NOW Foundation Launches Oral History Project to Preserve Breadth and Depth of Our Movement

Article excerpt

Every activist knows that, while the NOW Action Center in Washington is visible in the news, a lot of NOW actions occur when a local chapter gathers to decide who will testify at the county commissioners' meeting about inadequate funding for the local battered women's shelter, or when the state board decides to raise money to pay a lobbyist in the legislature.

The Oral History Project is designed to record and preserve this history of what The Washington Post has described as the largest and most effective organization in the second wave of the women's movement.

While the Schlesinger Library for the History of Women at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute holds official NOW documents, what a scholar reads there seldom reveals what it's really like to be on the front line of the action, picketing Wal-Mart or linking arms in front of the local abortion clinic to protect patients from screaming protesters.

Even the best-kept NOW Board minutes don't tell about the personal sacrifices activists have made over the years, the impact their activism had on their relationships and their children's lives, what they learned and how they grew from their experience.

In short, how NOW changed their lives while they were busy changing the world. These accounts are vital to understanding our full history, and in-depth personal accounts are invaluable as a counter-point to news articles of the time. …