Summary Information
Title: Susanna Downie Papers
Collection Number: AIS.1991.23
Creator: Downie, Susanna

Collection Dates: 1972-1990
Extent: 11.25 linear feet (9 boxes)

Language: English

Abstract:
The papers of Susanna Downie date from 1972 to 1990 and document her activities within the feminist movement and involvement within such organizations. While there are some materials from the national and regional levels, the majority of the files concentrate on the activities of local Pittsburgh organizations. These files are largely administrative in nature and document the development and maintenance of the following organizations in the Pittsburgh Feminist Network: the local National Organization for Women (NOW) chapters, and the Pittsburgh Women's Peace Network. This collection also highlights Downie's role within the Women's Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh and her related endeavors with the 1987 National Women's Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Publisher:

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
412-648-3232
archives-ref@mail.pitt.edu
Date Published:

2009
Author:

Finding aid prepared by Jaimie George and Wendy Pflug
Biography

Susanna Felder Downie was born November 21, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Robert Rex and Emily Cobb Downie. She married Wilfred Sellars (1912-1989), an American philosopher and professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Susanna Downie was extremely active in the local Pittsburgh-area feminist movement. She served on the editorial board for the Pittsburgh Feminist Network and its publication, which was originally entitled Allegheny Feminist and later renamed the Network News. She was also active in the National Organization for Women (NOW) at both the local and state levels. In the 1970s and 1980s, Downie taught at the Women’s Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh. In conjunction with her position at the Center, she served as the principle editor for the publication Decade of Achievement, 1977-1987: a report on a survey based on the national plan of action for women. The "National Plan of Action" was enacted at the 1977 National Women’s Conference which addressed twenty-six areas where women needed to work for advancement within society. Downie served as researcher and editor to evaluate the progress of the action ten years later, which resulted in the publication. Another publication authored by Downie was the book, The marriage and the crisis of Emily Dickinson: a study of the vocabulary and some poems, of the 1860-1865 period. She was also actively involved in the Women’s International News Service (WINS) and the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP) and helped organize their 1985 conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

In addition to her academic work, Downie was a passionate advocate in the peace movement. She was a member of local peace organizations Peace Links and the Pittsburgh Women’s Peace Network. Downie was also interested in environmental activism and was an ardent developer of sustainable living; for a time she lived in Lakemont, Georgia, and built a geodesic dome house. She later moved to Montana and then later Iowa to “live off the land.” Susanna Downie died in Fairfield, Iowa, on November 7, 2003. She was 63 years old.


Collection Scope and Content Notes

The Susanna Downie Papers are organized into eleven series. Each series contains a detailed scope note. The materials largely date from the late 1970s to late 1980s and document her activities within local Pittsburgh-area feminist and peace organizations. The Downie papers are largely administrative files of the local organizations in which she was a member. The collection includes handbooks, conference notes and proceedings, research files, and correspondence.


Arrangement

Series I. Pittsburgh Feminist Network, 1976-1988

Series II. National Organization for Women, 1973-1989

Series III. Women's Programming on Cable Television, 1982-1983

Series IV. Women's Agenda, 1983-1990

Series V. Women's Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh, 1973-1990

Series VI. Anti-Nuclear War Activities, 1980-1989

Series VII. National Women's Conference Center (NWCC) Conferences, 1977-1990

Series VIII. National Women's Conference Center (NWCC)1987 Conference Preparation, 1977-1988

Series IX. 1985 Nairobi Conference, 1984-1985

Series X. National Women's Studies Association (NSWA), 1974-1988

Series XI. Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1972-1987


Subject Terms

Topics
  • Feminism -- United States
  • Nuclear warfare
  • Women -- United States -- Social conditions
  • Women's rights -- United States

Corporate Names
  • National Organization for Women.
  • National Women's Conference Center (National Women's Conference Committee).
  • National Women's Studies Association.
  • Peace Links.
  • Pittsburgh Feminist Network.
  • University of Pittsburgh. Women Studies Program.
  • Women's International News Serivce.

Personal Names
  • Downie, Susanna

Locations
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)

Category
  • Personal papers
  • Social action
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Women

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Susanna Downie in 1991.

Preferred Citation:

Susanna Downie Papers, 1972-1990, AIS.1991.23, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Jaimie George in July 2007.

Copyright:

The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.


