National Organization for Women (NOW) Newsletters

What's online?

NOW newsletters from Pittsburgh's regional chapters beginning in 1969 and extending through 2003.At neighborhood levels, the following areas of note are included: South Hills, North Hills, Squirrel Hill, McKeesport, East End, Lawrenceville, Oakland.

What's in the entire collection?

The National Organization for Women (NOW) Newsletters Collection consists of pamphlets, flyers, and newsletters from national, state, regional, and local chapters. The collection’s materials detail and provide the organization's mission statements, meeting minutes, electoral processes, legal proceedings, and mass actions regarding women’s rights and the Equal Rights Act (ERA), predominately from the Western Pennsylvania area. At regional levels, the following areas of note are included: Southwestern Pennsylvania, Joint Pittsburgh Area, Greater Pittsburgh Area. At neighborhood levels, the following areas of note are included: South Hills, North Hills, Squirrel Hill, McKeesport, East End, Lawrenceville, Oakland. More newsletters, programs, and publications from Texas, California, Ohio, Washington D.C., Illinois, and other locations are also included in the collection.

About the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Founded on June 30, 1966 by a group of women attending the Third National Conference of the Commission on the Status of Women in Washington, D.C., the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) main premise was to eliminate discrimination based on sex in all institutions, including schools, the justice system, and the workplace. Within three years, the organization began to change the workforce as we now know it; the organization moved to “de-sexigrate” the Help Wanted sections of New York City newspapers, including the New York Times, in 1967. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm, a member of NOW, became the first Black woman elected to the House of Representatives. And by 1969, Sylvia Roberts, an attorney for NOW, successfully argued the first sex discrimination case appealed under Title VII, which changed the weight limitation rule for women in the workforce.

The organization quickly grew in the 1970s and broadened its ideology to include other women's issues, such as violence against women, reproductive rights, childcare, and representation of women in positions of power. It has also adopted an intersectional approach to equality and justice by working to eradicate racism, sexism, homophobia, and to protect immigrant rights. NOW has numerous chapters and supporters in all 50 states and uses marches, peaceful protests, and lawsuits to enact their stances on social change and reforms for women.

Pittsburgh was a hub of NOW activity, with many chapters established in individual neighborhoods. The first Pittsburgh NOW, founded in 1967 by Wilma Scott Heide, was the third chapter of NOW founded in the United States. JoAnn Evansgardner, who grew up in Hazelwood, and her husband Gerald Gardner were active members of NOW starting in 1968. Gardner served as Director and Treasurer of the First Pittsburgh Chapter, while Evansgardner worked on the National Board of NOW as an Eastern Regional Co-Director. Jean Witter, a lawyer raised in the South Hills, also influenced the NOW movement in Pittsburgh by becoming one of the first presidents of the Pittsburgh Chapter and dedicating her time to the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Gerald Blum, who joined NOW because of his interest in the role of male feminists, was an active participant in the South Hills Chapter.

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