Virginia Historical Society
Department of Manuscripts and Archives
A Guide to the Betsy Brinson Papers, 1894-1999.
Collection Number Mss1 B7725 b FA2
Virginia Historical Society
P.O. Box 7311
Richmond, Virginia 23221-0311
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Betsy Brinson Papers, 1894-1999 (Mss1 B7725 b FA2), Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va.
Gift of Betsy Brinson, Richmond, Va., June 29, 1999. Accessioned September 26, 2008.
Collection Number: Mss1 B7725 b FA2 Collection Name: Betsy Brinson Papers, 1894-1999. Size: 2000 (ca.) items (6 linear feet). Language: English Abstract: Research and administrative materials compiled by Betsy Brinson while working for the ACLU Southern Women’s Rights Project, the Virginia Women’s Cultural History Project, the Richmond, Va., YWCA, and while writing on women’s history subjects.
Scope and Content Information
This collection is comprised of research and administrative materials compiled by Dr. Brinson in the course of her work for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Southern Women’s Rights Project, the Virginia Women’s Cultural History Project, the Richmond, Va., branch of the YWCA, the Virginia Commonwealth University Women’s Studies Task Force, and while conducting her dissertation research as well as research on a variety of subjects relating to women’s history, including the history of African American women in Richmond, the history of Richmond during the 19th and 20th centuries, labor history in the South, especially in relation to discrimination against women and African Americans, the impact of women on Virginia’s history over four centuries, racism and sexism in American culture, and biographical information on notable Virginia women.
Of additional interest are biographical information on Lucy Randolph Mason and her work with the Young Women’s Christian Association and the National Consumers’ League (Series 3), and a copy of Dr. Brinson’s dissertation, “Helping others to help themselves" : social advocacy and wage-earning women in Richmond, Virginia, 1910-1932 (Series 14).
Dr. Brinson holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (American history) and a Ph.D. from the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities in Cincinnati, Ohio (Women’s studies). In the course of her career she has worked for the ACLU as North Carolina state director (1970-1974), Virginia state director (1974-1977), and program director of the Southern Women’s Rights Project (1977-1981). Her work experience also includes positions as executive director, Southerners for Economic Justice (1981-1982) and community relations director for the Richmond (Va.) Branch of the YWCA (1982-1984). She has served on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University (adjunct faculty, 1982-1998; assistant professor, Medical College of Virginia, Dept. of Family Practice, 1991-1993; assistant professor/program coordinator, Medical College of Virginia, School of Medicine, 1993-1998), the University of Richmond (adjunct faculty, 1982-1984), and Mary Baldwin College (adjunct faculty, 1982-1986). Voluntary positions include membership on Virginia’s Commission on the Status of Women (1982-1984), on the executive board of the Virginia Women’s Cultural History Project (1982-1984), as a member of Virginia Commonwealth University Women’s Studies Task Force (1982-1986), and as executive director of the Central Virginia AIDS Services and Education and the Richmond AIDS Ministry (1990-1991). She has published extensively on women’s history, African American history, and racial and gender discrimination in education and employment.
These materials are grouped into fourteen series as follows: Series 1. African American women’s history; Series 2. ACLU Southern Women’s Rights Project; Series 3. Notable women; Series 4. Quaker history; Series 5. Racism/Sexism in American culture; Series 6. Richmond history; Series 7. Southern history/Southern women’s history; Series 8. The Virginia Women’s Cultural History Project (VWCHP); Series 9. Woman and work; Series 10. Women in Virginia history; Series 11. Women’s issues and concerns; Series 12. Women’s Studies (including the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Women’s Studies Task Force); Series 13.YWCA Richmond branch; and Series 14. Personal materials. Researchers should keep in mind that many of the series overlap subjects, and that those series pertaining to Dr. Brinson’s work for the ACLU and the YWCA also include historical data on those and related institutions.
African American women – Virginia – History.
African Americans – Virginia – History.
Discrimination – Law and legislation – United States.
Quakers – Virginia – History.
