Summary Information
Title: Jean Witter Papers
Collection Number: AIS.2008.06
Creator: Witter, Jean

Collection Dates: Bulk, 1965-1984
Collection Dates: 1953-2007
Extent: 13.0 linear feet (10 records center boxes, 1 photograph box)

Language: English

Abstract:
This collection documents the activism of Jean Witter, a Pittsburgh lawyer, who was heavily involved with the National Organization for Women (NOW) and an advocate for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. This collection contains correspondence, meeting minutes, promotional material, personal notes and writings, and ephemera related to the women's rights movement.
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:

February 3, 2010
Author:

Finding aid prepared by Ashley Taylor
Biography

Jean Witter was born Jean Peindl on July 23, 1927, and was raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. She earned a degree in crystallography from Duquesne University during World War II, which was rather rare for the time period. She worked as a chemical librarian until she was able to get a research position at the University of Pittsburgh. She married DuWayne Witter and had two sons.

During the 1960s, Witter became interested in the women's rights movement, and became one of the first presidents of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She was interested primarily in the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and was appointed Chairperson for NOW's ERA Committee. In order to strengthen her arguments and credibility, Witter attended law school at Duquesne in the early 1970s. After passing the bar exam, Witter threw herself into promoting the ratification of the ERA. One of her most significant contributions to the campaign was a legal opinion she authored that prompted Congress to extend the deadline for ratification by three years. After the ERA failed to pass, Witter still remained active as a lawyer, mostly by advocating women's issues, particularly in regards to sexual discrimination and equal employment rights.

Witter passed away in 2008, at the age of 80.


Collection Scope and Content Notes

The Jean Witter Papers include correspondence, legislative material relating to the Equal Rights Amendment, meeting minutes and organizational information on the National Organization for Women (specifically the Pittsburgh chapter), promotional material for both the ERA and NOW, personal records, a sampling of articles and notes on general women's issues, Witter's personal writings (both notes and essays), and ephemeral material relating to the women's rights movement. The primary focus of the collection is on Witter's involvement in NOW and the foundations of the Pittsburgh chapter, and her work on the passage of the ERA. The collection also contains several audio cassettes, which include speeches and interviews given by Witter, as well as material relating to the overall movement for equality for women.


Subject Terms

Topics
  • Equal rights amendments -- United States
  • Feminism -- United States
  • Feminists -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States
  • Women's rights -- United States
  • Women's studies -- United States

Corporate Names
  • National Organization for Women. Pennsylvania Chapter.
  • National Organization for Women. Pittsburgh Chapter.
  • National Organization for Women.

Personal Names
  • Evansgardner, JoAnn
  • Heide, Wilma Scott, 1921-1985
  • Judd Hill, Cindy
  • Schlafly, Phyllis
  • Witter, Jean

Locations
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)

Category
  • Personal papers
  • Social action
  • Women

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Raymond and David Witter on August 5, 2008.

Preferred Citation:

Jean Witter Papers, 1953-2007, AIS.2008.06, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Ashley Taylor in January 2010. The material in the collection was weeded heavily, as a large portion of the material originally received by the ASC had little or no relevance to the collection. Material that was removed included a large amount of duplicate material, personal memorabilia, previously published resources such as magazines and congressional proceedings, information on general legal matters not relating to women's liberation, the Equal Rights Amendment, or Jean Witter, information on legal cases arbitrated by Jean Witter that contained personal information on clients and was not applicable to women's issues, a large amount of personal tax forms, and a substantial amount of unrelated mailings.

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. Correspondence, 1953-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

Series I consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence for the years 1953 through 2003. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by subject/correspondent, and chronologically within each subject.


