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National Organization for Women, Maryland Chapter records

 Collection 0226-MDHC

The National Organization for Women, Maryland Chapter, formed in the early 1970s as an organization devoted to action for women in areas such as equal rights and responsibilities in all aspects of citizenship, public service, employment, education, and family life, and it includes freedom from discrimination because of race, ethnic origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or parenthood. The files consist of administrative and research files, correspondence, minutes, photographs, and press releases.


  • 1966-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1975-2004

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


36.25 Linear Feet

250 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The records of the National Organization for Women, Maryland Chapter, date between 1966 and 2004 with the bulk of the materials falling between 1975 and 2004. The collection consists of clippings, committee reports, conference proceedings, correspondence, issue files, membership and leadership lists, minutes, newsletters, and recordings of state council meetings Areas of emphasis include the relationship between state and local chapters of NOW, state conferences, newsletters, member recruitment, legislative action, and issues including abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Administrative History

The National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in 1966 to advocate for women's economic, political, and social equality through education, fundraising, lawsuits, legislative lobbying, protests, and rallies. Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray, two of the founding members, defined the organization's purpose: "to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men." NOW remains committed to fighting discrimination, racism, sexism, and homophobia; seeking to end violence against women; and advocating for women's access to reproductive health care, birth control, and abortion. For example, the organization was active in demonstrating in support of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and campaigning in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

There are multiple levels of leadership in the organization, from the local chapter to state chapters to regional councils. On the national level, NOW consists of four elected officials (President, Vice President -- Action, Vice President -- Executive, and Vice President -- Membership), a National Board of Directors composed of elected representatives from nine regions of the United States, and national issues committees. It is NOW's members, however, who determine the organization's path and priorities at yearly conferences. The national leaders implement policies and actions determined by the conference, coordinate action across the country (for example, marches on Washington), and provide membership services and support to state and local chapters.

State NOW chapters similarly consist of a small group of officials elected at state conferences by the members of local chapters. State leaders implement policies determined at the state conferences, help members implement national NOW decisions on the local level, coordinate statewide actions (such as lobbying for or against a particular bill in a state legislature), and provide membership services to the local chapters. The Maryland Chapter of NOW was established in 1972 under the leadership of Casey Anne Hughes. The state organization coordinated activities in support of national actions such as campaigning for the ERA as well as supporting involvement in state and local politics. Beginning in the late 1970s, the state council raised funds to pay for a NOW lobbyist in Annapolis. The lobbyist was charged with keeping NOW's concerns for women's economic and political rights and, particularly, access to reproductive health care and birth control before the legislature and with keeping NOW members informed about current bills that affected women's issues.

State leaders struggled constantly with financial worries and disagreements over the division of power between national, state, and local chapters. In the later 1980s and 1990s, recruiting new members and finding candidates for NOW offices became increasingly difficult for the Maryland chapter, but members persevered, and, in 2004, the state boasted fourteen chapters.

For more information about the history of the National Organization for Women at the national and local levels, please see,, and


The collection is divided into seven series:

Series 1
Administrative Files
Series 2
Series 3
Issue Files
Series 4
Series 5
Series 6
Series 7
Audio Files

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains audiovisual materials. Items that cannot be used in the Special Collections reading room or are too fragile for researchers require that a digital copy be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit.

This collection contains born-digital materials. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit as items may require specialized software for access.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The National Organization for Women, Maryland Chapter, donated their records to the University of Maryland Libraries in September 2002.

Related Material

Collections within the Archives and Manuscripts Department with particularly close connections to the archives of NOW, Maryland Chapter, include the Papers of Mary K. Benjamin, the Papers of Mary Boergers, the Archives of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, the Archives of the League of Women Voters of Prince George's County, the Papers of Constance A. Morella, the Papers of Jo-Ann Orlinsky, the Dorothy Sucher Collection, and the Archives of the Women's Action Coalition of Prince George's County.

Other related materials in the collections of the University of Maryland Libraries include the current year of the National NOW Times, available in the current periodicals section of McKeldin Library, and volumes 1-6 (1974-1979) of NOW in Annapolis, a NOW-published digest of Maryland legislation relating to women, available in the Maryland Room. (Maryland Room Folio KFM1291.W6 N2).

The national archives of the National Organization for Women is located at The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe College.

Processing Information

The collection was received in some disarray with many loose papers. Original order and folder divisions were preserved when apparent. Rusty fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips. Loose documents were organized, and all materials placed in acid-free folders. The folders were then arranged in acid-free boxes.The collection also contains audio files on cassette tapes which were identified and then labeled. This collection includes digital files, stored on 5-inch and 3-inch floppy disks. The textual information on the digital files which could be retrieved was printed out and appropriately integrated into existing series.

Guide to the National Organization for Women, Maryland Chapter records
Processed by Sarah Heim. Guide updated and revised by Kerry Schork, May 2011.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742