Skip to main content

P. Lough O'Daly papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00444

Scope and Contents

The P. Lough O'Daly Papers are the result of O'Daly's research and volunteer efforts relating to American women in the military. The materials document O'Daly's work over roughly a four-year period (1980-84).

SERIES I. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS includes personal and professional correspondence, resumes and letters of reference. Clippings about O'Daly and her published and unpublished letters to the editor are also located in this series. SERIES II."SURVIVORS: WOMEN IN UNIFORM DURING THE VIETNAM WAR" contains O'Daly's Smith Scholar project. The oral histories completed for this project, excerpts of which are transcribed in the paper, are of particular interest. Ten veterans eloquently delve into the haunting impact of the Vietnam War, recount the challenges of sexism and racism in the military, and reflect on the achievements resulting from their time in the service. Researchers should consult SERIES IV. SUBJECT FILES for other reference material pertaining to this project. The research materials, correspondence, and publications related to her organizational and committee work, including the WVIN East, are contained in SERIES III. ORGANIZATIONS.

Especially valuable materials came from World War II and Vietnam War veterans who deposited primary documents with O'Daly when she was Director of the Women Veterans Information Network (East). Berta Hodnett Goodwin, a veteran of the Women's Army Corps service in New Guinea, shared memorabilia and photographs to be published in the WVIN newsletter. These unique items and images, which are found in the "Women and the Military" subseries of SERIES IV. SUBJECT FILES, document women's experiences and duties in World War II-era South Pacific. O'Daly also received memorabilia and photographs documenting the Red Cross's Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas program operating in Vietnam. The civilian women of the Red Cross acted to increase morale among troops; the photographs and reunion material from this group shed light on the little-noted presence of female American civilians in Vietnam and give images of camp life. They are located in SERIES III. ORGANIZATIONS.

SERIES IV. SUBJECT FILES includes correspondence generated in response to O'Daly's various efforts. She received a number of inquiries from veterans looking for lost friends, information about her research and organizational work, and general assistance. This correspondence can be found under "Women and the Military" in this series. Other material in SERIES IV. SUBJECT FILES consists of newspaper clippings and printed reports. Some of this material may have served as research for the "Survivors: Women in Uniform during the Vietnam War" and the organizations and committees to which she belonged, as they provide background on various veterans' issues. There is also printed material collected by O'Daly pertaining to various women veterans' issues such as legislation, job training and employment, discharge and upgrading, black veterans, military record searches, Agent Orange, support services, and battered and sexually abused women veterans.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1944-1984


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use with the following restrictions on access: 1) Researchers must sign an access agreement prior to use agreeing to preserve the anonymity of the individuals represented in the materials. Please consult with special collections staff at to begin this process. 2) One folder of material containing personal information is closed pending review

Conditions Governing Use

P. Lough O'Daly retains copyright to her Smith Scholar thesis, "Survivors: Women in Uniform During the Vietnam War," including the oral history transcripts. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright to other materials may be owned by third parties or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Patricia Lough O'Daly was born on 18 August 1954. She enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1974 and spent five years in the military as a jet engine mechanic. She left the service in 1980 to enter Smith College under the Ada Comstock program (for non-traditional age students), and she received her B.A with a major in anthropology in 1984. While at Smith, O'Daly undertook a research project about the experiences of women veterans of the Vietnam War. The product, a thesis-length Smith Scholar project entitled "Survivors: Women in Uniform during the Vietnam War," drew upon historical research and oral histories with women veterans to analyze the distinctiveness of their experiences and their alienation from military services and a culture designed for male soldiers. While at Smith, she also began work to raise the visibility of female veterans.

In the politicized context of both the women's movement and efforts among Vietnam veterans to confront the overlooked legacy of post-traumatic stress and Agent Orange, O'Daly's projects dovetailed with other efforts to create support networks and policy advocacy for female veterans. To that end, she established an East Coast branch of the Oakland, California Women Veterans' Information Network (WVIN), which continued a fledgling western Massachusetts effort, Athena. She also served on the Women's Steering Committee of the Vietnam Veterans of America and acted as consultant for women's issues at the Springfield (Massachusetts) Vet Center and on the Massachusetts Special Commission on the Concerns of Vietnam Veterans.

No further biographical information is available at this time.


2.583 linear feet (5 containers)


Veteran. The P. Lough O'Daly Papers are the result of O'Daly's research and volunteer efforts relating to American women in the military. Included are oral histories (recordings and partial transcripts) of 10 women who served in the Vietnam War, conducted by O'Daly between 1982 and 1984, as part of the Smith Scholars Project ("Survivors: Women in Uniform During the Vietnam War"), and research materials related to the project. There are also files related to her organizational and committee work, including the east coast Women Veterans' Information Network (WVIN), and letters, memorabilia and photographs sent by veterans for the WVIN newsletter documenting, among other experiences, Women's Army Corps service in the South Pacific and Red Cross civilian workers in Vietnam.


This collection is organized into five series:

  2. II. "Survivors: Women in Uniform during the Vietnam War" (Smith Scholar thesis and oral history project)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by P. Lough O'Daly, 1984.

Processing Information

Processed by Amanda Izzo, 2005.



P. Lough O'Daly papers
Finding Aid
Amanda Izzo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:13-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063