Box 1
Folder 1 Heide, Wilma Scott, 1968-1975
Folder 2 Heide, Wilma Scott, 1976, undated
Folder 3 Kestner-Lang, Carol Anne, 1976-1978
Folder 4 Kestner-Lang, Carol Anne, 1979-1985
Folder 5 Kestner-Lang, Carol Anne, 1986-1999
Folder 6 General, 1953-1997, undated
Folder 7 Women's Issues, 1968-2003, undated

Series II. Equal Rights Amendment, 1966-2007

Scope and Content Notes:

Series II consists of materials relating to the attempts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a cause which Witter was heavily involved in. This series includes promotional material, legislative material, memos, newsletters, correspondence, notes, and reports. The series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Folder 8 Ad-Hoc Committee, 1970-1972
Folder 9 Alabama, 1975-1977
Folder 10 Anti-ERA 1976-1979, undated
Folder 11 Arkansas 1974-1978
Folder 12 "The Best Kept Secret," 1969-1974
Folder 13 Blatt, Genevieve, 1968-1969, undated
Folder 14 Bulletins 1969
Folder 15 Business and Professional Women's Club, 1968-1973
Folder 16 California, 1968-1969
Folder 17 Carswell, 1970
Folder 18 Cartoons, 1970-1977
Folder 19 Civil Rights, 1968-1970
Folder 20 Conformance Project, 1973-1975
Folder 21 Congressional Material, 1969-1971
Folder 22 Congressional Material, 1970-1971
Folder 23 Constitutionality, 1970
Folder 24 Correspondence, undated
Folder 25 ERA Summit, 1996-2002
Folder 26 ERA Workshop, 1978
Folder 27 Essays, 1968-1970
Folder 28 Fact Booklet, undated
Folder 29 Felton, Walter, 1994
Folder 30 Florida, 1977
Folder 31 Human Rights, 1969
Folder 32 Idaho, 1975-1977
Folder 33 Illinois, 1977
Folders 34-35 Indiana, 1976-1978
Folder 36 Kennedy Correspondence, 1970
Folder 37 Ladies Home Journal, 1970

Box 2
Folder 1 Legal Opinions, 1975, undated
Folder 2 Legislator Correspondence, 1968-2000
Folder 3 Letters Seeking Support, 1969-1970
Folder 4 Mississippi, 1976-1977
Folder 5 National Women's Conference, 1977
Folders 6-7 NOW ERA Committee, 1969-1971
Folder 8 NOW ERA Convention, 1968-1969
Folder 9 NOW Legislative Program, 1969
Folder 10 Nevada, 1977
Folder 11 News Clippings, 1968-2007, undated
Folder 12 Newsletters, 1967-1978
Folder 13 Newsletters, 1992-1997, undated
Folder 14 North Carolina, 1975-1977, undated
Folder 15 Notes, 1993-1994, undated
Folder 16 Opinions, 1966-1980
Folder 17 Pennsylvania ERA, 1969-1974
Folder 18 Pennsylvania ERA, 1976-1980, undated
Folder 19 Pennsylvania ERA Ad-Hoc Committee, 1970-1972
Folders 20-21 Pennsylvania ERA Cases, 1971-1975
Folder 22 Pennsylvania ERA Effects, 1973
Folder 23 Pennsylvania Women's Meeting, 1977
Folder 24 Precedents, 1970
Folder 25 Pro-ERA Organizations, undated
Folder 26 Projects, 1968-1969
Folders 27-28 Promotional Material, 1968-1996

Box 3
Folders 1-2 Promotional Material, 1968-1996
Folder 3 Publications, 1977, undated
Folder 4 Ratification Attempts, 1971
Folder 5 Ratification Attempts, 1972
Folder 6 Ratification Attempts, 1972-1973
Folder 7 Research, 1977
Folder 8 Scott, Hugh, 1970
Folder 9 Scrapbook Material, 1967-1970
Folder 10 Senate Hearings Material, 1967-1970
Folders 11-12 Senate Hearings Material, 1970
Folder 13 Senate Hearings Material, 1970-1973
Folder 14 Senate Resolution 61, 1968-1969
Folder 15 Seven Year Provision, 1970-1977
Folder 16 Seven Year Provision, 1977-1978
Folder 17 South Carolina, 1977-1978
Folder 18 South Carolina, 1977-1981
Folder 19 Sponsorship Letters, 1969
Folder 20 States' Rights, undated
Folder 21 Strategies, 1969-1979
Folder 22 Supporting Organizations, 1972
Folder 23 Television/Radio Campaign, 1968-1970
Folder 24 Tennessee, 1975
Folder 25 Testimony, 1970-1972

