Mary Daly papers
Scope and Contents
Abbreviations used by Mary Daly and in this finding aid
- American Academy of Religion
- American Association of University Women
- Amazon Grace
- Boston College
- Beyond God the Father
- National Women's Studies Association
- Spiritual Counterfeits Project
- Women's Equity Action League
- Women's National Abortion Action Coalition
Dates of Materials
- 1928 - 2013
- Daly, Mary (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Mary Daly, a radical feminist philosopher and theologian who referred to herself as a Positively Revolting Hag, was born in Schnectady, New York in 1928, the only child of a homemaker mother and a traveling salesman father. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools. Early in her childhood, Daly had mystical experiences in which she felt the presence of divinity in nature.
She received a BA in English from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY in 1950; an MA from Catholic University of America in 1952; and a Ph.D. in Religion from the School of Sacred Theology, St. Mary's, Notre Dame in 1954. Unable to find a school in America that would allow a woman to obtain a "canonical" Doctorate in Sacred Theology, she went to Fribourg, Switzerland, where the education was state-controlled and could not legally exclude women. There she received a Doctorate in Theology and a Ph.D. in Philosophy as well as a Licentiate in Sacred Theology.
When she returned to the United States in 1966, she took a tenure track position at Boston College. Her first book, The Church and the Second Sex (1968) was influenced by a visit to Rome during Vatican II. The book, called a "searing expose of Christian misogyny, especially in the Catholic Church," critiqued the patriarchal structure of the Catholic Church and its detrimental effect on shaping women's lives and self-image. The book established Daly as a radical feminist theologian and a powerful voice of dissension, and Boston College fired her soon after its publication. However, amidst student protests and public outcry, Daly was reinstated and given tenure.
She went on to teach at Boston College for thirty-three years and published seven more books: Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (1978), Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy (1984), Beyond God the Father (1985), Webster's First New Intergaliactic Wickedary of the English Language (with Jane Caputi; 1987), Outercourse (1992), Quintessence (1998), and Amazon Grace (2006).
Daly regularly toured nationally and internationally, lecturing, speaking and teaching at over three hundred college and universities. In addition to her own work, Daly was connected to many other feminist scholars, theologians, philosophers, and radicals of her day including Adrienne Rich, Diana Davies, Andrea Dworkin, Artemis March, Sonia Johnson, Jane Caputi, Merlin Stone, Janice Raymond, Robin Morgan, Julia Penelope, Gloria Steinem, Roseanne Barr, Pauli Murray, Linda Barufaldi, and Emily Culpepper. Daly retired from Boston College in 1999, although she claimed she was forced to do so. She died in Gardner, Massachusetts in January 2010.
59.53 linear feet (75 containers)
0.0037 Gigabytes (73 digital files)
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Immediate Source of Acquisition
In 2019, a team of processors began to reorganize the collection. The team was made up of Madison White, Scott Biddle, Sylvia Hickman, and two student workers, Sky Karp and Isabel Montesanto. First we removed all student grades and assessments. We put all unfoldered materials into folders and rewrote illegible labels. Folder titles were kept as much as possible, but when titles were inaccurate or missing titles were created.
While refoldering and weeding the collection, we noticed groupings of 5-20 folders on correspondence, writings, Boston College materials, and personal records, which implied that these had once been series within the collection. For example, we found sections of correspondence in alphabetical order (e.g. correspondence G-K), which implied that there had once been a file of correspondence A-Z. We therefore decided to separate the collection into these four series, keeping each series in roughly the order that it arrived to us (i.e. materials that came to the archives in 2009 are before materials from 2010). We assumed that there had been some logic to the groupings, even when it was not clear to us, and therefore we tried to keep groupings of material together. Because of this, there are a number of "miscellaneous" or "general" folders throughout the collection, which contain materials that were located together in a box with no obvious link. Once we separated materials into series, we did not arrange materials any further.
The contents of 10 floppy disks in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; 3 disks could not be copied in-house and have been flagged for future preservation work; 3 disks were blank and were discarded.
- Boston College -- Faculty
- Caputo, Jane
- Catholic Church -- United States
- Catholic women
- Daly, Mary
- Davies, Diana
- Dworkin, Andrea, 1946-2005
- Electronic records
- Feminist spirituality
- Feminist theology -- United States
- Feminists -- Massachusetts
- Financial records
- Galley proofs
- Goddess religion
- Johnson, Sonia
- Legal documents
- Lesbian activists
- Lesbian and queer women
- Lesbian feminism
- Lesbians -- Massachusetts
- Mailing lists
- Medical records
- Morgan, Robin
- Religions -- Study and teaching
- Rich, Adrienne
- Spirituality -- United States -- 20th century
- Stone, Merlin
- Universities and colleges -- Massachusetts
- Women and religion
- Women and religion
- Women authors, American -- 20th century
- Women college teachers
- Women in Christianity
- Women in higher education
- Women in the Catholic Church -- United States
- Women radicals
- Women's rights -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church
- Women's studies -- 20th century
- Finding aid to the Mary Daly papers
- Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
- 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.
- 2018-07-02: Description updated with accurate restriction info, updated to DACS minimum standards; finding aid published.
- 2019-02-27: Added contents list
- 2019-03-22: Added digital files
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063