A Few Good Women Oral History collection

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Collection Overview

Title:
A Few Good Women Oral History collection
Dates (Inclusive):
1969-2000
Creator:
Franklin, Barbara Hackman
Collection Number:
1
Size:
5 Linear Feet
Size:
(5 containers)
Location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the  library catalog.
Repository:
Special Collections Library. Pennsylvania State University.
Languages:
English

Biographical / Historical

Barbara Franklin's role in the Nixon White House from 1971 to 1973 is the keystone for advancing women into leadership positions in government. After graduation from Penn State in 1962, she became one of the first women to receive an MBA degree from the Harvard Business School in 1964. With path-breaking experiences in business, she accepted a position as Staff Assistant to President Richard M. Nixon in 1971 with the mission to recruit talented women into leadership positions in the federal government. After great success she was nominated and confirmed as Commissioner and Vice Chairman of the newly established Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1973. After six years of service, she returned to business, founding a consulting firm and becoming a director on a number of corporate boards, a senior fellow of the Wharton School of Business, and director of the Wharton Government and Business Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and at various times as a member of the President's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy Negotiations, as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. In 1992-1993, she served as the 29th Secretary of Commerce in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Returning to the private sector, she served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Barbara Franklin Enterprises, a consulting and investment firm. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, and the Distinguished Alumni award from Penn State.

In 1994, Franklin donated her papers to the Penn State University Archives and agreed to the suggestion of University Archivist Lee Stout that an oral project be developed to record the reminiscences of the women who were recruited and trained for upper-level government positions during the administration of President Richard M. Nixon. This project marked the first systematic effort to open such positions to women. The initiative began with President Nixon's response to a reporter's question in a news conference about two weeks after his inauguration in February, 1969. Vera Glaser asked why there had been only three women among the first 200 appointments. Mr. Nixon was unaware of this but promised to correct the imbalance. The Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities, chaired by Virginia Allan, former president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs had been created in 1968. All of its various recommendations were ultimately adopted by the Nixon Administration, including the creation of a White House office to recruit women into executive positions in the federal government. Barbara Hackman Franklin took that position in 1971, coming from Citibank, where she was an assistant vice president and head of the governmental relations department. A critical step in this process was the requirement that cabinet secretaries and agency heads submit Action Plans to the President, describing how they intended to place, recruit, advance and train women in their departments. One year later, the number of women in posts paying $28,000 and up (GS-16 and above) increased from 36 to 105, many in positions women had never held before. Four years later, in March 1973, there had been more than 1,000 women hired or promoted to middle management positions. Women also became forest rangers, FBI agents and sky marshals. The logjam of promotions for women in the military service was also broken. The former limit of one female colonel per service branch was put aside and women were promoted for the first time to general and admiral. Barriers against women in the foreign service were lifted. Women headed the Federal Maritime Commission, the Tariff Commission, and the Atomic Energy Commission for the first time. Numbers of women appointed to the federal judiciary increased. In 1997, an Interim Advisory Board for the project was formed, chaired by Barbara Hackman Franklin, with the objective of launching a project to collect oral history interviews and related papers from women and men involved with the advancement of women in government. Individuals were identified by the Board to be interviewed and a cooperative relationship with the Penn State University Libraries was established to house the histories for use by future scholars and historians.

Jean Rainey, a retired public relations executive who was active in women's issues during the era of the project, was the project administrator and served as interviewer. Funding for the project was raised from private corporations and individuals interested in supporting the project as well as specific outcomes.

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Scope and Contents

These oral history interviews and related papers are the product of the A Few Good Women: Advancing the cause for Women in Government, 1969-1974 oral history project initiated by the Honorable Barbara Hackman Franklin in 1995. The collection consists primarily of oral history recordings, interview transcripts, project documents, and photographs and related papers donated by the interviewees documenting high-ranking women working in the Nixon administration.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Each individual oral history has specific conditions governing access placed by the interviewee. For information on accessing this collection please contact the Special Collections Research Services Unit at ul-spcolref@lists.psu.edu.

Processing Information

Collection was reviewed and re-processed in Fall 2017. Most original audio recordings (in reel-to-reel format) and all analog copies (in audio cassette format) are no longer available. All known surrogates (CD format) have been gathered, though some of these are no longer functional. A file by file review was completed to get an exact inventory of what's in the collection, and many non-archival materials (e.g. posters and reproductions from past Penn State Special Collections Library exhibits) were removed from the collection.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

Esther Lawton papers (Penn State University, Special Collections Library)

Virginia R. Allan Papers (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Catherine May Bedell Manuscripts (Washington State University)

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Anderson, Stanton D.
  • Armstrong, Anne Legendre
  • Bedell, Catherine May, 1914-2004
  • Bentley, Helen Delich
  • Clapp, Charles L.
  • Cunningham, Evelyn, 1916-2010
  • Davis, Ruth Margaret, 1928-
  • Dole, Elizabeth Hanford
  • Eisenhower, Julie Nixon
  • Franklin, Barbara Hackman
  • Hall, Cynthia Holcomb, 1929-2011
  • Hills, Carla Anderson, 1934-
  • Holm, Jeanne, 1921-2010
  • James, E. Pendleton, 1929-
  • Jones, Jerry H. (Jerry Holton), 1939-
  • Kilberg, Barbara G. (Barbara Greene), 1944-
  • Knauer, Virginia H.
  • Kingsley, Daniel T.
  • Laird, Melvin R.
  • Lawton, Esther C. (Esther Christian)
  • Malek, Fred
  • Murphy, Betty Southard
  • Newman, Constance Berry, 1935-
  • Rose, Susan Porter, 1941-
  • Walker, Charls E. (Charls Edward), 1923-2015
  • White, Margita Eklund, 1937-
  • Whitman, Marina von Neumann

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Collection Inventory

Click associated checkboxes to select items to request. When you have finished, click the Submit Request button.

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