Race relations – United States – History.
Richmond (Va.) – History.
Sexism – United States – History.
Southern Women’s Rights Project (American Civil Liberties Union)
Virginia Commonwealth University – Curriculum.
Virginia Women’s Cultural History Project.
Women – Legal status, laws, etc. – United States – History.
Women – Southern States – History.
Women – Virginia – Biography.
Young Women’s Christian Association (Richmond, Va.) – History.
Young Women’s Christian Association (Richmond, Va.) – Officials and employees.
Series 1. African American Women’s History
This series contains background research as well as materials compiled for a course taught at the Open High School, Richmond, Va., in 1979, including the work of some of the participating students. The “Brooks Chronicle” traces a Richmond African American family from the early 19th century, when they were enslaved, until the early 20th. The file on Education also includes information on Hartshorn Memorial College, Richmond. The file on Medical Care includes information on African American female physician Sarah Garland Jones and on the Richmond Community Hospital. The file on Teaching Black Women’s Heritage contains an article by Dr. Brinson by that title, as well as other articles on the difficulties to be overcome teaching African American history.
Folder 1 African American life in 19th century Richmond 2 Biographical sketches and chronology 3 Black Women in History and Culture (Open High School Course, 1979) 4 Black Women Oral History Project Guidelines, Radcliffe College (1977) 5 Brooks Chronicle : the Lives and Times of an African American Family (1989) 6 Education 7 Medical care, medical education, and public health 8 Teaching Black women’sheritage
Series 2. American Civil Liberties Union
This series reflects Dr. Brinson’s work with the ACLU, in particular her term as the first director of the Southern Women’s Rights Project, a regional effort to coordinate advocacy efforts and programs. Also of interest in this section is the file on Mary Ware Dennett, who in 1929 was convicted of sending pornography through the mail. A copy of her pamphlet, The Sex Side of Life, is included, as well as information on her defense, which was coordinated by the ACLU.
Folder 9 Equal Rights Amendment 10 History of the ACLU, 1920s-1960s 11 History of the ACLU, Sources for 12 History of the ACLU, Women’s involvement in 13 Mary Ware Dennett Case (includes copy of The Sex Side of Life) 14 Newsletters, etc. 15 Newspaper articles concerning ACLU Activities 16 Southern Women’s Rights Project correspondence, 1973-1981 17 Southern Women’s Rights Project descriptions 18 Southern Women’s Rights Project programs and conferences, 1979-1980 19 Southern Women’s Rights Project publications and publicity, 1973, 1978-1980 20 Southern Women’s Rights Project writings by B. Brinson, 1978-1979
Series 3. Biographies of Notable Women
These files vary in content from a few photocopied pages to extensive research notes. The files on historic preservationist Isobel Lamont (Stewart) Bryan, feminist and ACLU co-founder Crystal Eastman, author Ellen Glasgow, suffragist Mary Johnston (includes copy of her journal , 1906-1911), educator Brownie Lee Jones (includes transcript of oral history), African American physician Sarah Garland (Boyd) Jones, YWCA official, suffragist and National Consumer’s League officer Lucy Randolph Mason (includes several oral histories with individuals who knew Mason), Virginia state legislator Dorothy McDiarmid (includes oral history), and historian Sheila Rothman (includes interview text) are the most extensive.