Box 4
Folder 1 Testimony Against the ERA, 1970
Folder 2 Tibbs, Marjorie, 1969
Folder 3 Utah, 1975-1977
Folder 4 Virginia, 1973-1993
Folder 5 Virginia, 1993-1994
Folder 6 Virginia Military Institute, 1996
Folder 7 Wisconsin, 1970
Folder 8 Woman Activist, 1998-2002
Folder 9 27th Amendment, 1993-1994
Folder 10 103rd Congress, 1992-1995

Series III. National Organization of Women, 1966-1998

Scope and Content Notes:

Series III consists of material relating to the National Organization for Women (NOW), to which Witter belonged. This series contains newsletters, meeting minutes, conference information, promotional material, memos, and news clippings. The series is divided into three subseries. Subseries 1 is Board of Trustees, Subseries 2 is National, and Subseries 3 is Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh Chapters. These three subseries are each arranged alphabetically by subject.

Subseries 1. Board of Trustees, 1969-1971

Folder 11 Atlanta Meeting, 1971
Folder 12 Chicago Meeting, 1970
Folder 13 Denver Meeting, 1971
Folder 14 Houston Meeting, 1971
Folder 15 Milwaukee Meeting, 1971
Folder 16 New Orleans Meeting, 1969
Folder 17 Notes, 1969
Folder 18 Pittsburgh Meeting, 1970
Folder 19 San Francisco Meeting, 1969
Folder 20 Syracuse Meeting, 1970
Folder 21 Washington, DC Meeting, 1969

Subseries 2. National, 1966-1990

Folder 22 Activity, 1966-1969
Folder 23 Activity, 1970-1971
Folder 24 Activity, 1972
Folder 25 Activity, 1973-1975
Folder 26 Activity, 1976-1977
Folder 27 ACTS, 1969-1971
Folder 28 Bell Telephone, 1971
Folder 29 By-Laws, 1969-1971
Folder 30 Chapters, 1966-1969
Folder 31 Colgate-Palmolive, 1968

Box 5
Folder 1 Committee on Administrative Procedures, 1970
Folder 2 Conferences, 1975
Folder 3 Detroit Conference, 1977
Folder 4 Do It Now, 1973-1976
Folder 5 Eastern Regional Conference, 1972
Folder 6 Equal Employment Opportunity, 1969
Folder 7 Federal Communications Commission, 1970-1971
Folder 8 Financial Information, 1967-1968
Folder 9 Foundations, 1978
Folder 10 Forms, 1970
Folder 11 Fundraising, 1971-1976
Folder 12 Group Ruling, 1968
Folder 13 Heide, Wilma Scott, 1970-1973
Folder 14 Legal Defense and Education Fund, 1977
Folder 15 Legal Issues, 1975
Folder 16 Legislation, 1968
Folder 17 Lobbying Information, 1975
Folder 18 Los Angeles Conference, 1971
Folder 19 Members, 1969-1970
Folder 20 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, 1977
Folders 21-22 Miscellaneous, 1969-1977
Folder 23 Newsletters, 1977
Folder 24 Newsletters, 1977-1988
Folder 25 Notes, 1971
Folder 26 October 17th Movement, 1968
Folder 27 Organizational Information, 1966-1969
Folder 28 Press Releases, 1971
Folder 29 Proposed Resolutions, 1975
Folder 30 Publications, 1970-1990

Box 6
Folder 1 Public Schools, 1971
Folder 2 Purpose, 1966
Folder 3 Religion, 1969-1970
Folder 4 Reports, 1970
Folder 5 SMOKE Campaign, 1969
Folder 6 Women and the Law Conference, 1978

Subseries 3. Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh Chapters, 1966-1998

