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Archives & Special Collections: Promoting Women's Equality at Union


After Union went co-ed in 1970, several efforts were undertaken to improve the status of women on campus.  The President's Commission on the Status of Women at Union College, whose charter became effective on February 14, 1975, was an attempt on the part of the administration to help solve this issue.  The Commission included a group faculty, students, and staff that addressed various topics such as child care, education, sexual harassment prevention and awareness, and the status and fair treatment of the women in the Union College Community.  Special Collections hold minutes, memos, by-laws and other information from the Commission's work.

One important outcome of the President's Commission on the Status of Women was the creation of an Affirmative Action program. The school year of 1978-79 included 179 teaching faculty: 150 men and 29 women.  The Commission saw these numbers and determined that although Union had agreed to adhere to the 1964 equal opportunity in employment law, it needed a stronger affirmative action commitment in order to recruit more women to campus.  A subcommittee on Affirmative Action was subsequently formed in 1979 and by 1981, the college hired an Affirmative Action officer.  In 1994, a Sexual Harassment Policy for employees and students of the College was also passed.

Union created a Women's Studies program in the fall of 1989, nineteen years after its gates were opened to women students.  Colleges all over the country began to institute Women's Studies in the 1970's when the academic discipline had started to gain credibility.  Those who tried to establish departments in the discipline were met with much opposition on many campuses.

Primary Sources

Vertical Files

Affirmative Action 1972-1989 (Special Collections)

Affirmative Action 1990 - (Special Collections)

Women's Studies (Special Collections)

President's Commission on the Status of Women at Union College (Special Collections)


President's Commission on the Status of Women at Union College, "Papers, 1972-1984" Located at the Hattie Street Warehouse, three boxes, Shelves 5B Coll number 326. (Request at Special Collections)

Government Documents

United States Civil Service Commission-Bureau of Intergovernmental Personnel Program. Guidelines for the Development of an Affirmative Action Plan-Revised. Washington: The Commission, 1975 Government Documents CS 1.7/4: AC8/3. (Located in Government Documents)

Secondary Sources

Belz, Herman. Equality Transformed: A Quarter-Century of Affirmative Action New Brunswick: Social Philosophy & Policy Center, 1994. Located in the Stacks.

Clayton, Susan D. Justice, Gender, and Affirmative Action: Critical Perspectives on Women and Gender. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. Located in the Stacks.

Chafe, William Henry. The Paradox of Change: American Women in the 20th Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Located in the Stacks.

Henderson, Jean Glidden. Ms. Goes to College. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1975. Located in the Stacks.

Howe, Florence. The Impact of Women's Studies on the Campus and the Disciplines. Washington DC: US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, National Institute of Education, Program on Teaching, 1980. Located in Government Documents.

Luebke, Barbara F. and Mary Ellen Reilly. Women's Studies Graduates: The First GenerationNY: Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1995. Located in the Stacks.

Martin, Jane Roland. Changing the Educational Landscape: Philosophy, Women and the Curriculum. New York Routledge, 1994. Located in the Stacks.

McGrath, Patricia L. The Unfinished Assignment: Equal Education for WomenWashington: Worldwatch Institute, 1976. Located in the Stacks.

Schuster, Marilyn R. and Susan R. VanDyne, eds. Women's Place in the Academy: Transforming the Liberal Arts CurriculumTotowa, NJ: Rowan and Allanheld, 1985. Located in the Stacks.

Stimpson, Catharine R. Women's Studies in the United States. New York: Ford Foundation, 1986. Located in the Stacks.