Collection Inventory

Series I. Pittsburgh Feminist Network 1976-1988

Scope and Content Notes:

The Pittsburgh Feminist Network materials document Susanna Downie's activities within the Pittsburgh-area feminist movement. More specifically, these files document the transition from the publication Allegheny Feminist to the Network News. The change in publication title was preceded by the development of the Pittsburgh Feminist Network, which sought to organize local feminists and keep them updated on women-related news. The organization sponsored at least two local conferences and eventually dissolved in the mid-1980s. Downie was extremely active in this organization as a founder, member of the editorial board, and council member. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject topic.


Box 1
Folder 1 Allegheny Feminist, 1976-1981
Folder 2 Network News, 1981-1985
Folder 3 Communications at a Crossroads, 1984-1986
Folder 4 Communications at a Crossroads 1987-1988
Folder 5 Computer project, 1982
Folder 6 Conference materials, 1981
Folder 7 Conference feedback, 1981
Folder 8 Conference materials, 1982
Folder 9 Correspondence 1978-1985
Folder 10 Correspondence 1978-1985
Folder 11 Correspondence 1978-1985
Folder 12 Correspondence 1978-1985
Folder 13 Correspondence 1978-1985
Folder 14 Correspondence 1978-1985
Folder 15 Council materials, 1983-1984
Folder 16 Establishment of PFN, 1980-1981
Folder 17 Feminist group listings, 1979
Folder 18 Mailing lists, undated
Folder 19 Photographs and miscellaneous materials, undated
Folder 20 Writers/volunteers/committee lists, undated

Series II. National Organization for Women 1973-1989

Scope and Content Notes:

This series focuses primarily on the local Pittsburgh-area chapters of NOW and the Pennsylvania chapter of NOW. More specifically, this section contains the 1980-1981 handbook for the Lawrenceville chapter as well as related file on the handbook and the latest revisions. Also present is the Pennsylvania NOW Times from 1978-1990 and the Pittsburgh-area NOW newsletter from 1978-1988. These publications and handbooks are supplemented by some correspondence and fliers, meeting agendas, and conference materials from 1976-1988 and is arranged alphabetically by subject topic. One of the more extensive files documents the 1981 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) campaign.


Box 2
Folder 1 Pittsburgh-area Chapter handbook, 1980-1981
Folder 2 Correspondence and miscellaneous materials, 1976-1989
Folder 3 ERA campaign, 1980-1981
Folder 4 ERA campaign, 1980-1981
Folder 5 Pittsburgh-area NOW chapters newsletters, 1978-1988
Folder 6 Pittsburgh-area NOW chapters newsletters, 1978-1988
Folder 7 Publicity handbook, ca.1982
Folder 8 Southwest Council of Pennsylvania, 1981-1985
Folder 9 Pennsylvania NOW, 1981
Folder 10 Pennsylvania conference, 1979
Folder 11 Pennsylvania NOW Times, 1978-1990
Folder 12 Mid-Atlantic conference, 1985
Folder 13 Eastern Region conference, 1973
Folder 14 National conferences, 1975,1977
Folder 15 National conferences, 1975,1977

Series III. Women's Programming on Cable Televison 1982-1983

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains several files on developing programming aimed at women on cable television. These files include publications as well as materials from Pittsburgh's Annual Community Communications Conference. Material in the Women's Programming on Cable Television series dates from 1982-1983 and is arranged chronologically.

Folder 16 Administrative files, 1982-1983
Folder 17 Administrative files, 1982-1983
Folder 18 Newspaper clippings, 1982-1983

Series IV. Women's Agenda

Scope and Content Notes:

The materials in this series document the Women's Agenda organization activities in Pennsylvania and some national initiatives. This series focuses on instituting legislative change to improve the situation of women by lobbying for budget increases in childcare and other women's issues. The Women's Agenda series is arranged by date.


Box 3
Folder 1 Conference on older women, 1983
Folder 2 United Nations Development Fund for Women, 1987-1988
Folder 3 General files, 1984
Folder 4 Pennsylvania meetings and conference, 1986-1987
Folder 5 Conference and general files, 1988
Folder 6 Board member files and general files, 1989
Folder 7 Employment search for researcher position, 1989
Folder 8 Board member files and general files, 1990

Series V. Women's Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh 1973-1990

Scope and Content Notes:

This series is arranged alphabetically by subject topic and contains administrative information on the development of the Women's Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh. This series also contains the Women's Studies Center publication, Synthesis, and newsletter. Related to these files are the materials for the 1987 NWCC Conference (see series VIII). The overlap occurs because Downie worked as researcher at the Women's Studies Center and her primary responsibility was to serve as main researcher and editor for the Decade of Achievement publication for the 1987 NWCC Conference. This publication documented the advancements women had made in business, politics, education, insurance, reproductive rights, employment, domestic abuse awareness, child care, and the ERA.