Folder 7 Agenda, 1970-1971
Folder 8 Archives, 1970-1971
Folder 9 Bott, Margaret, 1971
Folder 10 By-Laws, 1970-1971
Folder 11 Committees, 1971
Folder 12 Elections, 1970-1971
Folder 13 Guests, 1970-1971
Folder 14 Leadership Information, 1982
Folder 15 Legislation, 1969
Folder 16 Literature Committee, 1970
Folder 17 Meetings, 1968
Folder 18 Members, 1971
Folder 19 Minutes, 1969-1970
Folder 20 New Chapter Information, 1966-1971
Folder 21 Newsletters, 1969-1971
Folder 22 Newsletters, 1972-1976
Folder 23 Notes, 1971
Folder 24 Organizational Information, 1977-1984
Folder 25 Pennsylvania NOW Times, 1974-1975
Folder 26 Pennsylvania NOW Times, 1976-1978
Folder 27 Pennsylvania NOW Times, 1980-1998
Folder 28 Pennsylvania State Conference, 1976
Folder 29 Programs, 1970-1971
Folder 30 Promotional Material, undated
Folder 31 Public Relations, 1970-1971
Folder 32 Reports, 1968-1971
Folder 33 South Hills Chapter, 1971

Box 7
Folder 1 Speakers, 1970-1971
Folder 2 Sports, 1975
Folder 3 Treasurer, 1970-1971

Series IV. Personal Records, 1970-1992

Scope and Content Notes:

Series IV consists of Witter's personal records. This series includes wills, resumes, and campaign materials. The series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Folder 4 Campaign Materials, 1970-1982
Folder 5 Resumes, 1978, undated
Folder 6 Will and Final Wishes, 1975-1992

Series V. Women's Issues, 1965-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

Series V contains a sampling of information related to women's issues that Witter was interested in but not involved with. The material for this collection was chosen for representation because it was the most common or because it was previously categorized by subject by Witter. This series includes articles, reports, and notes. The series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Folders 7-9 Abortion, 1968-1989
Folders 10-11 Affirmative Action, 1969-1971
Folder 12 Articles, 1968-1969
Folder 13 Black Women's Conference, 1972
Folder 14 Bulletins, 1967-1968
Folder 15 Child Care, 1968-1970
Folder 16 Coalition to Unite Women, 1969
Folder 17 Contract Compliance, 1970
Folder 18 Court Cases, 1969
Folder 19 Custody, undated
Folder 20 Daly, Mary, 1969-1974
Folder 21 Divorce, 1970-1972
Folder 22 Divorce Reform, 1969-1971
Folder 23 Equal Employment, 1971-1989
Folder 24 Fahnestock, Betty, 1969
Folder 25 Fair Labor Standards Act, 1966-1968
Folders 26-27 Family, 1968-1988
Folders 28-29 Federally Employed Women, 1969-1972
Folder 30 Friedan, Betty, 1968-1969
Folder 31 Gardner, Jo-Ann Evans, 1969-1971
Folder 32 Hill, Cynthia Judd, 1970-1993

Box 8
Folders 1-2 Hill, Cynthia Judd 1970-1993
Folder 3 Homemakers, 1973-1974
Folder 4 International Women's Year, 1975-1976
Folder 5 Lobbying, 1971-2003
Folder 6 Maternity Leave, 1968
Folder 7 Medicine, 1968-1969
Folder 8 Menopause, 1970-1976
Folder 9 Men's Liberation, 1970-1971
Folder 10 Mental Health, 1969
Folders 11-12 Miscellaneous, 1971-1999
Folder 13 Music, 1970
Folder 14 Office of Federal Contract Compliance, 1969
Folder 15 Older Women, 1968-1972
Folder 16 Parent Teacher Association, 1969
Folders 17-19 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 1966-1974
Folder 20 Pennsylvanians for Women's Rights, 1969-1971
Folder 21 Pittsburgh Plate Glass, 1969
Folders 22-23 Pittsburgh Press, 1969
Folder 24 Post Office Employment, 1970-1972
Folder 25 Poverty, 1971

