Molly Yard papers
Scope and Contents
The Molly Yard papers include biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, speeches, testimony, photographs, reports, conference material, and research and subject files. The bulk of the papers date from 1930 to 1992 and focus primarily on Yard's political activism and professional life, though they do contain some personal material and memorabilia. Major topics addressed by Yard's papers include Democratic Party politics in Pennsylvania and the U.S., the student movement of the 1930s and 1940s, the Civil Rights movement, the National Organization for Women, the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, and feminist organizing from the 1960s to the 1990s. The papers also document Yard's family life; her close associations with many other activists and political figures including Eleanor Roosevelt, Joseph Lash, and George McGovern; her crucial role in revitalizing the National Organization of Women in the 1980s; and the extent to which NOW had become, by the 1980s and 1990s, a lobbying organization deeply involved in many areas of the Washington, D.C. political structure. There is extensive documentation of the 1956, 1960, 1968, and 1976 Presidential campaigns; Joseph Sill Clark's campaigns for U.S. Senate (Pennsylvania) in 1956 and 1968; Molly Yard's campaign for seat on the Pennsylvania State Assembly (1964), and to be delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1974 and 1980; and the campaigns of George M. Leader and David L. Lawrence for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1955 and 1957. There are also materials documenting Molly Yard's involvement in the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh and in the civil rights movement there in the 1960s; the political and economic aspects of public education in Pittsburgh; Americans for Democratic Action; and the National Organization for Women, and women's rights in general. Yard's work with the International Student Assembly, the International Student Service, the American Youth Congress, from 1934 to 1945, are also extensively documented. There are also subject files concerning topics of concern to youth during the 1930s and 1940s, including militarism in education, pacifism, student activist groups in Europe, and communism and socialism; there is also information about the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). There is a relatively small amount of biographical information that includes Yard's college essays; a return trip to China in 1938; correspondence; photographs of Yard and others; numerous awards; and audiovisual materials documenting political issues in which Yard held an interest, including political campaign songs, and documentary footage about George McGovern and Richard M. Nixon.
Dates of Materials
- Creation: 1917 - 1993
- Yard, Molly (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open without restrictions beyond the normal terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
To the extent that she owns copyright, Molly Yard retained copyright in her works donated to Smith College. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by Yard, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.
Mary Alexander (Molly) Yard was born to James Yard and Mabelle Merriam Hickox Yard, on July 6, 1912 in Shanghai, China, where her parents had sought temporary refuge from the political conflicts rocking Chengtu, the provincial home of their Methodist Episcopal mission. The third of four daughters, Yard lived with her parents and her sisters, Elizabeth, Priscilla, and Florence in China until the family returned to the U.S. in 1924. A political science major, Yard graduated with honors from Swarthmore College in 1933. For a year after graduation she worked as a social worker at the Friendship Settlement House in Washington, D.C.. She spent the 1934-35 academic year at the School of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1935 she attended the League for Industrial Democracy Summer School in New York City and became deeply involved in the American student movement. From 1935 through 1944 Yard worked as an administrator and program director for various youth and student organizations, including the American Students Union and the American Youth Congress. Through this work she developed close relationships with Eleanor Roosevelt and Joseph Lash. Molly Yard married labor lawyer and fellow Swarthmore graduate, Sylvester Garrett, in 1938 and gave birth to the first of her three children in 1942. She kept her own name and continued her full-time involvement in the workforce and political activism throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. After leaving her position as executive secretary of the Washington Student Service Bureau in 1944, Yard worked in various capacities including executive director for the Citizens Council on City Planning in Philadelphia.She was a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania General Assembly and served as local campaign director for a wide variety of political candidates including Franklin Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and George McGovern. Yard was also director of the Volunteer Information Service for VISTA. She was a Civil Rights organizer and feminist activist. Yard is best known for her work as the president of the National Organization for Women from 1987-1991, during which time she organized the 1989 National March for Women's Lives, one of the largest marches in Washington D.C. history. Although a 1991 stroke forced Yard to retire from NOW, she has continued to engage in feminist activism and served as the chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation's Task Force on Women and Girls in Sports. Molly Yard died on September 21, 2003.
85.343 linear feet (79 containers)
Language of Materials
Mary Alexander (Molly) Yard was a political, civil rights and feminist organizer, best known for her work as the president of the National Organization for Women from 1987-1991, during which time she organized the 1989 National March for Women's Lives, one of the largest marches in Washington D.C. history. Born in 1912 in Shanghai, China, where her parents had sought temporary refuge from the political conflicts rocking Chengtu, the provincial home of their Methodist Episcopl mission. She lived in China until the family returned to the U.S. in 1924. Yard graduated with honors from Swarthmore College in 1933.. In the summer of 1935 she attended the League for Industrial Democracy Summer School in New York City and became involved in the American student movement. Through this work she developed close relationships with Eleanor Roosevelt and Joseph Lash. Yard married labor lawyer and fellow Swarthmore graduate, Sylvester Garrett. She kept her own name and continued her full-time involvement in workforce and political activism throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Yard was a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania General Assembly and served as local campaign director for a wide variety of political candidates including Franklin Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and George McGovern. She also served as director of the Volunteer Information Service for VISTA. Although a 1991 stroke forced Yard to retire from NOW, she has continued to engage in feminist activism and served as the chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation's Task Force on Women and Girls in Sports. Molly Yard died on September 21, 2003.
This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Molly Yard's son, James Y. Garrett.
Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2007-S-0012, Boxes 1-9 renumbered as Boxes 68-76
- Yard, Molly (Person)
- Garrett, Sylvester (Person)
- Lash, Joseph (Person)
- Democratic Party (U.S.)--20th century (Organization)
- National Organization for Women (Organization)
- American Student Union (Organization)
- McGovern, George S. (George Stanley), 1922- --Correspondence (Person)
- National Organization for Women (Organization)
- Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 (Person)
- Volunteers in Service to America (Organization)
Genre / Form
- Business cards
- Financial records
- Legal files
- Mailing lists
- Oral histories
- Phonograph records
- Abortion -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Civil rights movements -- United States -- 20th century
- Equal rights amendments -- United States
- Feminists -- United States
- Missionaries -- China
- Politics and government
- Pro-choice movement -- United States
- Sex discrimination against women
- Swarthmore College -- Students
- Women's liberation
- Molly Yard papers
- Minimum Finding Aid (Completed)
- Ellice Amanna
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2020-12-07: Added 1 flat file
- 2021-06-17: Legacy container inventory accession 2001-S-0041 added
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063