Folder 21 Andrews, Marietta Minnigerode (1869-1931), artist 22 Anthony, Susan B. (1820-1906), suffragist 23 Barrett, Janie Porter (1865-1948), African American social welfare leader 24 Beard, Mary Ritter (1876-1958), feminist, historian 25 Bethune, Mary McLeod (1875-1955), educator, civil rights worker 26 Bryan, Isobel Lamont Stewart (1847-1910), historic preservation proponent, philanthropist 27 Clark, Adele (1882-1983), artist, suffragist 28 Crumpler, Rebecca Lee (b. 183), African American physician 29 Davis, Helen Alling (d. 1950), YWCA officer 30 Eastman, Crystal (1881-1928), ACLU co-founder, feminist 31 Glasgow, Ellen (1873-1945), author 32 Hatcher, Orie Latham (1888-1946), English scholar, educator 33 Hawes, Katharine Heath, Virginia Urban League and YWCA officer 34 Houston, Nora (1883-1942), artist 35 Johnston, Mary (1870-1936), author, suffragist 36 Jones, Brownie Lee (b. 1897), educator 37 Jones, Sarah Boyd (1865-1905), African American physician 38 Jones, Sissieretta (1869-1933), African American singer
Folder 39 Kenyon, Dorothy (1888-1972), feminist, civil libertarian 40 Lockwood, Belva (1830-1917), lawyer, advocate for women’s rights 41 Mason, Lucy Randolph (1882-1959), YWCA official, suffragist, National Consumer’s League officer 42 McDiarmid, Dorothy (1912-1994), educator, Virginia state legislator 43 Munford, Mary Cooke Branch (1865-1938), educator, reformer, civil leader 44 Randolph, Mary (1762-1828), author of The Virginia House-Wife 45 Rothman, Sheila, historian 46 Terhune, Mary Virginia Hawes, a.k.a. Marion Harland (1830-1922), author 47 Tompkins, Sally (1833-1916), Civil War nurse 48 Valentine, Lila Meade (1865-1921), suffragist, civic leader, philanthropist 49 Walker, Maggie (1867-1934), African American banker, civic leader 50 Washington, Josephine Turpin (b. 1861), African American educator, feminist 51 They Chose Greatness : Women who shaped America and the World, Michigan Dept. of Education, Office for Sex Equity (1980) 52 Twenty 19th Century Black Women, National Council of Negro Women (1979) 53 Miscellaneous biographies (include Nancy Astor, Sarah Dooley (Mrs. Maj. James Dooley), Laura Anne Hennighausen, Pocahontas, Mary “Molly” Tynes, Ella May Wiggins)
Series 4. Quaker History
These materials provide background information for a history of the Richmond Friends Meeting, of which Dr. Brinson was a member. The Friends Association for Children was an orphanage established in the 19th century by the Richmond Friends Meeting to provide for African American children.
Folder 54 Friends Association for Children, Richmond, Va. 55 General history 56 Issues, trends, etc. 57 Quakers in Virginia, History of 58 Richmond (Va.) Friends Meeting, History of
Series 5. Racism/Sexism in American Culture
One of the most valuable files in this series is the newspaper articles, drawn from both main-stream and special interest publications, citing examples of and efforts to address racism and discrimination in education, employment, health care, and other areas.
Folder 59 African American women’s organizations 60 Ageism 61 Bibliographies of sources 62 Education, Discrimination in 63 Hispanic women, Discrimination against 64 Jews, Discrimination against 65 Native Americans, Discrimination against 66 Newspaper articles 67 Pamphlets, brochures, newsletters 68 Research and notes
Series 6. Richmond (Va.), History of
This series contains general information on Richmond’s historic buildings and neighborhoods, as well as on Richmond society. The file Richmond in the Late 19th Century contains copies of two newspaper series from 1995 describing the city of a hundred years before and in particular the wedding of socialite Irene Langhorne to artist Charles Dana Gibson.
Folder 69 Confederate Ladies’ Home; also United Daughters of the Confederacy 70 First Capitol 71 Richmond in the late 19th century 72 Richmond in the 1920s 73 Shockoe Slip 74 Notes and miscellaneous materials
Series 7. Southern History/Southern Women
While much of this information could be interfiled in other series, it is presented here to reflect a more regional approach to women’s history. Of particular interest are files on the Virginia Bureau of Vocations for Women, begun in the early 20th century as a means to facilitate the entry of women into the workforce, and Lucy Randolph Mason’s writings on labor issues. Additional Lucy Randolph Mason information is contained in Series 3.