Box 9
Folder 1 Standby Tax, 1985
Folders 2-4 Statistics, 1965-1980
Folder 5 Swanton, Mary Ellen, 1970
Folders 6-7 Television and Radio, 1969-1972
Folder 8 University of Pittsburgh, 1971
Folder 9 Women's Equal Rights Commission, undated
Folder 10 Women as Property, undated

Series VI. Writings, 1955-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

Series VI consists of Witter's personal writings, including material on the women's movement, the ERA, and her own personal reflections. This series contains notebooks, essays, and articles. The series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Folder 11 Articles about Witter, 1970-1977
Folder 12 "Courage To Be," 1994
Folder 13 Equal Rights Amendment, 1969-1978, undated
Folder 14 Equal Rights Amendment, "The Best Kept Secret of the 20th Century," 1970, undated
Folder 15 Equal Rights Amendment, "Extending Ratification Time for the ERA," 1978
Folder 16 Equal Rights Amendment, "Fear and Fallacy," undated
Folder 17 Equal Rights Amendment, "Dyer v. Blair," 1976
Folder 18 Equal Rights Amendment, "Fourteenth Amendment Approach," undated
Folder 19 Equal Rights Amendment, "The Privacy Problem," undated
Folder 20 Equal Rights Amendment, "Why a Constitutional Amendment?," undated
Folder 21 General Issues, 1955-1967
Folder 22 Legal Issues, 1972-1982
Folder 23 Miscellaneous Notes, undated
Folder 24 Personal Notebooks, 1964-1970
Folder 25 Personal Notebooks, 1973-1974
Folder 26 Personal Notebooks, 1974-1975
Folder 27 Personal Notebooks, 1975
Folder 28 Personal Notebooks, 1975-1977
Folder 29 Personal Notebooks, 1977

Box 10
Folder 1 Personal Notebooks, 1978-1983
Folder 2 Personal Notebooks, 1983
Folder 3 Personal Notebooks, 1985-1987
Folder 4 Personal Notebooks, 1987
Folder 5 Personal Notebooks, 1987-1993
Folder 6 Personal Notebooks, 1994-2003
Folders 7-8 Personal Notebooks, undated
Folder 9 Poems, 1968-1979
Folder 10 Poems, 1980-1987
Folder 11 Poems, undated
Folder 12 Women's Issues, 1968-1972, undated
Folder 13 Women's Issues, "Oppression in Women," 1970
Folder 14 Women's Issues, "Pittsburgh Press v. PHRC," 1973
Folder 15 Women's Issues, "Protective Labor Laws," undated
Folder 16 Women's Issues, Women's Liberation Sermon, 1971-1972
Folder 17 "Why I Lost the Election," 1970

Series VII. Women's Movement Material, 1971-1992

Scope and Content Notes:

Series VII consists of assorted material relating to the women's rights movement, particularly the passage of the ERA. The majority of this material is propaganda and audio/visual material geared to promote recognition of women's issues. This series includes LPs, posters, buttons, jewelry, audio cassettes, and a VHS videotape. The series is arranged by type of material.

Record 1 "Ballad of the ERA/Farmer," 1977
Record 2 "Liberation NOW", undated
Volume 1 Sexism Board Game, 1971
Volume 2 Equal Rights Amendment Timeline, 1970s

Box 11
Folders 1-3 ERA Buttons, undated
Folder 4 ERA Pendant, undated
Folder 5 ERA YES Button, undated
Folder 6 International Women's Year Badge, 1975
Folder 7 International Women's Year Jewelry, 1975
Folder 8 Lobbying Buttons, undated
Cassette 1 Community Treatment Centers Talk, 1971
Cassette 2 Equal Rights Amendment Broadcast, 1971
Cassette 3 Goldsmith, Judy, on Women's Rights, 1984
Cassette 4 Schlafly, Phyllis, Testimony Against the ERA, 1973
Cassette 5 Sermon on Women's Rights, 1971
Cassette 6 Women and Religion Broadcast, 1971
Videotape 1 "We Won't Go Back!," 1992