Guide to the Gerald Blum Papers, 1971-2003 AIS.2005.14

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections
Gerald Blum Papers
Blum, Gerald
Collection Number
6.25 linear feet (4 boxes)
The papers of Gerald Blum document the activities of the National Organization for Women (NOW) at the national, state, and local levels. Materials reflect Blum's involvement with South Hills NOW and Pennsylvania NOW and include newsletters, meeting minutes and notes, treasurer's reports, feminist publications and brochures, VHS tapes, audiocassettes, audiotapes, and newspaper clippings.

Preferred Citation

Gerald Blum Papers, 1971-2003, AIS.2005.14, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Gerald (Jerry) Blum has been an active member of NOW for nearly three decades, beginning his involvement in the Pittsburgh area and eventually serving as Pennsylvania NOW's state treasurer. Blum, a physicist, moved to Pittsburgh to work as a nuclear engineer for Bettis Laboratory in 1973. Shortly after the move, he became interested in NOW through the feminist publication MS. Magazine and joined South Hills NOW in 1974. Blum was especially interested in the role of male feminists; despite the public perception of feminism as just a women's issue, 30% of attendees at the first National NOW Conference were male, and men have been involved in many ways throughout the history of the movement.

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Scope and Content Notes

The collection covers the activities and goals the National Organization for Women (NOW) mainly in the Pittsburgh area, but also in the state of Pennsylvania and at the national level. NOW was established in 1966 to advocate equality for all women and quickly grew into a network of chapters. There have been a number of NOW chapters in the Pittsburgh area, including North Hills NOW, South Hills NOW, First Pittsburgh NOW, and Squirrel Hill NOW, among others. These groups published a Pittsburgh Area Joint NOW Newsletter in the 1980s and kept each other informed of local problems, but also worked independently in their neighborhoods. Although the collection contains some material from all area chapters, most relates to the South Hills branch, where Blum was most heavily involved, and to Pennsylvania NOW, where he served as treasurer. Blum's work with the NOW Political Action Committee, which tracked legislation pertinent to women, is also documented. Blum collected documents - including audiovisual materials - on many subjects relevant to the fight for equality, such as racism, reproductive rights, and women in the workforce. Additional scope and content notes providing further detail can be found at the series level.

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The collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • Series I. South Hills NOW
  • Series II. Pennsylvania NOW
  • Series III. National NOW
  • Series IV. Subject Files
  • Series V. Audiovisual Materials
Additional scope notes are found at the series level.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, March 2006

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us:

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.


Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Gerald Blum on November 14, 2005.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Carrie Smith and Jessica Mirasol in March 2006.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Carrie Smith in April 2006. Information about the collection title and the controlled access terms was extracted from the MARC record in the University of Pittsburgh catalog Voyager ID number: 4641081.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • National Organization for Women.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Blum, Gerald
  • Judd Hill, Cindy
  • Smeal, Eleanor


  • Equal rights amendments -- United States
  • Feminism -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Gay rights -- United States
  • Human reproduction -- Law and legislation -- United States
  • Men's studies -- United States
  • Personal papers
  • Pro-choice movement
  • Pro-choice movement -- United States
  • Racism -- United States
  • Sex discrimination against women -- United States
  • Social action
  • Women
  • Women's rights -- United States

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Previous Citation

Gerald Blum Papers, 1971-2003, AIS.2005.14, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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Collection Inventory

Series  I. South Hills NOW 

Scope and Content Notes

One of several chapters in the Pittsburgh area, South Hills NOW worked to improve the treatment and status of women locally and nationwide. In the 1970s, the group concentrated on the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in all states, encouraging its members to participate in rallies and letter writing campaigns. The proposed 28th amendment would make equality between men and women a part of the U.S. Constitution, but is still in contention as of 2006. The issue of reproductive rights was important throughout the group's existence and members opposed attempts by the government and pro-life organizations to restrict health coverage for abortion, close clinics, or limit access to information about reproductive health and abortion options. Other prominent concerns included gay and lesbian rights, sexual harassment, racism, and insurance policies favoring men. South Hills NOW assisted Ellie Smeal with her campaign for the NOW presidency and occasionally published educational materials for national distribution, including one of the first ERA brochures and a pro-life pamphlet entitled Pro-Life, Pro-People.

One of the group's significant achievements was the South Hills NOW Day Nursery School, which began in 1972 with the goal of "providing a full-day developmental program while eliminating sexual stereotypes in early education." The program emphasized individualized learning: each child was encouraged to reach his or her potential, rather than conform to a set of standards or guidelines. The school was open year-round, with a camp for the summer months and operated out of the United Methodist Church of Castle Shannon. Initially a success, the nursery was eventually dissolved due to low enrollment.

Documents in the series include meeting minutes and notes, treasurer's reports, and chapter mailings.

