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Sara K. Gould papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00737

Scope and Contents

Personal papers, mostly correspondence and some biographical material; small amount re: Ms. Foundation for Women and the Public Foundation Project.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1970 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Gould has assigned the copyright in her works to Smith College; however, 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 instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Gould, 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

Sara Gould was raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 1973 and earned a Master's degree in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University in 1977. Gould's work in economic development ultimately brought her to the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1986, where she spearheaded the Collaborative Fund for Women's Economic Development, a pioneering grant-making initiative that has provided more than $10 million in support of organizations creating jobs for low-income women. Gould's legacy at the Ms. Foundation also includes the Institute for Women's Economic Empowerment, which has provided thousands of grassroots leaders with the skills and resources to help women achieve greater economic independence. She served as the President and CEO of the Foundation from 2004-2010. As the Foundation's president, Gould expanded its grantmaking directed at organizations that created meaningful connections— across issues, movements, constituencies, and geographies— to engage more women and men in working for sustainable change in both public policy and the broader culture. She also established the Katrina Women's Response Fund immediately after the levees broke in New Orleans in 2005, which granted nearly $3 million in Louisiana and Mississippi to organizations that ensured the leadership and enhanced the impact of women of color and low-income women on the recovery and rebuilding process. In 2011-12, Gould was the Atlantic Philanthropies Senior Fellow at the Foundation Center where she advised the Center on its work with global women's funds, led a study of progressive public foundations in the US, and researched and promoted activities to elevate the profile of social justice philanthropy. She also authored Diminishing Dollars: The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on the Field of Social Justice Philanthropy. Gould then served from April, 2012– January 2014 as the associate director of Caring Across Generations, a national campaign (led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Jobs with Justice) to bring about change in the long-term home care system in the US, for the benefit of both people receiving care and the workers who provide it. The campaign advocates for direct care workers, immigrant rights, the affordability of care, and related state policy initiatives. In 2014, Gould was the Activist-in-Residence at Smith College and is now the co-director of the Steinem Initiative, also at Smith College. As a tireless advocate for social justice philanthropy, Gould has served on the boards of the National Immigration Law Center; the Center for Community Change; the Proteus Fund; Women's Funding Network; Women&Philanthropy; and The Challenge Machinery Company, a 137 year-old family business. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with husband Rick Surpin. The couple have a son, Jacob Surpin.


3.48 linear feet (5 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection contains the personal papers of Sara Gould, the President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women and the Public Foundation Project. The collection also contains a small amount of papers on Ms. Foundation.


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.

Other Finding Aids

One or more content listings to individual accessions in this collection are available for download. Links can be found in the description of the individual accessions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted by Sara Gould in 2015 and 2016.

Related Materials

Ms. Foundation for Women Records, Gloria Steinem Papers, Voices of Feminism

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 Sara K. Gould 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.
  • 2018-10-17: Updated to conform to DACS
  • 2021-07-15: Content description added from accession inventories

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063