Archives and Special Collections
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Boston, MA 02115
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Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids

Printable Finding Aid. Back to Browsing Version.

Collection Overview
Title:Women's Action Coalition (Boston, Mass.) records
Dates:1992-1997
Location: 65/2; FF5/D4; FF5/D9; RS10/51
Call Number:M60
Volume: 1.25 cubic ft. (3 boxes, 2 flat files)
Scope and Content Note:The Boston Women's Action Coalition records document the group's direct actions, membership, and positions on women's issues, such as abortion, welfare, equal pay, breast cancer, sexuality, and domestic violence. Most documentation concerns the group's protests and other acts of resistance. Records concerning the direct actions show Boston WAC women participating in marches and rallies, protests, counter-presences, and theatrical performances. Records include summaries of each direct action, clippings, stickers, publicity, posters, and photographs. Meeting agendas (1992-1996) and minutes (1994-1996) provide evidence of members' discussions, the motivations and preparations for the direct actions, and other social and fund-raising activities. Promotional materials include new member packets, publications, brochures, and stickers, and reveal how the Boston Women's Action Coalition articulated its mission and positions on issues for both its members and general public. Clippings describe the Boston Women's Action Coalition's more visible actions and show varied public perspectives and reactions to the group's methods. Documentation concerning the group's founding is sparse. Photographs and other visual media are arranged according to the direct action they document.
Historical Abstract:The Women's Action Coalition was a national organization of women committed to taking direct action on issues related to the rights of women. Members saw visible, public resistance as a means to achieve economic parity and representation for women; an end to sexism, homophobia, racism, religious prejudice, and violence against women; and recognition of women's rights to health care, child care, housing, and reproductive freedom. The Women's Action Coalition chapter in Boston held its first meeting on August 26, 1992. Throughout the four active years of the group's existence, the Boston Women's Action Coalition participated in marches, rallies, and demonstrations supporting abortion rights, breast cancer awareness, lesbian and gay rights, and welfare rights. Members also placed artwork, stickers, and posters in public places to raise awareness about domestic violence, unequal pay for women, significant female historical figures, welfare reform measures, and political issues. The last meeting of the Boston Women's Action Coalition was on September 28, 1996.
Arrangement: Organized into 2 series: 1. Action Files; and 2. Subject Files.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Women's Action Coalition (Boston, Mass.)

  • Feminism -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Pro-choice movement -- Massachusetts
  • Public welfare -- Law and legislation -- Massachusetts
  • Women -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- Societies and clubs
  • Women -- Crimes against
  • Women's rights -- Massachusetts -- Boston

Restrictions:The collection is unrestricted.
Processor:Finding aid prepared by Michelle Light, September 2001

Historical Note

The Women's Action Coalition goals were to achieve economic parity and representation for women, an end to sexism, homophobia, racism, and violence against women, and recognition of women's rights to health care, child care, housing, and reproductive freedom. The Women's Action Coalition began in New York City on January 28, 1992, when a group of women met in reaction to two events, the Clarence Thomas hearings and the William Kennedy rape case. The Women's Action Coalition chapter in Boston held its first meeting on August 26, 1992. There were approximately thirty other chapters in the United States and Canada, including Western Massachusetts, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Washington D.C., Houston, and Los Angeles. Although united by a common mission statement, each chapter acted on its own issues and defined its own rules.

On September 22, 1992, the Boston Women's Action Coalition took its first direct action at the Bush/Quayle election campaign headquarters. They projected a 28' x 32' image of a raised, handcuffed hand with the quote, "Shut up and sit down," which George Bush had earlier made to a member of the National League of Families of American Prisoners Missing in Southeast Asia. The Boston Women's Action Coalition also gained publicity for two other prominent actions. On February 13, 1993, members protested the manner in which the Brighton Police Department responded to a Women's Action Coalition member's reports of domestic violence. In January 1995, the Boston Women's Action Coalition joined the Lesbian Avengers in protesting Governor Weld's response to the murder of two women who worked at women's health clinics in Brookline. Throughout the four active years of the group's existence, the Boston Women's Action Coalition participated in marches and rallies for pro-choice, lesbian and gay rights, and welfare rights. Members staged counter-presences at anti-abortion protests, the Cambridge Memorial Day parade, and Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade. They also placed artwork, stickers, and posters in public places to raise awareness about issues such as domestic violence, unequal pay for women, and welfare reform measures.