Folder 75 Conference on Economic Conditions in the South, Report of, 1938 76 Education, General 77 Education, Southern Woman’s Educational Alliance 78 Education, Virginia Bureau of Vocations for Women 79 Labor history 80 Mason, Lucy Randolph, Writings on labor issues 81 Suffrage 82 Women’s rights
Series 8. Virginia Women’s Cultural History Project
Dr. Brinson served on the Executive Board of the VWCHP from 1982-1984, as a member of the Audio-Visual and Research committees. The Project resulted in an award-winning exhibit, “A Share of Honor,” and a film, “A Common Wealth of Women,” as well as generating statewide interest in women’s history exhibits and programs. These files reflect in part the day-to-day work of the Project members, as well as the development of the exhibit and the film. The exhibition narrative was written by historian Suzanne Lebsock, and her attention to the African American woman’s experience led to some dissent among the VWCHP board. The Publicity file includes newspaper articles about the overall project, as well as announcements, brochures, and information about concurrent exhibits and programs.
Folder 83 Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, etc., 1983 84 Audio-Visual Committee. 1983-1984 85 Board of Directors’ correspondence, 1982-1985 86 Board of Directors’ minutes, 1982-1985 87 Brochures for concurrent events 88 Exhibit, “A Share of Honor” 89 Film, “A Common Wealth of Women” 90 Fundraising 91 Position announcements 92 Programming 93 Publicity 94 Research Committee, 1984 95 Texas Women’s History Project 96 Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Grant, Application and administration 97 Miscellaneous
Series 9. Women and Work
The theme of women in the workforce runs throughout Dr. Brinson’s research and employment history. This series pulls together information from a variety of sources discussing the impact of urbanization on labor in general, and on women in particular.
Folder 98 Background articles 99 Fashion history, 1850-1940 100 Feminist movement 101 Images 102 International Conference on Working Women, Convention, 1919 103 Labor laws 104 National Conference on Women and the Law, 1982 105 National Consumers’ League 106 Pay equity 107 Social history, 19th and 20th Centuries 108 Social history, The 1920s 109 Social history, The Great Depression 110 Southern Council for Women and Children in Industry 111 Telephone industry 112 Tobacco industry 113 Women in the Virginia State Legislature 114 Miscellaneous
Series 10. Women in Virginia History
The bulk of these files are general background information; however, the “Richmond Women in Virginia History” course materials and the “Women of Richmond Self-Guided Tour” project give detailed information about studying Virginia history from the women’s viewpoint.
Folder 115 Background reading and research 116 Civil War and women 117 Education, General 118 Education, Richmond Female Seminary 119 Equal Suffrage League of Virginia 120-121 Medicine (2 folders) 122 There is no folder 122 123 Richmond Women in Virginia History (VCU Course, 1985) 124 Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Virginia Branch 125 Women of Richmond Self-Guided Tour (1991-1992 VFHPP grant application)
Series 11. Women’s Issues (Current)
Following her term as ACLU Southern Women’s Project Director, Dr. Brinson served on the Virginia Commission on the Status of Women from 1982-1986. While by no means complete, these materials reflect some of the ongoing issues facing women in the 20th century. Of particular interest is the file on “Birth Control,” which contains several early pamphlets published by the Birth Control League of New York.
Folder 126 Birth control 127-128 Equal Rights Amendment (2 folders) 129 Peace 130 Politics 131 Report on the Survey of Concerns of Virginia Women (1984) 132 Toward the Future : Final Report of the Virginia Women’s Meeting (1977) 133 Where We Stand : The Virginia Woman in the Seventies (1977)
Series 12. Women’s Studies
This series reflects Dr. Brinson’s interest in various ways to make women’s history more accessible. Included are women’s history program descriptions from academic and government institutions; sources for research on women’s history; newsletters and conference programs from national and state women’s studies associations; minutes, 1982-1986, from the Virginia Commonwealth University Women’s Studies Task Force; information on women historians; and information concerning the establishment of Women’s History Month.
