Scenes from the Feminist Movement in the 1970s

The Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance archive contains a series of zines and newsletters published throughout the United States, ranging from the Dayton Women’s Liberation News to the Los Angeles-based Everywoman. (I was looking for the Research Triangle Women’s Liberation Newsletter.) The collection, available on microfilm, offers a look into the fascinating print culture of the feminist movement, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and reveals the issues and actions taken up by women in local communities — prodding universities to set up daycare centers and make contraception available to undergraduates, setting up judo classes and monitoring politicians and journalists for expressions of sexism, to name a few. Below are a few striking images from the collection (you can click on them to enlarge):

This notice, from the Female Liberation of Durham-Chapel Hill Newsletter in 1970, shows that some things never change — namely, the evilness of Columbia University’s administration, and the perennial excuse that academic jobs are too demanding for women to balance research and teaching with family life.

In this piece, a member chides others for “liberating supplies” from the local universities, where numerous contributors to the newsletter appear to have worked.

A theme I have noticed in many of the zines is an anger that concerns of African Americans regarding racism received more consideration from the Establishment than issues of sexism. This snapshot cites gender stereotyping at the American Association of University Professors (and also ponders the possibility of American kibbutzim):

An article that purports to explain how to find an abortion is derided as a “typical liberal cop-out.”

There were many other images and excerpts I would have liked to have copied, but I ran out of time.

Author: Alex Sayf Cummings

Alex Sayf Cummings is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University, whose work deals with technology, law, public policy, and the political culture of the modern United States. Alex's writing has appeared in Salon, the Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, Al Jazeera, and Southern Cultures, among other publications, and the book Democracy of Sound was published by Oxford University Press in 2013 (paperback, 2017). Alex can be followed on Twitter at @akbarjenkins.

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