Phyllis Chesler papers, 1968-2003 118 Linear Feet — 88,500 Items
The papers of psychologist, radical feminist author, and professor Phyllis Chesler span the dates 1968-2001. For the most part, Chesler's original folder titles have been maintained throughout the collection. The collection is divided into the following series: Writings, Custody Speakout Project, Women and Health Organizations ,Personal and Professional Papers, International Committee for Women of the Wall ,On the Issues, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Chesler's Writings are separated into subseries by titles of her published works, and comprise the bulk of the collection. These papers include research files, interviews, and chapter drafts for her books Women and Madness;Women, Money and Power;About Men; With Child; Mothers on Trial; Sacred Bond; and Letters to a Young Feminist. The detailed research files in the Writings Series also contain audiocassettes and selected transcripts of interviews conducted by Chesler in conjunction with her research on women and mental health, women's history, childbirth and pregnancy, child custody and surrogate mothers (particularly the "Baby M" controversy concerning Mary Beth Whitehead and the Stern family), and feminist concerns. The Writings Series includes Chesler's miscellaneous writings and provides insight into her personal and professional life through correspondence, manuscripts, and notes surrounding each work as well as clippings and records documenting her feminist activism. Materials related to Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground can be found in the International Committee for Women of the Wall Series. Chesler's complete writings from 1991 to the present, as well as selected archives of her writings from the 1970s and 1980s are available at her website, The Phyllis Chesler Organization.
The Personal and Professional Papers Series is subdivided into the following subseries:Teaching Material, which provides insight into Chesler's feminist activism and includes student evaluations and selected student papers for classes at the College of Staten Island and CUNY; Publicity Files, which contain reviews of Chesler's work as well as articles by and about her; Juvenilia, which documents Chesler's artistic and intellectual development through high school; People Files,Financial Papers, Correspondence, and Invitations. These latter four subseries document aspects of Chesler's personal and professional relationships and her family life. Among the major correspondents in the People Files Subseries are Carolyn Shaw Bell, Sheila Kaplan, Kate Millett, Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, Adrienne Rich, Donna Shalala, Susan Sontag, and Gloria Steinem. The Custody Speakout Project Series and the Women and Health Organizations Series document Chesler's concern and activism for women's health and custody rights, while the International Committee for Women of the Wall Series documents Chesler's involvement in activism surrounding the right of women to pray at the Kotel with a Torah scroll, as well as her work as co-editor of the anthology Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground. The On The Issues Series contains correspondence, article and column drafts, pre-published and published issue files, financial materials, meeting notes, and other papers related to the publication of On The Issues, a quarterly feminist magazine. Chesler served as an editor-at-large for the magazine, and she correspondedfrequently and worked closely with its publisher and editor-in-chief, Merle Hoffman. The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Series contains Chesler's research and drafts of writings on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also referred to by the acronyms CFS and CFIDS.
Many American feminists are represented in Chesler's personal and professional correspondence in the Writings Series as well as the People Files Subseries of the Personal and Professional Papers Series. The Invitations Subseries in that series documents Chesler's involvement in feminist, environmental, and other political events and protests. The Teaching Materials Subseries and the People Files Subseries contain correspondence, clippings, notes, and other miscellaneous materials related to individuals and institutions with which Chesler was in contact in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of the material in the People Files Subseries documents Chesler's personal and professional concerns following the publication of Women, Money and Power and prior to publication of About Men and With Child, with a particular emphasis on her relationships with other feminist writers and activists.
Chesler's professional literary career is documented in the Correspondence Subseries of the Personal and Professional Papers Series which focuses on Chesler's relationships with publishers, promotion for her books, and royalty statements related to Chesler's books. The Financial Papers Subseries also documents Chesler's business concerns and professional expenses. Further correspondence with publishers can be found in the research files of individual subseries within the Writings Series. The Women and Health Organizations Series,Custody Speakout Project Series, and the Invitations Subseries subseries of the Personal and Professional Papers Series provide information regarding the organizations supported by Chesler.
Chesler's attention to women's custody rights appears in the Writings Series within the Mothers on Trial Subseries. The bulk of Chesler's work on child custody is documented in the Custody Speakout Project Series which contains organizational files including proposals, resource lists, fundraising projects, speaker information and agenda files for the Custody Speakout Project.