Archives and Special Collections
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Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids

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Collection Overview
Title:Women's School (Cambridge, Mass.) records
Dates:1971-1992
Location: 71/1-2, RS11/52
Call Number:M23
Volume:6.25 cubic ft. (8 boxes, 1 tube)
Scope and Content Abstract:The records of the Women's school document its development from the early planning stages through closure. Series 1. Administration documents concerning the school's formation, day-to-day operations and governance. Records include annual fiscal reports, information about funding sources, correspondence, articles about the School, press releases on classes and workshops and registration materials. In addition, minutes from the collective, general and teacher's meetings provide information on the operation of the school and its educational programs. Series 2. Term Files contain extensive material on each academic term, including bibliographies, class descriptions, course outlines, instructor's notes, class lists, reading lists, registration for child card and classes, schedules of classes, syllabi, and worksheets. Series 3. Related materials offers a glimpse into the intellectual and political thinking of feminists during the 1970s and early 1980s. Included are articles, brochures, newspapers and speeches relating to the intellectual and political thinking of feminists during the 1970s and early 1980s. Included are articles, brochures, newsletters and speeches relating to African-American women, alternative education programs, the Boston Women's Union, feminist humor, population control in Latin America, socialist feminism, tenant rights, women in China and the Women's Educational Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Also included are early published and unpublished works by Angela Davis, Barbara Ehrenreich and Linda Gordon.
Historical Abstract:The Women's School was established in 1971 by 20 women who were involved with the Women's Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The school was founded as an alternative source of feminist education, and its ideologies were based on socialist feminism. The school was operated by a collective and classes were taught by volunteers. All collective members, students and teachers were women. Registration fees were kept low so that all women would be able to participate. In 1973, the collective developed a formal administrative structure. Committees were created to select courses, develop special projects and handle office work and finances. Classes were offered on anti-racism, auto mechanics, growing up female, international women's struggles, lesbianism, Marxism, older women and many other topics. The Women's School closed in 1992. It was the longest running women's school of its type in the United States.
Arrangement:Organized into 3 series: 1. Administration; 2. Term Files; and 3. Related Material.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Davis, Angela Yvonne, 1944-
  • Ehrenreich, Barbara.
  • Gordon, Linda.

  • Women's Educational Center.
  • Women's School (Cambridge, Mass.).

  • Feminism and education -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge.
  • Women -- Education -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge.
  • Women's studies -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge.

Restrictions:The collection is unrestricted.
Related Materials: A microfilmed version of the Women's School (Cambridge, Mass.) records is located in the Archives Faculty Publications Collection filed under Grassroots Feminist Organizations.
Processor: Finding aid prepared by Deborah Richards, July 1998; updated by Anna J. Cook, July 2010.

Historical Note

The Women's School (WS) was established in the Fall of 1971 by 20 women who were involved with the recently formed Women's Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The school was founded as an alternative source of feminist education, and its ideologies were based on socialist-feminism.  The school was operated by a collective, and classes were taught by volunteers. All collective members, students, and teachers were women. Classes were often team taught.  Registration fees were kept low so that all women would be able to participate.

In 1973, the collective developed a formal administrative structure.  Committees were created to select courses, develop special projects, and handle office work and finances.  The number of courses offered continued to grow, and classes on anti-racism, auto mechanics, growing up female, international women's struggles, lesbianism, Marxism, older women, Spanish, and many other topics were offered.

The Women's School closed in 1992.  It was the longest running women's school in the United States.

Bibliography

History, 1977, 1978 (M23, Box 1, Folders 39-40)
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Series:

1. Administration, 1971-1992
Arrangement:

Alphabetical
Summary:

