Alert: Your Libraries are here for you. Learn more about library services during the pandemic.
Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

Esther Gelman papers

 Collection 0053-MDHC
Esther P. Gelman was a member of the Montgomery County Council from 1974 to 1987, and its first female president. Gelman's papers reflect her political career and the issues with which she was particularly concerned, such as women's issues, human services, and the establishment of a Comprehensive Community Crisis Center in Montgomery County.


  • 1973-1986
  • Majority of material found within 1983-1986

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


1.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The items in this collection date from 1973 to 1986. The bulk of the material falls between the years 1983 through 1986. Correspondence, testimony transcripts, resolutions, bills, memoranda, and official reports comprise much of the collection. In addition, information sources such as pamphlets, leaflets, and reports on the Community Crisis Center are included. Issues with which Gelman dealt are reflected in the newspaper clippings, booklets, articles, and news releases in the collection. A State Senate Recognition Award given to Gelman is also included here.


Esther P. Gelman served a member of the Montgomery County Council, representing District No. 2, from 1974 to 1987. Throughout her long political career Gelman was an active advocate for the rights of victims of sexual assault and spousal abuse and helped improve human services available to residents of Montgomery County. Gelman was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1931. After receiving a B. A. in English History and Philosophy from the University of Colorado in 1951, she taught school for one year before returning to Maryland to begin her political activities. Following her election to the Montgomery County Council in 1974, Mrs. Gelman began campaigning for legislation to restrict smoking in public, which resulted in Bill 26-76 "Smoking in Public Places" and in her 1985 co-sponsoring of Bill 27-85 "Smoking in County Government Workplaces and Rail Transit Stations."

In 1982 Mrs. Gelman voiced her concern with the issue of comparable worth by introducing Bill 55-82, "Comparable Worth-Equal Pay for Work of Equal Worth." She continued her advocacy of women's issues in 1984 by sponsoring legislation designed to improve day care facilities and payment methods for county employees.

Gelman's longstanding commitment to expanding Montgomery County human services began as early as 1976. From 1976 until her retirement in 1987, Gelman sponsoring numerous bills and resolutions aimed at establishing and improving and Comprehensive Community Crisis Center. This center was designed to provide care, shelter, and counseling to victims of sexual assault, spousal abuse, and drug addiction. The Center was comprised of three primary divisions: the Abused Persons Program, the Crisis Intervention Service, and the Family Shelter. These services, provided at low or no cost, assisted an estimated 10,000 persons a year.

Other legislation supported by Gelman included bills insuring religious leave for County employees, a resolution to boycott grapes to protest pesticide use, and a reform of the County Disability Retirement program.

Along with her council activities, Gelman was active in the Maryland Association of Counties (1979-1985), the Metropolitan-Washington Council of Governments (1979-1985), and the National Association of Counties (1983-1985).

In 1983 Gelman was given a special award from the Maryland State Senate in recognition of "her leadership in helping victims of spouse abuse, sexual assault and other crises."

While remaining active in local religious and political groups, Gelman retired from the Montgomery County Council in 1987.


The collection is divided into two series:
Series 1
Legislative Files
Series 2
Subject Files

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Esther P. Gelman donated her papers to the University of Maryland College Park Libraries in 1986.

Related Material

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

Processing Information

Duplicate photocopies of news clippings, along with the original clippings, were also discarded. Folders of similar materials were combined. The collections was placed in acid-free folders and re-boxed.
Guide to the Esther Gelman papers
Processed by Mary Stevanus.
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