Skip to Main Content
University of Oregon
UO Libraries

Politics & Social Activism in Special Collections

This guide offers brief descriptions of relevant politics and social activism collections. Links are provided whenever online inventories exist.

Related Guides

Teaching with Primary Source Materials

Our collections exist to be used. When students work directly with primary source materials, historic photographs, and documents that are old or unique, they discover an excitement and passion not generated by textbooks.

Primary source documents can inspire, but they also teach about learning to verify sources, tracking down connections, finding evidence from content and from physical clues.

The Oregon Women’s Political History Collection in Special Collections & University Archives

The Oregon Women’s Political History Collection comprises over a dozen individual manuscript collections. The Collection was developed in the 1990s as a collaborative effort among the UO Libraries, the Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS), and the Friends of the Oregon Women’s Political History Collection. These collections constitute over 200 linear feet of manuscript material and represent women’s political and activist work in Oregon in the latter half of the twentieth century; they provide a window into the work of the women activists in the 1970s and 1980s whose efforts focused on achieving equal human rights for all people in Oregon. In particular, these women worked to increase women’s political engagement in Oregon and empower women to fully participate in elective politics and government agencies at the local, county, and state levels in Oregon. Represented in the collections are the records of the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus (OWPC), the records of the Oregon chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women), and the papers of individual politicians and activists. The OWPC’s “Campaign School” was particularly instrumental in helping women to get elected to political office in Oregon.

With access to the correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, reports, scrapbooks, notes, newspaper clippings, subject files, photographs, ephemera, video recordings, audio recordings, artifacts and printed materials found in these collections, researchers can scrutinize aspects of state political history and enrich scholarship on Oregon women’s roles and contributions.

These collections are made available through a grant project supported in whole or part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.

Anderson, Jean Fuller Papers, 1978-1990 

Call number: Coll 312

Size: .5 linear feet (1 container)

Summary: Jean Fuller Anderson is an American educator and publisher who taught courses on women and media at Oregon State University and focused her work on economic equity for women. The collection contains materials related to Anderson's teaching and her work related to economic equity for women, particularly the Economic Equity for Women Conference, 1987-1989.

Davis, Eleanor Papers, 1963-1989

Call number: Coll 351

Size: 8.25 linear feet (7 containers)

Summary: This collection includes professional and personal materials relating to Eleanor Davis’ work on the advancement of women in Oregon. This includes her involvement in groups such as the Task Force on Sex Discrimination in Education, the State Advisory Council on Sex Discrimination in Employment, the Oregon Council for Women's Equality, the American Association of University Women, the Unitarian Church, and a variety of other civil rights-related commissions and task forces.

Dost, Jeanne Papers, 1972-1988

Call number: Coll 366

Size: 7.5 linear feet (5 containers)

Summary: Jeanne Dost was born on August 12, 1929 in Walla Walla, Washington to Marge and William Ebbert. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951 from Washington State University, her MA in Economics from Radcliffe in 1953, and her Ph.D from Harvard in 1959. In addition to her accomplished academic career, she founded and served as the first Director of Oregon State University's Women's Studies Department and served as the first president of the Oregon Women's Political Caucus. The Jeanne Dost papers include reports, correspondence, and other material pertaining to the OSU Women's Studies Department and the Dost's work with the OWPC and NWPC.

Dunn, Nancy Papers, 1986-1990

Call number: Coll 362

Size: .75 linear feet (2 containers)

Summary: Nancy Dunn worked for women's and human rights in Eugene, OR. She was a member of the City of Eugene Commission on the Rights of Women and the City of Eugene Human Rights President's Council. She also worked with the City of Eugene Human Rights Program.

Eugene Women’s Crisis Center Records, 1977-1991

Call number: Coll 313

Size: 5.0 linear feet (6 containers)

Summary: The Eugene Women’s Crisis Center, established in the 1970s, provided assistance and support to victims of sexual assault. The Eugene Women’s Crisis Center records consist of minutes, administrative documents, records of training and events, grant records, and subject files.

Frye, Helen Papers, 1971-2011

Call number: Coll 348

Size: 16.0 linear feet (12 containers)

Summary: Helen Frye was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1930. She earned her B.A. in English in 1953, her M.A. in Education in 1961, and her J.D. in 1966, all from the University of Oregon. After earning her M.A. she taught high school English; after earning her law degree she joined her husband, William Frye, in private legal practice. After five years in private practice, Frye became a judge for Oregon Circuit Court's second district (Lane County). In 1980, Frye was appointed by President Carter as the first female judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon. After 15 years as U.S. District Court judge, Frye began working part-time as a senior judge in 1995. She retired years later. Frye died on April 21, 2011 and is survived by her four children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Hendriksen, Margie Papers, 1971-1992

Call number: Coll 365

Size: 7.5 linear feet (5 containers)

Summary: Margie Hendriksen was a Democratic Oregon politician. She was a member of the Oregon Advisory committee to the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights, the Democratic Central Committee, and the Democratic Executive Committee, the state Steering Committee, and the Western Oregon Health System Agency. She founded the Oregon Women's Political Caucus and was an Oregon representative to the National Women's Political Caucus. She was an advocate for women's rights, affirmative action, the Equal Rights Amendment, and comparable worth. She was active in pro-choice and domestic violence legislation. She worked to pass legislation to regulate video display terminals (VDTs). Margie sponsored the Oregon Pay Equity Bill, which passed in 1985 when she was an Oregon senator and chair of the Senate Labor Committee.

