Ms. Magazine records
Scope and Contents
The bulk of the collection is office files, editorial (including numerous manuscripts), publicity, promotion, circulation, and advertising. The editorial files were sampled. Also included are by Ms. staff, so it is not a complete documentation of the editorial work of the magazine. The collection also includes files on special projects (e.g. Stories for Children); files for Women's Action Alliance and Ms. Foundation for Women; individual editors' correspondence and other professional papers, including those of Gloria Steinem, Pat Carbine, and Letty Pogrebin. There are also research files, printed materials, audiovisual materials, photographs, and artwork.
Dates of Materials
- 1907 - 1996
- Majority of material found within 1965 - 1996
- Ms. Magazine (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Despite the founding team’s doubts and overt skepticism from other -- largely male -- voices in the journalism business, Ms.’s debut as an insert in New York magazine showed tremendous potential, selling 300,000 copies in under one week. Ms. created a name for itself by addressing heavy-hitting issues like abortion and domestic violence which impacted many women’s lives but were often overlooked or stigmatized in popular culture. Ms.’s first issue famously contained a list of women, including Gloria Steinem, Anaïs Nin, and Billie Jean King, who admitted to having abortions before they were federally legalized through Roe v. Wade.
In the years following its birth, Ms. became a leading voice in the second-wave feminist movement. It continued to function as a source of groundbreaking journalism but also hosted events, published books, and acted as an “information clearinghouse” to help create nationwide feminist networks. The creators of Ms. sought to create a product which would be accessible for both nascent feminists and longtime supporters of the women’s movement. They also wanted to use their medium to critique the long-standing tradition of sexism in advertising. Advertisers for Ms. were carefully hand-picked by the staff, and the magazine published a weekly “No Comment” section which called out misogynistic advertising seen by readers.
While Ms. enjoyed unprecedented success as a nationwide feminist magazine, it also inspired a great deal of controversy. The magazine faced constant criticism both from the right for being too radical and from radical feminists for being too conservative. This criticism sometimes evolved from negative public feedback into active disputes, including legal action intended to censor Ms. and the Redstockings’ infamous claim that Gloria Steinem was secretly affiliated with the CIA. Ms. also drew internal critique for its focus on white womanhood: author Alice Walker left the magazine in 1986 after twelve years as a contributor, citing one too many covers featuring exclusively white women and a sense of tokenization amidst the majority-white staff.
While both controversial and flawed, Ms. changed the face of journalism and played a major role in bringing feminism into popular consciousness. In 1987, the Australian production company Fairfax bought Ms., concluding the first stage of its life. It has since been passed between several different publishers and continues to operate today through Liberty Media for Women, a company owned by the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Works Cited Abigail Pogrebin, “How Do You Spell Ms.,” New York Magazine, Oct. 28 2011
200.523 linear feet (370 containers)
Language of Materials
- Administrative records
- Special projects and events
- Responses to Ms.
- Research and subject files
- Era of transition to Fairfax Publishing
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
This content was received from the donor in digital form and is not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email email@example.com to request access to this digital content. Note that Special Collections may not be able to provide the required software to read all files.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
In 2020, Madeleine Michels, a student worker at Smith College Special Collections, took all the word inventories Goodwin and her students had written and imported them as a finding aid. She arranged the 51 series as sub-series to create a clearer structure. In 2021 when this work was complete, Madison White, the processing archivist, took overthe collection. She removed restricted personnell files, arranged and described later additions to the collection, and corrected errors in the description.
- Alice Walker
- Business records
- Edgar, Joanne
- Farrell, Amy
- Feminism -- Periodicals
- Feminists -- United States
- Man-woman relationships -- United States -- 20th century
- Minors -- Civil rights -- United States -- 20th century
- Motion pictures
- Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication
- Ms. Magazine
- Pogrebin, Letty Cottin
- Publishers and publishing
- Publishers and publishing
- Sex discrimination against women
- Smeal, Eleanor
- Steinem, Gloria
- Thom, Mary
- Women -- Economic conditions -- United States -- 20th century
- Women -- Employment -- United States
- Women -- Health and hygiene
- Women -- Legal status -- United States -- 20th century
- Women -- Political activity -- 20th century
- Women authors, American -- 20th century
- Women editors -- United States
- Women in advertising -- United States -- 20th century
- Women in mass media -- United States
- Women in the professions
- Women journalists -- United States
- Women's periodicals, American
- Women's rights -- United States -- 20th century
- Works of art
- Young women -- United States -- 20th century
- magazines (periodicals)
- press releases
- Finding aid to the Ms. Magazine records
- Enhanced Finding Aid (Completed)
- Madison White and Madeleine Michels
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English.
- 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2018-10-26: Updated to conform to DACS
- 2021-01-15: Updated after processing
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063