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Saralee Hamilton papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00629

Scope and Contents

The Saralee Hamilton Papers are almost exclusively related to her activism and professional life, 1973 to 2006. Types of materials include brochures, correspondence, fact sheets, minutes, newsclippings, newsletters, notes, photographs, press releases, publications, reports, journal and newspaper articles, transcripts of interviews, and audio and videotapes.

Subjects at the heart of Hamilton's activism are all well documented, including sterilization abuse; reproductive rights advocacy and politics; lesbian and gay liberation; grassroots organizing; international women's rights; rights for women laborers, women and the impact of economic development; war's impact on women; indigenous women; women of color; the intersectionality of race, class, and gender; and religious organizations working on women's issues.

Conference and organization files document Hamilton's commitment to forging connections among women around the world through work with such groups as the international feminist network Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN/MUDAR), the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action (GABRIELA) in the Philippines, Isis International Women's Information and Communication Service, and the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights.

Organization files also document Hamilton's involvement with U.S. national organizations Coalition for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA), extensive files documenting the Reproductive Rights National Network (R2N2).

In addition to national and transnational activism, Hamilton's local work is also documented through organization files for such groups as NARAL Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Reproductive Rights Coalition, and subject files on reproductive rights in Pennsylvania and the women's movement in Philadelphia.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1911-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1972-2006


Language of Materials

English , Spanish

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

Copyright to materials in the Saralee Hamilton Papers is owned by the individuals and organizations that created them. 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

Saralee Mary Lamb Hamilton was born October 28, 1945. She was raised by her mother and grandparents in Glasgow, Pennsylvania. While studying for a B.A. at Dunbarton College of Holy Cross in Washington, DC, she was active in the National Federation of Catholic Students and worked on Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. After a year of graduate work at New York University, Hamilton left for Philadelphia where, in 1968, she and a group of friends founded the Institute for Educational Development. The IED worked to facilitate communication between college students and administrators, and organized summer workshops and anti-Vietnam war activities.

In 1971, Hamilton was among the radical student activists who founded the New American Movement (NAM) to be a successor organization to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1973-74, she worked on NAM's efforts to impeach President Richard M. Nixon.

Hamilton joined the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in 1975 as founding director of its Nationwide Women's Program. NWP was one of AFSC's three "nationwide" programs (the Third World Coalition and Affirmative Action Office being the other two) established in the 1970s to "foster new ways of thinking (and working) across the entire AFSC so that members of oppressed and marginalized groups could participate fully in the life and work of the Service Committee." The "nationwides" were created to "heighten the awareness of organizational staff, and the effectiveness of organizational programming, at all levels."

In the early years of the program, Hamilton became part of the intellectual development of modern feminism, meeting often with the emerging leadership of that movement. According to a history of the Nationwide Women's Program written for the AFSC shortly after Hamilton's death, "Saralee, and most of those who have passed through the NWP as staff or committee members, have shared a bottom-line understanding of the crucial importance of intersectionality--analytically, programmatically, and politically." It was through Hamilton's efforts that various AFSC programs became connected to women's groups around the world, such as MADRE; GABRIELA, in the Philippines; Isis International Women's Information and Communication Service, in South America; and Women Living Under Muslim Laws. She was also involved in the Reproductive Rights National Network (R2N2), and in the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA). Her vision of mutuality introduced AFSC perspectives to women's movements, and brought learnings from those movements to the AFSC. She was also adept at fostering women's involvement in issues from the policy level down to the every day actions that could bring about change. She organized delegations to women's conferences including the U.N. World Conferences on Women in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1985, and in Beijing in 1995.

Saralee Hamilton died at age 61 on December 7, 2006 in Philadelphia, PA, of complications from cancer.


9.063 linear feet (17 containers)


Feminist; Administrator; Reproductive rights advocate. Early records of the Reproductive Rights National Network, and materials documenting international women's rights organizing. Organizations and topics include the Reproductive Rights National Network, the Black Women's Health Project, Women's International Solidarity Affair in the Philippines (WISAP)/GABRIELA, MADRE, Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, sterilization abuse, reproductive rights advocacy and politics, lesbian and gay liberation, grassroots organizing, international women's rights, and rights for women laborers in the U.S. and in developing countries. Central American and Asian women's organizations are especially well- represented.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Saralee Hamilton's colleague at the American Friends Service Committee Maria Pappalardo donated Hamilton's Papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2007 and 2009.

Existence and Location of Copies

Original audiovisual recordings have been transferred to digital format for research use.

Related Materials

Related materials can be found in the Reproductive Rights National Network Records. The newsletter of the AFSC Nationwide Women's Program, Listen Real Loud, is in the SSC's periodicals collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Suri Roth-Katz and Maida Goodwin, 2015

Saralee Hamilton papers
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Suri Roth-Katz and Maida Goodwin.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Processing of the Saralee Hamilton Papers was made possible through the generous support of the Smith College Program for the Study of Women and Gender

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:21-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2023-02-16: Integrated oversize materials into collection

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063