A Few Good Women Oral History collection, 1938-2014 (bulk 1969-2000)

PSUA 1

Collection Overview

Title:
A Few Good Women Oral History collection
Dates (Inclusive):
1938-2014, bulk 1969-2014
Dates (Bulk):
1969-2000
Creator:
Franklin, Barbara Hackman
Abstract:
The Honorable Barbara Hackman Franklin graduated from Penn State University and Harvard Business School. Between 1971 and 1973, as a staff assistant to President Nixon, she led the first White House effort to recruit women for high-level government jobs. The collection consists primarily of oral history interview transcripts, original tape recordings of the interviews, and photographs and related papers donated by the interviewees documenting high-ranking women working in the Nixon administration.
Collection Number:
PSUA 1
Size:
7 Linear Feet
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 Note

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. 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 named 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. Tapes and transcripts of the interviews, along with copies of related papers donated by several interviewees have been donated to the Penn State University Archives, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University Libraries.

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Collection Overview

The collection consists primarily of oral history interview transcripts, original tape recordings of the interviews, and photographs and related papers donated by the interviewees. These materials may range from just a resume or curriculum vitae, to copies of newspaper clippings, articles, speeches and other writings to collected reports and other documents from the era. Interviewees include Virginia Allan, Anne L. Armstrong, Catherine May Bedell, Helen Delich Bentley, Charles L. Clapp, Evelyn Cunningham, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Barbara Hackman Franklin, Vera Glaser, Cynthia Holcomb Hall, Rita Hauser, Patricia Reilly Hitt, Jeanne M. Holm, Patricia Hutar, E. Pendleton James, Virginia Knauer, Esther Christian Lawton, Fred Malek, Paula Adams Tennant [published as "Adams"], and Margita E. White.

The Esther Lawton Papers are described in a separate inventory.

Biographical Sketches of the Interviewees

Virginia Allan

Virginia Allan was a native of Michigan and was an educator and businesswoman, whose interest in women's issues developed through her work as President of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, where she initiated the idea of a national network of state commissions on the status of women, based on her experience on Michigan's commission. In 1969, she was named chair of President Nixon's Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities. From that group came the report "A Matter of Simple Justice" and from its recommendations grew the Women's Equality Act of 1971. In 1972, she was named Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, where she served in a variety of roles and was the liaison with non-governmental organizations for the International Women's Year conference in Mexico City in 1975. She also attended world conferences in Copenhagen in 1980 and Nairobi in 1985. In 1983, she helped to inaugurate the United States Committee of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, a non-profit organization created to support projects to promote the political, economic, and social empowerment of women around the world. She also served as Director of the Graduate School of Women's Studies at George Washington University. In 1993, she retired and moved to Florida. She died in Sarasota, August 8, 1999.

The Honorable Anne L. Armstrong

Anne Legendre Armstrong was born in New Orleans and graduated from Vassar College. After work as a journalist, she married Tobin Armstrong, a Texas cattle rancher. In 1966, she became involved in the Texas Republican Party and was elected Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1971. She was the first woman to deliver a keynote address at the Republican National Convention in 1972 and became a Counselor to the President in 1972. There she served on the president's Domestic Council, the Council on Wage and Price Stability, and the Commission on the Organization of Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy. In 1976 President Ford appointed her U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. She served as chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1981 to 1990, and the Secretary of State's Advisory Panel on Overseas Security. She is currently chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., as well as a member of the Texas A and M University Board of Regents. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Reagan in 1987.

The Honorable Catherine May Bedell

Catherine Dean May was born in Yakima, Washington, and graduated from the University of Washington in 1936 with a degree in education. She later studied speech at the University of Southern California and taught English before becoming involved in broadcasting. She was a writer and assistant commentator with the National Broadcasting Co., New York City 1944-1946, and women's editor at station KIT, Yakima, Washington, 1948-1957. She served as a member of the Washington State Legislature from 1952 to 1958; and was later elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican, serving six terms (1959-1971) before losing a bid for reelection in 1970. She married Donald W. Bedell in November 1970. She was appointed by President Richard Nixon to the United States International Trade Commission, and served 1971-1981, and also was appointed Special Consultant to the President on the 50 States Project, 1982. She has been president of her own firm, Bedell Associates and is a resident of Palm Desert, Calif.