Chapter Letterheads 11
Nursery School 2
NOW Member Lists 3-5
South Hills NOW 1970-2003 6-28

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Series  II. Pennsylvania NOW 

Scope and Content Notes

Pennsylvania NOW was formed in 1971 as a means of coordinating activity among the many localized chapters across the state. The group's first major undertaking was the ratification of ERA in the state - a goal it helped achieve in 1972. Pennsylvania NOW held state conventions and communicated with chapter leaders about issues and events. Documents in the series include Blum's treasurer's reports, leadership mailings, convention programs and packets, and correspondence.

Pa. NOW Resource Manuals 30
Pa. NOW, 1973-1987 31-39
Pa. NOW, 1989-2003 21-18

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Series  III. National NOW 

Scope and Content Notes

At the national level, NOW was responsible for structuring and overseeing the organization as a whole, as well as choosing and coordinating the major campaigns that the state and local chapters would pursue. This series includes materials from NOW National Conventions, National Board Meeting minutes and reports, budget information, and guidelines for managing state and local chapter activities.

NOW Administrative Policy Manual 31
NOW Issues Policy Manual, pages 1-235 2
NOW Issues Policy Manual, pages 236-463 3
NOW - Undated 4
NOW, 1971-1993 5-16

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Series  IV. Subject Files 

Scope and Content Notes

Blum and the South Hills NOW chapter collected information on a wide variety of feminist issues, ranging from racism to women in the military to physical and mental health. Files in this series typically contain articles and pamphlets about the issue's impact on women generally, its effect on women in Pennsylvania or Pittsburgh, and occasionally Blum's related notes or correspondence. The series also includes some material on effective activism strategies, such as public speaking and volunteerism. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Abortion 17-19
Chapter Development 20
Civil Rights Restoration Act 21
Consumer Guides to Credit, Lawyers, etc 22
Disabilities 23
Education 24-25
Employment in the Workplace 26-27
ERA 41-2
Health, Physical and Mental 3
History 4
Homemakers and Social Security 5
Insurance 6-7
Media and Image 8
M.E.N. 9
Military 10
Nestle Boycott 11
NOW Campus Campaign 12
NOW and Sexism 13
Pornography 14
Pregnancy 15
Racism 16-17
Rape and Violence 18
Reagan Nominees, 1987-1988 19
Religion 20
Reproductive Rights 21
Right to Work 22
Right Wing 23
Sexual Identity 24
Sex Roles and Marriage 25
Silkwood and Nuclear Power as a Feminist Trait 26
Speaking 27
Statistics 28-30

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Series  V. Audiovisual Materials 

Scope and Content Notes

Most of the recordings in this series are of lectures given at feminist events, covering topics such as sex discrimination, rape, and women's health care. Included are all ten lectures for the class "Feminist Perspectives", which was held by the Feminist Institute, individual talks on women's issues from the 1985 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Conference, and coverage of several NOW National Conventions. The series contains VHS tapes, audiocassettes, and ¼ inch reel-to-reel film.

Subseries  1. VHS 

AAOW 105th Anniversary - Pittsburgh, 2000 
Cagney Lacey - Discussions 

Subseries  2. Audiocassettes 

Body Politics, Martha Sykes, Anna Weitz 
The Beginning of a Long and Real Revolution, History of New Feminism, Toni Carabilld, 1972 
Women's Health Care - Sophisticated Back-Alley Butchery, Liz Calderone, Joanne Wolfe 
Workshop on Rape 
ACLU National Biennial Conference: Opening/General Session, R. O'Hare, N. Dorsen, 1985 
ACLU: Organizational Issues Panel 1985 
ACLU: Abortion/Anti-Abortion Rights, Thomas, Hames, Locklear 1985 
ACLU: Women, Porn, and the 1st Amendment, Crawford, Mackinnon, Pilpel 1985 
ACLU: Gay Rights, Waxse, Kegel, Rubenfeld 1985 
ACLU: Women's Rights, Young, Pinzler, Post 1985 
ACLU: Rights of the Disabled, Fiske, Gartner, Pedler 1985 
NOW Conference - Presidential Candidate Forum, Tapes 1 2 1983 
NOW National Convention 1982 
PA NOW's Auto Insurance Sex Discrimination Lawsuit - KDK Radio Broadcast, 1988 
At Risk: Legal Strategies to Protect Rights to Privacy - Achtenberg and Winslow 1990 
NOW Conference - Opening Ceremony/Keynote Address/et al, Part 1 1991 
Feminist Perspectives Classes I-X (19 tapes) 

Subseries  3. 1/4 inch Reel-to-Reel Tape (Audio) 

Workshop on Effective Lobbying 1991 
Feminist Perspectives Classes I - X (3 reels) 

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