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Honoring Jenny Knauss

Honoring Jenny Knauss

Memorial honoring Jenny Knauss to be held Nov. 16

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Naomi Weisstein Memorial Celebration

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The Herstory project is saddened by the death of Naomi Weisstein, an active member of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, comedian, musician and pioneering neuroscientist who passed away in March. Naomi was a passionate and committed fighter for women’s liberation and she will be missed dearly. Her husband Jesse Lemisch and other loved ones are presenting a memorial for her in New York on September 20th.

The memorial is open to the public and will feature remembrances from Gloria Steinem, Martin Duberman, Amy Kesselman, Heather Booth and Naomi’s husband Jesse Lemisch. If you are interested in attending then please RSVP. Information is below.

Read more... [Naomi Weisstein Memorial Celebration]
Film Showing: She's Beautiful When She's Angry


She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Directed by Mary Dore

Opens at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre from March 13th 2015

3733 North Southport Ave, Chicago | 773 871 6607

Special Q&As with Mary Dore and women from the film

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971. She’s Beautiful takes us from the founding of NOW, when ladies wore hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation; from intellectuals like Kate Millett to the street theatrics of WITCH (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell!).

Remarkably, there has never been a theatrical documentary about the early days of women’s liberation. She’s Beautiful aims not to romanticize the early movement, but to dramatize it in its exhilarating, quarrelsome, sometimes heart-wrenching glory.

The film does not shy away from the controversies over race, sexual identity and leadership that arose in the women’s movement.  She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry captures the spirit of the time -- thrilling, scandalous, and often hilarious.

Read more... [Film Showing: She's Beautiful When She's Angry]
March for Climate Justice! Chicago on Sept. 6th and NYC on the 21st!



On September 21st, thousands will come to New York City for the People’s Climate March. Organized by Bill McKibben’s and a coalition of orther environmental groups, the march is expected to be perhaps the largest mobilization for climate justice in American history. It is part of a growing wave of activism and advocacy demanding that the US government take decisive action to radically reduce carbon emissions and stem the disastrous effects of climate change.

Another part of that wave passes through here in Chicago on September 6th -- and you should plan to be at it whether or not you’re intending to be in NYC.

The Great March for Climate Action

On March 1st of this year, hundreds of people in Los Angeles took the first steps in a march across the country bound for Washington, DC. The Great March for Climate Action will culminate in DC this November and will be passing through the Chicago area for a public march action on September 6th.

Read more... [March for Climate Justice! Chicago on Sept. 6th and NYC on the 21st!]
The Girls in the Band - Movie and Brunch 8/16

Join Chicago Area Women's History Counciland AAUW Chicago for Brunch and Screening of the Film "The Girls in the Band"

Girls In the Band

Help celebrate the 10th Anniversary of WITASWAN (Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now) and it's success promoting women positive films.

Saturday, August 16, 2014   

11:00 am - Brunch at Bravo Restaurant

1701 Maple Ave, Evanston, IL

1:00 pm - Movie Screening at Cinemark Evanston

Theater, 1715 Maple Ave, Evanston, IL

After the Film - Discussion with Director/Producer Judy Chaikin

In the 30s and 40s, hundreds of women musicians toured the country in glamorous all-girl bands, while other played side by side with male counterparts. By the mid 50s female jazz musicians had literally disappeared from the workplace, their names and contributions completely forgotten.

"The Girls in the Band" tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big ban instrumentalists and their groundbreaking journeys from the late 30s to the present day. These talented women endured sexism, racism and thwarted opportunities for decades, yet continued to persevere, inspire and elevate their talents in a field that seldom welcomed them.

For more information, the trailer and rave reviews of the film go to:

Cost: Movie screening and Q & A - $20.00

     Brunch at Bravo Restaurant - $25.00

     Brunch and movie combo - $50 - includes special reserved seating  

Reservations required:

Mail checks, made out to AAUW, to Chicago AAUW, 2746 W. Morse Ave.

Chicago, IL 60645

or go online to purchase tickets:

This event is cosponsored by Chicago Area Women's History Council


Women and Labor Linked


The historical relationship between the labor movement and the women's movement has been brought back to public attention, thanks to the Supreme Court of the U.S.  On June 30, the last day of its session, the Court issued rulings that are harmful to both women and labor unions.  These rulings turn back previous advancements for both groups.

Many people are not aware of the role labor women played in the early history of the second wave women's movement.  With its recent decisions, the Supreme Court has reinforced why this untold story matters.

Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) will celebrate the contribution of labor women to the women's movement at an event on Saturday, September 27, 2014, at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Labor & the Women's Movement:  The untold story and why it matters" will review the history, including what really happened to Rosie the Riveter.  

The keynote speaker will be Brigid O'Farrell, author of Rocking the Boat - Union Women's Voices, 1915-1975 and She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker.

Several topics will be explored through panel discussions during the day:

  • The personal stories of labor women who played key roles in founding the second wave women's movement will be brought to life.
  • Young feminist historians who are writing about the second wave will present their new scholarship.
  • Success for women and labor through the legal system will be highlighted.
  • Women playing key roles today in a number of contemporary organizations will discuss their strategies for success.