Folder 9 Applications for center director position, 1974
Folder 10 Coordinating committee files, 1973-1974
Folder 10 Courses offered, 1974-1980
Folder 12 Karate union 1977-1984
Folder 13 Lectures and research papers, 1972-1985
Folder 14 Library resources 1975-1980
Folder 15 Miscellaneous administrative files, 1976-1988
Folder 16 Women's Studies Center Newsletter 1982-1990
Folder 17 Sex bias lawsuit, 1975-1977
Folder 18 Women's studies symposium, Women in the Future, 1987
Folder 19 Synthesis 1973-1987

Series VI. Anti-Nuclear War Activities 1980-1989

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains several files from the local Peace Links organization and the Pittsburgh Women's Peace Network. These files contain correspondence, event notification, information packets, and administrative files that document the maintenance and development of these organizations from 1983-1988 and is arranged chronologically. In addition to the administrative files, this series includes numerous files of newspaper clippings that describe international affairs, such as security issues concerning Central American and Iran in the summer of 1987 and the Reagan administration's nuclear weapons policies circa 1984.


Box 4
Folder 1 Peace Links correspondence and miscellaneous, 1980-1987
Folder 2 Peace Links correspondence and miscellaneous, 1980-1987
Folder 3 Peace Links correspondence and miscellaneous, 1980-1987
Folder 4 Peace Links correspondence and miscellaneous, 1980-1987
Folder 5 Peace Links newsletters, 1984-1989
Folder 6 Peace Links speaker training manual, 1983-1984
Folder 7 Peace Links information on Soviet women undated
Folder 8 Peace Links state outreach, 1985
Folder 9 Women's Peace Network correspondence and miscellaneous files, 1983-1986
Folder 10 Women's Peace Network correspondence and miscellaneous files, 1983-1986
Folder 11 Journal and articles on nuclear war, 1980s
Folder 11 Newspaper clippings on international security, 1987

Series VII. National Women's Conference Center (NWCC) Conferences 1977-1990

Scope and Content Notes:

The 1977 NWCC Conference established a "National Plan of Action" which addressed twenty-six areas where women needed to work for advancements within society. The 1982 conference material was entitled "A New Day" campaign. This campaign sought achievement for women beyond the ERA. Additional files concentrate on coalition building between feminist organizations and ERA groups. The 1987 NWCC Conference material focus on the theme "Decade for Change," which evaluated the progress of women's issues for the twenty-six areas identified during the 1977 conference. The National Women's Conference Center Conferences series includes material from 1977 to 1990 and is arranged chronologically.


Box 5
Folder 1 Conference materials, 1977,1980
Folder 2 Conference materials, 1977, 1980
Folder 3 Conference materials and ERA rally, 1982
Folder 4 Conference materials and ERA rally, 1982
Folder 5 Coalition building, 1982
Folder 6 Conference materials, 1983
Folder 7 Women in Media Conference, 1984
Folder 8 Conference materials, 1984
Folder 9 Communications conference, 1986
Folder 10 "Decade of Achievement" preliminary drafts, 1987
Folder 11 "Decade of Achievement" preliminary drafts, 1987
Folder 12 "Decade of Achievement" preliminary drafts, 1987
Folder 13 "Decade of Achievement" preliminary drafts, 1987
Folder 14 Conference materials, 1987
Folder 15 Conference materials, 1987
Folder 16 Board minutes, 1988
Folder 17 "Decade of Achievement" publication materials, 1988
Folder 18 "Decade of Achievement" publication materials, 1988
Folder 19 "Decade of Achievement" publication materials, 1988
Folder 20 Conference miscellaneous, 1989-1990

Series VIII. National Women's Conference center (NWCC) 1987 Conference Preparation 1977-1988

Scope and Content Notes:

The materials found in this series were collected by Downie as she worked as part of a team to evaluate the progress of numerous women's issues since 1977. The files are primarily from 1987 to 1988 and contain publications and other resources used to create summaries of progress. These resources vary in topic from women in business, politics, ERA, abuse awareness, and child care. There are also several administrative files related to conducting the survey and conference. The National Women's Conference Center 1987 Conference Preparation series dates from 1977 to 1988 and is arranged alphabetically by topic.