Kafoury, Gretchen Papers, 1971-1983 

Call number: Coll 353

Size: 19.5 linear feet (14 containers)

Summary: Gretchen Kafoury co-founded the Oregon chapter of NOW in 1970 and the Oregon Women's Political Caucus in 1971. She served as an Oregon State Representative (1977-1982), as a Multnomah County Commissioner (1985-1990) and on the Portland City Council (1991-1998). This collection is comprised of a variety of materials collected by Kafoury throughout the 1970's and early 1980's that are related to various women's groups and causes.

Milligan, Marian Papers, 1974-1983  

Call number: Coll 370

Size: 7.5 linear feet (5 containers)

Summary: Marian Milligan, of Salem, Oregon, is a women's activist and political volunteer. She has been involved with a number of organizations, including the OWPC Legislative Task Force, Women’s Crisis Service, INC., Salem-OWPC, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), NOW, Oregon Council for Women’s Equity, and the Oregon’s Women Conference.

Novick, Jane Papers, 1968-1990  

Call number: Coll 368

Size: 21.5 linear feet (15 containers)

Summary: Jane Novick served as the secretary for the Eugene Future Power Committee. She was involved in the American Civil Liberties Unions, the League of Women Voters, and the Lane County Democratic Party. She was an activist opponent against EWEB's usage of nuclear power, and she was a key individual in stopping the construction of a $234 million nuclear power plant near Big Creek between Florence and Yachats in 1970.

Oregon Now Records, 1971-2006  

Call number: Coll 371

Size: 64.25 linear feet (47 containers)

Summary: The National Organization for Women (NOW) aims to bring women into full participation in society — sharing equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities with men, while living free from discrimination. The records of the Oregon chapter of NOW include by-laws, meeting minutes and agendas, events records, correspondence, and other materials documenting the group's political, educational, and outreach activities in the state. Of particular note are the materials documenting the group's fight for reproductive rights for women and the push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Oregon Women’s Political Caucus Records, 1971-1999  

Call number: Coll 369

Size: 56.0 linear feet (39 containers)

Summary: Founded in 1971, the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus (OWPC) was a state-wide women’s political organization that mirrored the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) at a state level. Along with fighting to right women’s issues, the OWPC also strove to achieve equal human rights for all people, regardless of sex, color, race or religion, as reflected in this collection. This collection contains materials from 1971 to 1999 from a wide range of donors including Gretchen Kafoury (the co-founder of the OWPC), Margie Hendriksen, Eleanor Davis, Sara Lichtenstein and Merry Demarest. For more information on Oregon women’s political history, be sure to look through the individual collections of the women listed above, as well as the Oregon National Organization for Women (NOW) collection. The collections contain correspondence, reports, financial papers, publications, conference proceedings, and training materials, along with many subject files.

Ryles, Nancy Papers, 1972-1990 

Call number: Coll 364

Size: 26.0 linear feet (18 containers)

Summary: Nancy Ryles was a Republican Oregon politician who served on both the Oregon House of Representatives (1979-1982) and the Oregon Senate (1983-1987). She also served on the Oregon Public Utility Commission from 1987-1990, the first woman to do so. She was an advocate for women's rights, minority equality, and Death with Dignity. She worked closely with the Beaverton School District in advocacy of education, and an elementary school in the district was named after her in 1992. Nancy grew up in Portland and married Vernon Ryles Jr. in 1957. Nancy died of cancer on September 12, 1990 at age 52.



Ask An Archivist | SCUA

Chat Email Phone TextVisit

Preferred Citation Format for SCUA Materials

[Identification of item], Date (if known), Collection Title, Collection Number, Box and Folder number [or photo ID number], Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Mission | Special Collections & University Archives

Special Collections and University Archives is the primary repository for the University of Oregon’s archives, rare books, historic photographs, and one of the largest historical manuscripts collections in the Pacific Northwest. Our mission is to acquire, preserve, and make available a clearly defined set of primary sources and rare books, reflecting the written, visual, and audio history and culture of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and selected aspects of American and world history. Our diverse collections support all types of research, from K–12 education to international scholarship. We strive to play an active and creative role in the teaching, research, and service missions of the University.

Historical Collection Strengths

  • Oregon history, politics, culture
  • Authors and illustrators of children’s books
  • The conservative and libertarian movement in the last half of the twentieth century
  • Popular literature, with an emphasis on Western fiction
  • Missionaries to foreign countries, especially in the Far East
  • Labor History
  • Journalism and Communications
  • Photographs of the Northwest, including the Major Lee Moorhouse and Angelus Studio collections
  • Environmental history
  • Northwest literature, including fiction by Ken Kesey, Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm, Ursula K. Le Guin, Molly Gloss, and William Stafford
  • Doris Ulmann photograph archives of Appalachia
  • Utopian and intentional communities
  • Northwest architecture
  • Northwest economic history