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Katherine Triantafillou papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00632

Scope and Contents

The Katherine Triantafillou papers contain biographical information, including school records and early writings; correspondence; photographs; documentation of her campaign for, and tenure as, City of Cambridge (Massachusetts) Councilor; tapes of the Cambridge Community TV show,"Cambridge Inside,"and related documents; audiotapes of the radio show"Closet Space", and related documents; Triantafillou's leading role in implementing the City of Cambridge's anti-domestic violence ordinance and other anti-discrimination legislation; syllabi and course packets from courses Triantafillou taught at several Boston area law schools; documentation of cases litigated by Triantafillou, including violence against homosexuals (Boston Firefighters), adoption by unmarried couples (Cooksey-Love), and employment discrimination against homosexuals (Madsen vs Christian Science Monitor); and her involvement in the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1955 - 2007


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 owns copyright, Katherine Triantafillou has 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 Katherine Triantafillou, 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

Katherine Triantafillou, born September 23, 1950, is an attorney and former elected official in Massachusetts who specialized in lesbian and gay issues. She earned a B.S. from the University of Michigan in 1972, a law degree from Suffolk University in 1975, and a M.A. in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1999. In 1975, Triantafillou opened a general practice out of her apartment on Beacon Hill that included real estate, prenuptial agreements, co-parenting and co-habitation agreements, adoption, guardianship, small business matters, litigation, estate planning, family law, personal injury, criminal law, civil rights, and corporate law. She was the first openly gay person to practice law privately in Massachusetts; she specialized in lesbian and gay issues, and legal advocacy for victims of domestic violence and other disadvantaged citizens. From 1976 to 1980, Triantafillou provided legal counsel to Transition House Massachusetts, a shelter for battered women, helping to incorporate the organization and to obtain its tax-exempt status. In 1977, she designed and supervised the Transition House Legal Advocacy Program, which trained volunteers to give legal assistance to battered women. From 1990 to 1995, Triantafillou was adjunct professor of law at Suffolk University Law School (family law), Northeastern University Law School (sexual orientation and the law), Boston University (paralegal training programs), and the University of Massachusetts. From 1984 to 1990, she was a member of the Governor's State-Wide Anti-Crime Council and the Battered Women's Working Group. Triantafillou served on the city council of Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1994-1999; during her tenure as Councilor, she helped establish a Domestic Violence-Free Zone for the City of Cambridge; increased coordination among city departments in responding to violence against women; assessed services provided to victims of domestic violence; led efforts to maintain rent control; advocated for affordable housing; spurred full implementation of the Domestic Partnership Ordinance; supported the needle exchange program run by Cambridge Cares About AIDS and the City Hospital; led efforts to increase minority hiring in the City and to ensure availability of equal job opportunities to minorities, women, and Cambridge residents; and advocated for increased funding for services to children and to the elderly. Triantafillou wrote the domestic violence legislation known as the Abuse Prevention Act, and is also the author of Do Your Own No-Fault Divorce, Have You Been Beaten By The Man You Live With?, Representing Non-Traditional Families, Legal Rights of Battered Women Handbook, and How To Use the Law. She edited The Massachusetts Police Institute Training Manual on the Abuse Prevention Act, and has trained hundreds of police officers on the legal issues and rights of battered women. Triantafillou's groundbreaking case, Adoption of Tammy, established the right of unmarried couples to jointly adopt in Massachusetts. She is a founder and former co-chair of the National Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association. She lectures frequently in continuing legal education seminars through the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Foundation.


27.667 linear feet (25 containers)

0.00259 Gigabytes

Language of Materials


Greek, Modern (1453-)


Katherine Triantafillou was the first openly gay person to practice law privately in Massachusetts when she opened her doors in 1975. She continues to specialize in lesbian and gay issues, and offers legal council for victims of domestic violence and other disadvantaged citizens. Her papers contain biographical information, correspondence, photographs, AV material, syllabi and course packets from courses she taught at several Boston area law schools, documentation of cases she litigated, and materials documenting her involvement in the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.

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.

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Katharine Triantafillou on 2008-11-03.

Processing Information

The contents of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created.

Finding aid to the Katherine Triantafillou papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Ellice Yasner Amanna
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.
  • 2019-05-13: Updated legacy finding aid, removed restrictions on boxes 1 8 and 20, and published.
  • 2020-03-23: Inventory and description added and finding aid updated to current standards
  • 2020-06-02: Description added for born-digital content.

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063