The lunch speaker will be noted historian Dr. Alice Kessler-Harris, the R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History at Columbia University.  She has written extensively on women's labor history.

The closing session will look to the future and stress the importance of women and labor working together to preserve the victories that have been gained. Closing speakers will be Dr. Emily E. LaBarbera Twarog, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois School of Labor & Employment Relations, and Mary Anne Sedey, St. Louis employment attorney.

Saturday night will feature an awards dinner, honoring feminists and labor leaders.

More details on the agenda and speakers as well as a registration form are available on the event website,

For hotel reservations, call 1-800-468-3571; use the group name, Veteran Feminists.


A Revolutionary Moment

The following article from Vivian Rothstein on March's women's liberation conference appeared originally at Capital & Main on April 3rd. 

The civil rights movement of the 1960s is now iconic. Who would speak out against its aims? And the farm workers are finally getting their due as Cesar Chavez and the power of the organization he led are being recalled in film and literature. But who speaks up for the women’s liberation movement? In popular culture, its activists were usually portrayed as self-centered, bra-burning,* man-hating New Yorkers.

To create an historic record of what really happened in the women’s movement, and to rescue it from ridicule and misconceptions, Boston University recently organized a conference titled, “A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the Late 1960s and Early 1970s.” The gathering drew more than 600 people — about two-thirds women activists and academics of that certain age, and one-third younger women and men interested in getting the history right.

In the opening conference session feminist historian Sara Evans explained that the spark that lit women’s liberation came from the other movements of the 1960s, where women gained organizing and strategizing skills as civil rights, peace and anti-poverty activists. That spark and those skills led women like me to create rape hotlines, reproductive rights campaigns, liberation schools, consciousness-raising groups, women’s newspapers, women’s clinics and innumerable other projects from Seattle to Chicago, Baltimore to Atlanta, Boston to Los Angeles and many, many cities and towns in between.

One of the most brilliant insights of women’s liberation, that the personal is political, erased the division between private and public life. This assertion brought the treatment of women out of the shadows and into public scrutiny, debate and re-definition. Journalist and historian Ruth Rosen described how, through a feminist renaming process, the long-accepted tradition of wife beating was transformed, in the public mind, to a national scourge called domestic violence. Rape, considered a hazard of being female, became a crime of sexual assault. Salacious language and acts on the job became sexual harassment, now illegal. Without this renaming of women’s grievances, we wouldn’t have been able to act.

Women’s liberation was the largest social movement in the history of the United States, said historian Linda Gordon. The rebellion was so broad and open that a huge range of people could participate, subverting some of the oldest structures of domination in our country and beyond. Within universities, religious denominations, health institutions, job sites, day care centers, family relationships and the home itself, feminist activists stepped up with new interpretations of societal relations and concrete demands for change. As Gordon described it, women began to understand that gender is not a characteristic of individual people, but rather a social system that could be challenged and transformed.

In Chicago, where I lived in the 1960s and ’70s, we formed the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, a citywide structure of women’s consciousness-raising groups and organizing programs. The union ran a newspaper, rape hotline, classes and skill-building workshops, along with a graphics collective, abortion referral service, a women’s rock band and a speakers’ bureau. At the same time we initiated campaigns to change oppressive and sexist laws and policies. Over the nearly 10 years of the organization’s existence, hundreds of women benefited from its services, volunteered on its hotlines and became leaders.

There was a belief in those heady days that everything could be changed – perhaps even overnight. And that the actions of a few could make history. So experimentation and audacious ambitions seemed sensible. Young people were challenging power structures all over the world and women were emboldened to bring our issues to the fore. There was a “utopian optimism,” as Gordon explained, that permeated the times.

Let’s hope the young women who attended the Boston conference will continue to search out the grassroots activism of the women’s liberation movement and write its history. This is a movement that deeply changed our nation and the world, and deserves attention and respect.

*Feminists never burned their bras. But others, including a Chicago radio station did, as a publicity stunt.

The Past and Future of Feminism
unnamedOver 600 people came to Boston University from March 27th through 29th to attend the conference “A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.” Though a great many of those who attended were themselves veterans of those heady years, others were of a younger, emerging generation of feminists looking to learn from them. This revealed how relevant the struggles of the past continue to be; with women’s reproductive freedom and basic everyday rights both under assault across the country, there is a clear need to continue the fight.

During the course of the weekend, speakers and participants grappled with a variety of questions currently facing contemporary feminists and feminism in general. One theme that naturally arose time and again is that of building links and solidarity -- across communities, orientations, traditions and age groups.

In her keynote address, Personal Politics author Sara Evans challenged the notion that the women’s movement of the 1960s and ‘70s was dominated by whites and didn’t prioritize questions of race and racism. By putting the women’s movement in a broader context -- one of global upheaval and revolutions -- Evans insisted that today’s intersectional feminists have more in common with yesterday’s feminists than one might be led to believe.
Read more... [The Past and Future of Feminism]
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We say that a small group of women can make mountains move. That was the lesson of CWLU workgroups in health, education, employment, and gay rights, to name a few. There we created the ideas and actions that helped women liberate each other from oppressive beliefs and old social habits.
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