Skip to main content

Southern California Women for Understanding records

 Collection
Identifier: Coll2011-076

Scope and Content

This collection includes administrative records, promotional material, Lesbian Rights Award event records, newsletter editorial records, and survey records from Southern California Women for Understanding (SCWU), 1975-1998, an organization "dedicated to creating an atmosphere of understanding of Lesbian issues." The General Administration Series includes minutes, correspondence, promotional material, manuscripts, and a 1988 survey of 1000 lesbian women conducted by the SCWU research committee. The Newsletter Editorial Material and Photographs Series comprises photographs, editorial copy, clippings, newsletters and other material used in the publication of the SCWU newsletter, including numerous annotated photographs of SCWU members and events.

Dates

  • 1975-1998

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries 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.

Administrative History

Southern California Women for Understanding (SCWU) was founded in 1976 to create "an atmosphere of understanding of Lesbian issues within both the homosexual and heterosexual communities." Betty Berzon, a lesbian board member of the predominantly male Whitman-Radclyffe Foundation, took hold of the idea to form an all woman support group in Southern California. Twenty women attended the first meeting in a private home, and ten decided to start a women's group.

At the first meeting of what was to become SCWU, Myra Riddell was elected chair, and the name "Southern California Women for Whitman-Radclyffe" was adopted. However by July 1977, the group decided to break with Whitman-Radclyffe and form an independent organization of women. SCWU incorporated in August 1978, and the organization began forming chapters a year later. In 1979, SCWU held its first Lesbian Rights Award, and Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were the first honorees. By 1980, the number of members exceeded 500, and an office was opened with a fulltime staff person. In 1984, SCWU established the L. Diane Anderson Trust to support education and research on lesbian issues. Support of community organizations also expanded with the sponsorship of Connexxus Women's Center/Centro de Mujeres.

Described in 1982 as one of the largest lesbian support organizations in the country, SCWU at its peak had over 1100 members who were predominantly professional, educated women. By the late-1980s, the group was experiencing internal conflicts and its membership began to dwindle.

Source:

[Box 1, Folder 4] Southern California Women for Understanding Records, Coll2011-076, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

Extent

2.6 Linear Feet (8 boxes.)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Survey records, meeting minutes, newsletter editorial material, photographs, negatives, correspondence, financial records, event programs, press releases, manuscripts, promotional material, and other material documenting the activities of Southern California Women for Understanding (SCWU), 1975-1998. Founded in 1976, SCWU was an organization of women "dedicated to creating an atmosphere of understanding of Lesbian issues within both the homosexual and heterosexual communities." Notably, this collection includes numerous photographs and textual content used in the publication of the SCWU newsletter, as well as a 1988 survey of 1000 lesbian women.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1. General administration

Series 2. Newsletter editorial material and photographs

Acquisition Information

The 1988 lesbian survey results were donated by Bunny MacCulloch to the International Gay & Lesbian Archives on September 19, 1982. The donor and date of acquisition for the remaining materials is unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, December 2012. Revised with additional description to the photographs, January 2016.

Title
Finding aid to the Southern California Women for Understanding records, 1975-1998
Status
Completed
Author
Loni Shibuyama
Date
(c) 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is inEnglish.
Sponsor
Processing this collection has been funded by generous grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and Wells Fargo.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

Contact:
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771