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National Order of Women Legislators records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00357

Scope and Contents

The National Order of Women Legislators Records is a somewhat fragmented collection of minutes, reports, publications, and other administrative records. The bulk of the collection consists of scrapbooks of clippings, photographs, correspondence, and printed material, about individual legislators and NOWL meetings, mostly dated 1970s and 1980s.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1933 - 1990


Language of Materials


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

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. 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. 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 / Historical

The National Order of Women Legislators was founded in 1938 when woman legislators from more than a dozen states assembled in Washington to establish a national group. The first meeting of the organization was a social one, a tea given by the organizing Connecticut group. This affair, attended by over thirty legislators, was followed by a business meeting at which participants formulated and approved by-laws and a constitution for a national organization. The group also chose an insignia of a small gold owl (prompting the nicknaming of "Owls" to the Order) to be worn only by those elected to state legislatures. The group had a private audience with the president followed by tea at the White House. The National Order of Women Legislators is a non-partisan organization. As outlined in its constitution, the group's members are interested in promoting "a spirit of helpfulness" among women members of state legislatures, acting as a "clearing house for information," and promoting the election of competent women to public office. All women who have ever served in either house of a state legislature are eligible to join.


4.896 linear feet (6 containers)


Legislators' organization. The records include minutes, reports, publications, and other administrative records, as well as scrapbooks about individual legislators and NOWL meetings..


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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the National Order of Women Legislators and its members, 1985-1993.

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.

National Order of Women Legislators records
Finding Aid
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:16-04:00: 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