Beginning in 1995, active participation in the Boston Women's Action Coalition declined. The New York chapter stopped meeting in November 1995 due to lack of membership, but the Boston Women's Action Coalition continued to meet until September 28, 1996.

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Series:

1. Action Files, 1992-1996
Volume:0.85 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical
Summary:

This series documents the Boston Women's Action Coalition's direct actions. Records show Boston Women's Action Coalition members participating in marches and rallies, creating and pasting posters and stickers in public areas to advance their positions, and staging protests, counter- presences, and theatrical performances. Documentation includes narrative summaries of each direct action, clippings, stickers, publicity, posters, photographs, and a videotape.
BoxTitleDate
Abortion Access at Malden Hospital
1Summary, Scripts and Publicity1995
FF4/D5Placards1995
1Art show Photographs1996
1Body Image at the Mall1994
1Body Image Brochureca. 1994
1Bosnia March1993
Boston Gay Pride March
1Summary, Photographs, Publicity and Stickers1993-1996
FF4/D5Placardsca. 1993-1996
1Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade Counter-Presence1994
1Breast Cancer Newspaper Stuffing1994
1Brighton Police Action1993
1Bushwacked – "Stand Up and Scream!"1992
1Deck the Gap1995
1Economic Insecurity Rat Race1996
1Fingerprint This1995
1Framingham 8 (includes photographs)1993
1John Salvi Trial1996
Judgewatch
1Summary, Publicity, Questionnaires and Background Information1993-1995
FF4/D5Placardsca. 1993-1995
1Labor Day Action1993
1Make Sexism History1994
1Makeup Installation1993
1March on Washington (includes photographs)1993
Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition March
1Summary and Photographs1993
FF4/D5Placards1993
Memorial Day Parade
1Summary and Publicity1993
FF4/D9Placards1993
1Montreal Massacre1992-1993
1New Freedom Trail1992
Operation Retaliation
1Summary, Publicity, Photographs and Correspondence1993-1995
FF4/D5Placardsca. 1993-1995
1Promote Masturbation1995
1Remember our Sisters1993
1Rubbing Up Against the Law
1Summary and Photographs1996
3Closet Porn Cassette Tape1996
FF4/D9Placard1996
1 Sheros (includes photographs)1993-1995
1Shopping Actionca. 1994
State House Action
1Summary, Photographs, Publicity and Stickers1995
FF4/D5Placard1995
3Superbowl Sunday1993-1994
1Taking Space: Women Building Activism1994
1Teens and Sex1994
1Transaction1992
1Trophy Caseca. 1993-1994
1Valentine's Day1995
3Welfare vs. Wealthfare Game Sheets1995
1Whitburn Poster Wheatpasting1995
1Women's Community Cancer Project Demonstration1993
1Women's Memorial Day (includes photographs)1994
Workfare
1Summary, Publicity and Stickers1993
FF4/D9Placards1993
1World AIDS Day1993
3Videotape of Actions and News Coverage1992-1995
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Series:

2. Subject Files, 1992-1997
Volume:0.4 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical
Summary:

This series documents the organization and administration of the Boston Women's Action Coalition. Meeting agendas (1992-1996) and minutes (1994-1996) provide evidence of members' discussions, the motivations and preparations for the direct actions, and other social and fund-raising activities. Promotional materials reveal how the Boston Women's Action Coalition articulated its mission and positions on issues for both its members and the general public. These records include new member packets, publications, brochures, and stickers. Clippings describe the Boston Women's Action Coalition's more visible actions and show varied public perspectives and reactions to the group's methods. Documentation concerning the founding of the group is sparse.
BoxTitleDate
2Anthology Submission1996-1997
2Archivesca. 1996-1997
2Calendar1994
Clippings
3Boston Women's Action Coalition1992-1996
3General Women's Action Coalition1992
2Correspondence1995-1996
2Meeting Agendas and Minutes (10 folders)1992-1996
2Meeting Format Guidelinesca. 1992-1996
2Men in Supporting Roles Proposal1993
2New Member Packetca. 1992-1995
2Phone Tree and the Women's Action Coalition Lineca. 1992-1996
3Pins and Stampca. 1992-1996
2Promotional Materialsca. 1992-1996
2Retreat Photographs1994-1995
2T-Shirtn.d.
2Third Anniversary Photographs1995
2Women's Action Coalition Stats: The Facts About Women1992-1993
2Yard Salesca. 1992-1996
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