Folder 134 Conference and program descriptions, Examples of 135 National Women’s Studies Association Conference, 1979-1984 136 Newspaper articles, 1981-1984 137 Sources for research 138 VCU Women’s Studies Task Force, 1982-1986 139 Virginia Women’s Studies Association, “Women’s Times,” 1982-1986, 1989 140 Women historians 141 Women’s History Week/Month
Series 13. Young Women’s Christian Association. Richmond, Va., Branch
Dr. Brinson was Director of Community Relations for the Richmond (Va.) Branch of the YWCA from 1982 to 1986 and served as Program Director on the National Board from 1986 through 1987. These materials are a mix of current and historical records, chiefly reflecting the establishment and growth of the Richmond Branch, compiled in preparation for the writing of an updated history. The file on the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the Richmond YWCA includes audio tapes of interviews with women instrumental in the work of that branch.
Folder 142 Early Histories of the YWCA 143 History of the YWCA, Background Materials on 144 Industrial Department, YWCA 145 Sub-Teen Program, YWCA 146 War Work of the American YWCA, 1917-1919 147 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Annual Reports, 1924-1933 148 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Branch History, 1894-1940 149 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Branch History, 1941-1983 150 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Business and Professional Dept. Programs, 1928-1929 151 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Capital Fund Campaign Application and Correspondence, 1959-1961 152 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Locations of facilities 153 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Officers, Lists of 154 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Phyllis Wheatley Branch (African American) 155 YWCA. Richmond (Va.) Branch. Miscellaneous materials 156 Histories of YWCA Branches other than Richmond 157 History of the Greenville (S.C.) Branch, YWCA
Series 14. Personal Materials
Included in this series are materials related to Dr. Brinson’s education and career, as well as her work as a consultant for the Chesterfield County Museum, the Henricus Foundation, the North Carolina Museum of History, and Virginia Church Women United. Also included are materials related to her work with the Central Virginia AIDS Services and Education (CVASE) and Richmond AIDS Ministry, her coordination of Women’s History Month activities at the Hermitage Retirement Community, Richmond, which included a welcome address by former First Lady of Virginia Lynda Johnson Robb; and a sampling of Brinson’s writings on various subject.
The “Appointments and Awards” file contains Dr. Brinson’s appointment to the Virginia Women’s Cultural History Project. The Biographical file includes an audio tape of an oral history, 1999, with Dr. Brinson at the time these papers were donated. The “Central Virginia AIDS Services & Education” file also contains photographs, largely unidentified, of workshops and events promoting AIDS awareness. The materials in the correspondence files are scattered and contain chiefly letters of appreciation and congratulations for various programs or jobs, as well as letters relating to Brinson’s personal research and writing activities. Dr. Brinson’s dissertation, “Helping Others Help Themselves,” relied in part on several oral histories conducted in the early 1980s; audio tapes of those interviews are included. The “Henricus Foundation” files are chiefly copies of historical articles produced by the Foundation. The “Journal and Newspaper Articles” file consists of articles about Dr. Brinson, and include the issue of Ms. Magazine in which she was named as one of “80 Women to Watch in the 80s.”
Folder 158 Appointments and awards, 1981-1996 159 Biographical Information, Oral History, and Photographs 160 Central Virginia AIDS Services & Education [includes the Richmond AIDS Ministry], 1990-1993 (2 folders) 161 Chesterfield County Museum, Chesterfield, Va., Lecture Program, 1986 162-164 Correspondence, 1978-1992 (3 folders) 165-166 “Helping Others Help Themselves : Social Advocacy and Wage-Earning Women in Richmond, Va., 1910-1932 (Ph.D. Dissertation, 1984, Union Graduate School, Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities] (2 folders) 167-168 Henricus Foundation (2 folders) 169 Hermitage/Westminster-Canterbury Women’s History Month, 1989 170 Journal and newspaper articles 171 North Carolina Museum of History Women’s History Exhibit, 1985 172 Richmond (Va.). Commission on Human Relations. Human Relations Awards and Ceremony. Steering Committee, 1982-1983. List of members 173 Virginia Church Women United [grant application, 1983, to the VFHPP for a radio program on women’s issues] 174 Writings