The Honorable Helen Delich Bentley

Former U.S. Representative from Maryland (1985-1995), Helen Delich Bentley entered government service in the Nixon administration as Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. Helen Bentley grew up in the Nevada mining town of Ruth and attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Graduating in 1944, she took a position with the United Press, eventually landing in Baltimore as Maritime Editor for the Baltimore Sun. In this position she covered all forms of transportation and its labor relations activities. During this time she also produced local television news programs in Baltimore and Philadelphia dealing with trade and the two ports. In these she did profiles on more than 800 companies in the trade and shipping businesses. After writing some pieces for the Nixon Campaign she was recruited to be Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. She left office in 1975 to become a business consultant and, in 1984 was elected to Congress representing Baltimore and Harford counties, Maryland. She was re-elected four more times and, after 1995, returned to her international trade and business consulting practice.

Charles L. Clapp

Charles Clapp received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. As the winner of one of five American Political Science Awards given nationally to spend nine months in Washington working for members of Congress, Charles Clapp had the experience of working for Peter Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) in the House and John F. Kennedy (D-MA) in the Senate. He then served as a special assistant on the Special Senate Committee to Investigate Political Activities, Lobbying and Campaign Contributions, and later on the staff of Representative Charles Chamberlain (R-MI). He then went to the Brookings Institution where, in 1966, he published the study "The Congressman: His Work as He Sees It." From there he joined the staff of Senator Leverett Saltonstall (R-MA) where he served for five years until the Senator retired. His next position was as Special Assistant to the Secretary (Head) of the Smithsonian Institution. With the election of Richard M. Nixon in 1968, Arthur Burns, counsel to the President at the time, invited him to come on his staff as Special Assistant to the President, where he was responsible for the 17 Presidential task forces developed in the domestic area to provide recommendations for programs. As a member of the Domestic Council staff, he was named co-chair of the first White House Conference on Corrections. After President Nixon's re-election, he was nominated and confirmed by the Senate as a Commissioner of the Interstate Commerce Commission, where he served for eight years. He later became Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary for the Postal Rate Commission for 11 years.

Evelyn Cunningham

Evelyn Cunningham studied journalism at Long Island University and graduated in 1943. She secured a position with the Pittsburgh Courier, then one of America's leading newspapers serving the African-American community across the nation. In her roles as New York City editor, she interviewed Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and many other prominent leaders, and she covered all of the major civil rights events of the1950s and 1960s. She also produced and hosted for five years a popular radio program on WLIB in New York called "At Home with Evelyn Cunningham," which featured interviews with significant figures in the African-American community in New York. Cunningham had campaigned for Nelson Rockefeller and, in 1968, he offered her a position on his staff and she accepted. After two years, as administrative assistant to Jackie Robinson, she moved to the Women's Unit of state government. There, she was responsible for liaison with women's organizations and mounted the first major conference in New York government on women's issues. She was invited to become a member of the Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities in 1969 and later served in several other positions in the White House. She is the founder of The Coalition of 100 Black Women, and is an active supporter and participant in a number of organizations dedicated to the arts in the African-American community.

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Collection Arrangement

The collection is arranged into four series: Oral history interviews; Supporting papers; Photographs; and Oral history tapes.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Restrictions, where applicable, are noted at the series, subseries, or file levels.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], A Few Good Women Oral History Collection, PSUA 1, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University.

Processing Information

Processed by Special Collections staff.

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Controlled Access Headings

Genre(s)

  • Photographic
  • Audio
  • Moving Image

Personal Name(s)

  • Franklin, Barbara Hackman

Subject(s)

  • Women political consultants

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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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