Memoirs and Bios

CWLU office Text Memoirs & Biographies

Our text memoirs are drawn from a variety of sources. Some are reproduced from previously published material. Some are compiled from interviews. Still others were written especially for this section.

Our Gang of Four: Friendships and Womens Liberation
by Amy Kesselman with Heather Booth, Vivian Rothstein and Naomi Weisstein (1999)-- Very detailed narratives from four women who were among the pioneers of second wave feminism. Highly recommended if you want an inside account of the early days of women's liberation.

As a Feminist, This 'Jane' Was Far From Plain by Chris Lombardi and Ruth Surgal (2002)-- A capsule history of Ruth Surgal's involvement with the abortion rights movement going back to her days in Jane, the CWLU underground abortion service.

The Anti-Rape Movement in Chicago by Helena Aarli (2002)-- Rape crisis centers did not exist until after the women's liberation movement began the anti-rape movement. Former CWLU activist Helena Aarli was one of those anti-rape pioneers.

Heather Booth: Living the Movement Life edited by Gina Caneva from an interview conducted by Becky Kluchin (2002)-- Heather Booth reflects on her lifelong commitment to social justice.

We're Everywhere! by Mary Ann Gilpatrick (2004)-- Mary Ann Gilpatrick reflects on issues of sexuality and gender in the CWLU.

Cleaning Up from Womankind (1972). Mary Blake (not her real name) reflects on her struggle as a City Hall janitress.

On the Origins of the Women's Liberation Movement from a Strictly Personal Perspective by Jo Freeman (1995)-- Jo Freeman's highly personal account of her evolution as an activist in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement and the women's liberation movement.

Why Should Anyone Care About the Chicago Women's Liberation Union? by Sarah Bornstein (2002)-- Former CWLU activist Sara Bornstein places her personal experience into a historical context and reflects on how her CWLU experience has continued to shape her life.

Women as Political Players: Activism in an Era of Globalization by Chris Riddiough (1999)-- A former Co-Chair of the CWLU, Chris Riddiough explains how the CWLU concept of leadership is relevant in today's complex global economy.

Going Through Changes by Joan (1971)-- An anonymous account of how one woman learned to overcome her own internalized stereotypes about women's roles.

The Last Suffragist by Ellen DuBois(1998)-- An autobiographical sketch of a feminist historian and former CWLU member.

Hitchhiking by Jo Freeman (2003)--In 1964, Jo Freeman hitchhiked across America to support the Civil Rights Movement at the Democratic Convention. An excerpt from her new book, At Berkeley in the 60's

How can a little girl like you teach a big class of men? by Naomi Weisstein (1977)-- An incredible story of sexism in science and the monumental arrogance of its male establishment by a research psychologist and former CWLU member.

I Want To Pick Your Brains by Ruth Carol (1972)-- Ruth wrote this when she was battling sex discrimination at Columbia University. She is the mother of Estelle Carol, who is the coordinator of the CWLU Herstory Project and our website designer.

Organizing a Clandestine Abortion Network by Ruth Surgal (2000)-- Ruth Surgal's story of her days in Jane. Very straightforward and unromanticized.

Growing Up Female by an anonymous CWLU member (undated-but probably 1975)-- How one young Chicago working class woman found her way into the women's liberation movement.

Founding and Sustaining a Women's Studies Program by Judith Kegan Gardiner(1999)-- Judith explains the evolution of the UIC women's studies program from its roots in the CWLU affiliated Circle Women's Union. She is currently an English professor at UIC and remains a prominent feminist activist on campus.

Judith Arcana Speaks About Jane and the Politics of Abortion Today by Judith Arcana with contributions from a London audience(1999)-- Judith discusses the evolution of abortion politics since her days in Jane, the underground abortion group.

A Celebration of My Life by Betsy (1972)--A mom with 3 kids joins the feminist movement and learns the true value of her life.

Breaking With Invisibility by Cady (1985)--Cady wrote this very critical article for the 1985 CWLU reunion. In it she explores uncomfortable issues of class and race that the CWLU never resolved.

Something Real: Jane and Me. Memories and Exhortations of a Feminist Ex-Abortionist by Linnea Johnson (undated)--Linnea Johnson places her Jane experience within a detailed analysis of patriarchal capitalism and its impact on women's health.

CWLU Work Groups and Personal Transformation by Sue Davenport (1999)-- The CWLU was actually a loose coalition of many small women's liberation groups. Suzanne Davenport explains how these smaller workgroups profoundly changed women's lives.

"and then I began noticing injustices all over the place....." by an anonymous CWLU member (1973)-- Why one woman from a Southwest Side Chicago Catholic upbringing joined the women's liberation movement at her community college.

Remarks on Naomi Weisstein by Jesse Lemisch and Naomi Weisstein (1997)-- Naomi Weisstein was one of the founding mothers of second wave feminism. She was also the keyboardist in the Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band. Her husband Jesse Lemisch narrates Naomi's life as an activist including her long struggle against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The China Project, the Prison Project and the Issues of Class and Race by Marie "Micki" Leaner (1999)-- Micki Leaner explains the CWLU's work with women prisoners and how she found herself on the first women's liberation trip to the People's Republic of China.

The Chicago Women's Graphics Collective by Estelle Carol (2000)-- The co-founder of the Graphics Collective talks about how this group distributed thousands of classic feminist posters all over the world.

Days of Celebration and Resistance: The Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band, 1970-1973 by Naomi Weisstein (1996)-- Naomi's moving personal story of her experience doing feminist music.

The Magnolia Street Commune by Vivian Rothstein (1998)-- There have been many commune experiments in American history. Former CWLU member Vivian Rothstein tells the tragi-comic story of her commune life in Chicago.

On the Job with Jane by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy (2000)-- As a 20 year old in the middle of a social revolution, Jeanne was looking for a way to connect to the women's movement. She found Jane.

Memoirs of a Feminist Therapist by Joan Berman (1995)-- Professional psychologist and former CWLU member Joan Berman traces how modern therapy has been transformed by the feminist movement.

Notes from Viet Nam Vivian Rothstein (1998)-- Before she helped found the Chicago Women's Liberation Union, Vivian Rothstein traveled to North Viet Nam while the Southeast Asia war was still raging. Here she discusses a return trip to Viet Nam long after peace had been established.

An Interview with Paula Kamen
by Abigail Pickus (2000)-- Paula Kamen wrote the play Jane: Abortion and the Underground about the legendary illegal abortion service.

Close Encounters with the Chicago Women's Liberation Union by Bob Simpson (2000)-- The long time partner of Graphics Collective co-founder Estelle Carol, Bob explains the effect women's liberation and the CWLU had on his life.

by Vivian Rothstein (1998)-- Like Heather Booth, Jo Freeman, Susan Brownmiller and other early women's liberation organizers, Vivian Rothstein participated in the civil rights movement. Here she talks about a reunion with her civil rights friends and associates.

photo by Elaine Wessel

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