Skip to main content

Ronnie Gilbert papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00536

Scope and Contents

The Ronnie Gilbert Papers consist of awards and citations for Gilbert's work as a singer and as a peace and social justice activist; drafts of numerous muscial scores; and publications and clippings concerning her career as a performer and her work as narrator for the film by Ken Burns, Not For Ourselves Alone. The collection contains correspondence, printed materials, research, writings, and memorabilia. Scripts and writings from the 1990s and 2000s include plays and a book manuscript about labor activist Mother Jones. Also included are some personal materials, as well as extensive audiovisual materials documenting concerts, albums, and interviews with Ronnie Gilbert and others.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1951 - 2015


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owned copyright, until her death, Gilbert retained copyright to the materials donated to Smith College; upon her death copyright has now passed to her daughter Lisa Weg. After Weg's death, copyright in these works will transfer 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 Gilbert, 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.

Biographical Note

The singer, playwrite, psychotherapist, narrator of numerous documentary films, feminist, and global peace worker Ronnie Gilbert was born on September 7, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Sarah Bekerman, a dressmaker, and Charles Gilbert, a factory worker and (later) owner in the needle trades. She had one sister, born in 1928. Gilbert worked in a U.S. government office as a clerk-typist during World War II. She began singing on radio shows at age twelve, and was a founding member of the folk group, The Weavers (1947). Gilbert was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era, along with the rest of the Weavers, due to her political beliefs, putting her performing career in temporary abeyance. She earned a M.S. degree in clinical psychology from Lone Mountain College in 1974, and practiced psychotherapy for eight years afterwards. Gilbert's career in the performing arts spanned over fifty years and included acting, singing, recording, teaching, and play-writing. In addition to her work with The Weavers, she recorded albums and performed with Holly Near and Adrienne Torf and narrated numerous documentary films. Gilbert was active in feminist and global peace work, and frequently lectured and gave workshops. She took a strong role in the work of the Women In Black organization, challenging U.S. policy in the Middle East and around the world.

Gilbert was married to Martin Weg in 1950, and had one daughter, Lisa Weg (born 1952). The couple divorced in 1959. Gilbert met Donna Korones during a 1984 tour with HARP (an acronym for Holly, Arlo, Ronnie, and Pete), and came out as a lesbian after the two started dating. They were legally married in 2004 in San Francisco, and lived together in California for much of their relationship. Ronnie Gilbert died on June 6, 2015, of natural causes.


14.813 linear feet (18 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection contains the personal and professional papers of Ronnie Gilbert, singer, playwright, psychotherapist, narrator of numerous documentary films, feminist, and global peace worker. Also includes extensive audiovisual materials documenting concerts, albums, and interviews with Ronnie Gilbert and others.


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.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were donated by Ronnie Gilbert in 2006, by Lisa Weg in 2011, and by Donna Korones in 2018.

Related Materials

Voices of Feminism Oral History Project and the Dee Mosbacher papers and Woman Vision records.

Processing Information

This collection has not been processed, in the sense that archival arrangement and description beyond creating minimal box lists has not been done. The arrangement and description of materials may change in the future as iterative processing occurs. Researchers are encouraged to document their citations with this in mind.

Some post-it notes are included on folders or documents in the 2019-S-0002 accession; a majority of these were written by Donna Korones to provide context to these items prior to their donation.

Processing Information

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. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.



Finding aid to the Ronnie Gilbert papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Madison White
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018-10-12: Updated to conform to DACS
  • 2019-03-04: Updated to reflect additional materials
  • 2019-04-29: Added accession 06S-71.
  • 2019-05-20: Digital content added fro 2019-S-0071
  • 2021-06-22: Added content lists from accession inventories

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063