Administrative records document the school's formation, day to day operations, and governance.  There are financial records including annual fiscal reports and information on funding sources (Box 1, Folders 19-36).  The collection contains correspondence with Charlotte Bunch about an article on the history of the Women's School for a publication that she edited (Box 1, Folder 39).  Minutes from committee, general and teachers' meetings are included providing detailed information on the operation of the school and its educational programs (Box 1, Folders 45-64).  Articles about the school, press releases on classes and workshops, and fliers for registration are examples of the school's publicity efforts (Box 1, 7, Folders 70-81).  In addition a large banner proclaiming "The Women's School Supports Lesbian and Gay Rights" (tube) and "Get Wise to the Women's School" buttons are included (Box 6, Folder 312).
BoxTitleDate
6Address Stampsn.d.
1Certificates of Exemption1984-1989
1Collective Procedures: Packetca. 1984
1Commitment & Burnout Discussion: Notes1980
1Committee Lists (2 folders)197?-1976
Contacts
1Mailing Lists (2 folders)1984-1992
1Membership List (5 folders)197?-1986
1Women's Center Staff: List1985
1Correspondence (2 folders)1974-1992
1Facilitators' Workshop198?
Finance
1Boston-Cambridge Ministry in Higher Education: Grant Proposal1986
1Closing of Fiscal Year: Correspondence1980-1981
1Financial Agreements1978-1980
1Financial Records (3 folders)1979-1984
1Fiscal Year Reports (6 folders)1977-1985
1Fund Raising (3 folders)1973-1974, 1983
1Funding Sources (3 folders)1973, 1984, 1986
1Grant Information: Newsletter1987
1Haymarket Fund: Funding Proposals1980, 1984
1Project Books Against Cash on Hand: Reports1979-1982
1Formsn.d.
History
1Article and Correspondence1977-1978
1Background Information197?
1Drafts of Articlen.d.
1Outlines of Article197?
1Leno, Mary: Administrative Notes1989-1990
1Letterheadn.d.
1Minutes (10 folders)1972-1992
7Notes "Working Women": Calendar1981
1Office Management: Notes1976
1Office Space: Correspondence and Lease1973, 1977
1Office Staffing: Contacts Information1977
1Outreach Forms1976
1Places to Meet: List198?
Publicity
1Advertising1989
TubeBannern.d.
1Brochuresn.d.
6Buttonsn.d.
1"Cambridge Women's School Struggles to Survive"1985
1Fliers1973-1989
1Press Releases (2 folders)1972-1973, 1985
1Public Service Announcements1982-1985
1Publicity/Calendar Listings1987
1, 7Registration: Fliers (2 folders)1974-1982
1"Women's Groups Get Support"1989
1"Women's School Newsletter"1973
1Workshops: Article1983
1Questionnaire1984-1985
1Rape Updates: Registration Statistics1980
1Slides of a Party1983
2Songsn.d.
2Statements of Purpose1972-1973
2Structure Proposals for Schooln.d., 1973
2Support Group for Latinas1983
2Women Interested in Publicity Help1979
2Women Interested in Teaching1978
2Women's School: Essay1978
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Series:

2. Term Files, 1972-1992
Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically by academic term and then alphabetically.
Summary:

Term files includes extensive material on each school term.  Most aspects of preparing for an academic term, offering courses, and evaluating them are included in these files.  There are bibliographies, class descriptions, course outlines, instructors' notes, lists of students, reading lists, registration for child care and classes, schedules of classes, syllabi, and worksheets (Box 2-8, Folders 178-297, 339).  The term files also include the report, "Who are the Women of Cambridge?"  This project, compiled by a group of students in 1973, described the female population of Cambridge (Box 3, Folders 179-82).
BoxTitleDate
3, 8Class Schedules (2 folders)1972-1992
Course Materials
2Black History: Readingsn.d.
2Introduction to Socialist/Feminism: Course Outline198?
2Labor History: Readingsn.d.
2Women and Literature: Readings (4 folders)n.d.
2Women in America: Readingsn.d.
1972
2Course and Teacher Lists
2Course Evaluations
Courses [Spring]
2Birth Control, Abortion and Population Control
2Herstory
2Lesbianism
2Courses [Fall]: Introduction to Women's Liberation
2Registration Forms
1973
2Course and Teacher List
2Course Evaluations
Courses [Winter/Spring]
2"I am Woman": Class Newsletter
2Introduction to Dialectical Materialism
2Introduction to Women's Liberation
2Marxism (2 folders)
2Women in Capitalist Society
2Women in Literature
2Women in Painting
Courses [Summer]
2Black History
2Cuba
7Cuba "Old Mole": Newspaper
2Spanish
Courses [Fall]
2Auto Mechanics
2Latin America
2Voices of Women (Poetry)
2Welfare Awareness
2Women in the Workplace
2Registration Forms
"Who Are the Women of Cambridge?": Project
3Preliminary Report
3Profile
3Questionnaires
3Statistics
1974
2Class Descriptions (2 folders)
2Course and Teacher List (3 folders)
Courses [Spring]
2Children's Literature
2History of Irish Struggle
2Women in America
Courses [Summer]
2 Anarcho-Feminism
2Middle East
2Poetry Workshop
2Women in America
2Courses [Fall]: Irish Women's Struggle
2Notes for Teachers
2Registration Forms (2 folders)
21975: Courses [Spring]: Puerto Rico
1976
2Child Care Forms and Notes (2 folders)
2Class Descriptions
2Course and Teacher Lists (3 folders)
Courses [Spring]
2History of the New Left and the Women's Movement
2Images of Women in Literature
2Introduction to Marxism
2Lesbianism
2Office Work and Office Workers
2The Politics of Women and Health Care
2Women and Capitalism
2Women's History (2 folders)
Courses [Summer]
2Dance
2Growing up Female
2Our Bodies, Ourselves
Courses [Fall]
2Marxism
2Women's History
2Registration Forms (6 folders)
1977
2Child Care Forms (2 folders)
2Class Lists
Courses [Spring]
2Black Women in America
2Politics of Women and Health Care
2Women in China
Courses [Fall]
2Class and Race Workshop
2Women and Capitalism
2Registration Forms (2 folders)
21978: Registration Forms (2 folders)
1979
2Class Lists
2Courses [Spring]: Lesbian Literature
2Courses and Teacher List
2Registration Forms (3 folders)
2Schedule of Classes
1980
2Child Care Forms and Notes
2Class List
2Course and Teacher List
Courses [Spring]
6Graffiti
Older Women's Lives
4General (3 folders)
7"The Owl Observer": Newspaper1985
4"Sparerib": Magazine
4Politics of Science
4Working with Clay
Courses [Fall]
4Politics of Mental Health
4Women's History
4Registration Forms (2 folders)
1981
4Child Care Forms
4Class List
4Course Evaluations
Courses [Winter/Spring]
4Education Workshop
4How to Look at Films from a Feminist Perspective
4Struggling Against Racism
4Women's Voices in American Labor History
4Registration Forms
1982
4Courses [Spring]: Finding Our Own Voices
4Courses [Fall]: Women and Revolution
4Registration Forms
1983
4Child Care Forms (2 folders)
4Class List (2 folders)
4Course and Teacher List
4Course Evaluations (3 folders)
Courses [Spring]
4Confronting Anti-Semitism
4Introduction to Marxism (2 folders)
4Poetry is not a Luxury
4Women's Literature
Courses [Fall]
4 Dialogue Between Lesbian and Heterosexual Women thru Literature
4Journal Writing (3 folders)
4Women and Power
4Writing for Media
4Prospective Teachers
4Registration Forms (2 folders)
1984
5Child Care Forms (2 folders)
5Class Lists (2 folders)
5Course and Teacher Lists
5Course Descriptions
5Course Evaluations (2 folders)
Courses [Spring]
5American Sign Language
5Visual Images of Women
5Wheelchair Repair
5Women and Smoking (2 folders)
Courses [Fall]
Central American Primer
5General (2 folders)
7"Honduras": Newspaper1984
5Women's Labor History (3 folders)
5Notes
5Registration Forms (2 folders)
1985
5Class List
5Course Evaluations (2 folders)
5Registration Forms (2 folders)
5Women Needing Assistance Forms
1986
5Course and Teacher List
5Course Descriptions
5Course Evaluations (2 folders)
5Registration Forms (2 folders)
1987
5Course Descriptions
5Course Evaluations (2 folders)
5Course Lists
5Registration Forms (2 folders)
5Writers' Support Group: Ground Rules
1988
5Course Evaluations (2 folders)
5Registration Forms (2 folders)
1989
5Courses [Spring]: Reading for a Change
5Course Evaluations
5Course List
5Registration Forms (2 folders)
1990
5Course Evaluations
5Registration Forms
51991: Registration Forms (2 folders)
1992
5Course Evaluations
5Registration Forms
5Schedule of Classes
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Series:

3. Related Material, 1972-1992
Arrangement:

Alphabetical
Summary:

Related Materials offers a glimpse into the intellectual and political thinking of feminists during the 1970s and early 1980s.  Included are articles, brochures, newsletters and speeches relating to issues on African-American women, alternative education programs, the Boston Women's Union, feminist humor, population control in Latin America, socialist-feminism, tenant rights, women in China, and the Women's Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The series also includes early published and unpublished works by Angela Davis, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Linda Gordon (Box 5-7, Folders 298-332, 338).
BoxTitleDate
5Alternative Education Programsn.d., 1979-1980
5Article197?
5Belden, Jack, "Gold Flower's Story": Booklet197?
5Boston Women's Union: Introduction and Structuren.d.
5"Brown Sister": Newsletter1977
5 "Citizen Participation in Urban Education: The City-Wide Coalition of Boston"1974
5Davis, Angela, "The Black Women's Role in the Community of Slaves"1971
5Ehrenreich, Barbara, "Socialist/Feminism and Revolution": Speech1975
5Fast, Anita, "Our Friends are Our Family": Working Paper1981
5Feminist Humor: Readingsn.d.
5Gordon, Linda, "The Fourth Mountain: Women in China": Booklet1973
7"Healthy": Brochure197?
5Horn, Joshua, "Hospitals in China": Booklet1969
6"How the Russian Revolution Failed Women": Booklet197?
6 Huberman, Leo and Paul Sweezy, "The Cultural Revolution in China": Booklet197?
6"If I've Upset You, You've Got the Message"n.d.
6Irvina, Janice, Article and Notes1985
6Lavender Resistance: Essay197?
6Mao, Kathi, "Women in Mystery: Reading List"n.d.
6"The Midwife Advocate": Newsletter1992
6Petran, Tabita, "Zionism: A Political Critique": Booklet197?
6"The Political Economy of Population Control in Latin America": Booklet1972
6 "The Social Relations of the Classroom: A Moral and Political Perspective"n.d.
6Statistics from the Women's Bureau, Department of Labor: Notes197?
6Tenant Rights: Handbooks1970s
6"Tenants' Newsletter"1974
6"Viva La Huelga!": Booklet1974
6"The Way We Teach and Learn"n.d.
6Willis, Ellen, "Economic Reality and the Limits of Feminism"n.d.
6"Women's Orgasm": Essay197?
6"The Women's Center": Informationn.d.
6Women's Center "On Our Way": Newsletter1976-1978
6Women's Schools [Others]: Newsletters1976-1977
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