Question of the Week
The Philadelphia branch of NOW was formed by which two individuals?
Answer: Ernesta Drinker Ballard and Wilma Scott Heide
In 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in Washington, D. C. One year later, Ernesta Drinker Ballard and Wilma Scott Heide, who later became president of NOW, brought together feminist women from the Philadelphia area to take up the goals of the national organization on a more local level. When it was initially founded, the Philadelphia chapter's primary purpose was to fight for the social, legal, and economic equality for women in all areas of life, from home to work.
It supported Equal Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that combated sex discrimination. In addition to many other platforms, the Philadelphia branch sought to end discrimination against women in all branches of the city's government and supported women's medical care, female political candidates, and government-funded child care. Philadelphia NOW continues to operate out of its Chestnut Street offices and continues to support or fight against many of the same issues faced by NOW's original founders more than 40 years ago.
HSP has a small collection of records from the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women (#2054). The collection includes include newsletters of NOW chapters, circulars, publications from the national, Pennsylvania, and chapter offices. Annual files concern subjects such as child care, employment, abortion legislation, and media.
Image: August 26 is officially “Women’s Rights Day” in Philadelphia. In this 1974 photograph, members of Philadelphia NOW receive the official proclamation from the City of Philadelphia.
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.