primarily comprised of correspondence, bills and research material, including official committee reports.

Dates

  • 1970-2002 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1973-1979

Use and Access to Collection

Several letters from constituents are restricted and require pre-screening

Extent

6.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Helen L. Koss Papers contain material from 1972 to 2002; the bulk of the materials originating between 1975 and 1979. The collection is primarily comprised of correspondence, bills and research material, including official committee reports. The vast majority of the materials relate to her position in the House of Delegates, though a small number of documents relating to Delegate Koss's speaking engagements are also included.

Biography

Helen L. Koss was born in Ellenville, New York, on June 3, 1922. She moved to Montgomery County in 1951. From 1963 to 1967, she served as president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland. During this time, the League devoted most of its efforts toward the civil rights movement in the form of advocating public accommodations for all. She was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1971, and served until her retirement in 1987. She was appointed to chair the Constitution and Administrative Law Committee in 1979, marking the first time a woman held the chair of a permanent committee in Maryland.

During her tenure in the Maryland House of Delegates, Helen L. Koss focused most of her efforts on campaign reform and eliminating gender discrimination in the credit, housing and insurance industries. She also proposed numerous bills which aimed at improving the plight of divorced women. Her greatest achievement was the Displaced Homemakers Bill, a bill which established a center for training women in skills which would enable them to work outside of the home.

Arrangement

This collection is organized as five series:
  1. Series 1: Biographical and Non-Political
  2. Series 2: Legislation
  3. Series 3: Election Laws Task Force
  4. Series 4: Women's Issues
  5. Series 5: Center for Displaced Homemakers

Related Material

The Goucher College Archives in Towson, Maryland contains an oral history interview with Helen L. Koss from 1981 in its Maryland Women Lawmakers Oral History Project Collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Trevor Wylie, July 2011.
Title
Guide to the Helen L. Koss papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Trevor Wylie.
Date
2011-07
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212