Box 6
Folder 1 Arts and women, 1987
Folder 2 Battered women, 1987
Folder 3 Business/credit, 1987
Folder 4 Child care, 1987
Folder 5 Disabled women, 1980-1987
Folder 6 Election and appointment of women to office, 1987-1988
Folder 7 Election and appointment of women to office, 1987-1988
Folder 8 Employment 1977-1988
Folder 9 Employment 1977-1988
Folder 10 Employment 1977-1988
Folder 11 ERA, 1981-1987
Folder 12 Education, 1979-1987
Folder 13 Education, 1979-1987
Folder 14 Health, 1987-1988

Box 7
Folder 1 Homemakers, 1987
Folder 2 Insurance, 1985-11987
Folder 3 Media, 1978-1988
Folder 4 Media, 1978-1988
Folder 5 Minority women, 1985-1988
Folder 6 Offenders and older women, 1987
Folder 7 Poverty and welfare, 1986-1988
Folder 8 Rural women, 1987
Folder 9 Sexual assault and sexual preference, 1987
Folder 10 Reproductive rights and health 1984-1987
Folder 11 "Decade of Achievement" Survey, 1987
Folder 12 "Decade of Achievement" Survey, 1987
Folder 13 New plans of action, 1984-1988
Folder 14 Address lists, undated
Folder 15 Early intervention resources guide, 1987

Series IX. 1985 Nairobi Conference 1984-1985

Scope and Content Notes:

The material in this series is entirely related to the Nairobi Conference and Downie's role in the Women's International News Service. The files consist of articles, newsletters, conference materials, and pamphlets used to prepare for the conference as well as those distributed at the conference. It also contains administrative and financial records that date from 1984 to 1985 and pertain to planning the conference. The 1985 Nairobi Conference focused on peace and highlighted ten years of action in the women's movement since 1975. This series is arranged alphabetically by document form.


Box 8
Folder 1 Address lists, 1984-1985
Folder 2 Conference packet, 1985
Folder 3 Correspondence, 1985
Folder 4 Correspondence, 1985
Folder 5 Forms and travel information, 1985
Folder 6 Handout and mailings, 1985
Folder 7 Miscellaneous materials, 1984-1985
Folder 8 Newspaper clippings, 1985
Folder 9 Photographs, 1985
Folder 10 Pre-planning documents, 1984-1985
Folder 11 Pre-planning documents, 1984-1985
Folder 12 Registration and releases, 1985
Folder 13 Reports from conference, 1985
Folder 14 Reports from conference, 1985
Folder 15 Reports from conference, 1985
Folder 16 Survey responses for Nairobi news team, 1985
Folder 17 Women's Decade fund and news team project, 1985
Folder 18 Conference publications, 1985
Folder 19 Conference publications, 1985

Box 9
Folder 1 Nairobi conference publications, 1985
Folder 2 Nairobi conference publications, 1985

Series X. National Women's Studies Association (NSWA) 1974-1988

Scope and Content Notes:

This series documents the annual conference held by the NWSA from 1970 to 1981. There are some additional miscellaneous materials from the mid-1980s. Additionally, this series contains a few research files on sexism and racism in the classroom. There is also material from 1985 Nairobi Conference. The National Women's Studies Association series includes material from 1974 to 1988 and is arranged alphabetically by topic.

Folder 3 NWSA Conference materials, 1979-1981
Folder 4 NWSA Conference materials, 1979-1981
Folder 5 NWSA Conference materials, 1979-1981
Folder 6 Miscellaneous materials, 1982-1988
Folder 7 Racism and sexism taskforce, 1974-1980
Folder 8 Racism and sexism taskforce, 1974-1980

Series XI. Miscellaneous Correspondence 1970s-1988

Scope and Content Notes:

The miscellaneous correspondence series covers a variety of feminist issues that was addressed directly by Downie from 1972 to 1987. The majority of these files probably relate to her role in the Pittsburgh Feminist Network, but since it is not definite, these materials have been arranged separately. When possible, the correspondence has been arranged by topic.

Folder 9 Abortion rights, 1980-1984
Folder 10 Employment, 1972-1985
Folder 11 International affairs, 1983, 1987
Folder 12 KNOW, 1979-1982
Folder 13 Politics, 1982-1988
Folder 14 Sexist violence and pornography, 1980-1987
Folder 15 Sexuality, 1979-1985
Folder 16 Miscellaneous topics, 1970s-1980s
Folder 17 Miscellaneous topics, 1970s-1980s
Folder 18 Miscellaneous topics, 1970s-1980s