Bread and roses : documents from the women's liberation movement in Boston, 1968-1971 Edit


MSS 153 large


  • 1968 – 1971 (Creation)


  • .8 Linear Feet (Whole)
    2 boxes (10 file folders)



  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The material is stored offsite in Remote Storage. Please contact Special Collections 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Donation by Barrie Thorne in 1987.

  • Arrangement

    The collection is arranged by topic.

  • Biographical / Historical

    Bread and Roses was a group that emerged from various New Left movement groups--Students for a Democratic Society; the draft resistance movement (we had a women’s caucus in the New England Resistance that formally emerged early in 1969; it because a consciousness-raising group and joined with other groups to form Bread and Roses); activists who had been in civil rights movement groups in the South and moved back North. Thus, Bread and Roses was one of the “younger branch” founding groups of the contemporary women’s movement, as analyzed by Jo Freeman in THE POLITICS OF WOMEN’S LIBERATION. There are two dissertations on Bread and Roses: one by Ann Popkin, written for Brandeis University Sociology Department (she has an article on the group in THEY SHOULD HAVE SERVED THAT CUP OF COFFEE, edited by Dick Cluster), and one by Kris Rosenthal, I think for Harvard University. They were both Bread and Roses members, and some years after the demise of the group (which was in 1971), they interviewed former members, and Ann also did a questionnaire. Maren Lockwood Carden interviewed some Bread & Roses members and observed some of our meetings for THE NEW FEMINIST MOVEMENT (Russell Sage).

    As I recall, Bread and Roses was formally named fall of 1969, but meetings that led up to it were held as early as February 1969 (see early pamphlet). Various newsletters are here, a membership list (by consciousness-raising groups; we laughing said it was like sororities at the time, and some of the groups, e.g. the one which Linda Gordon was a member of--she had high movement status we more prestigeful than others), and many position papers. In retrospect, it seems to me that all the writing; the sharing of ideas and debates about various issues (e.g. about women’s culture; about the politics of racism in relation to women’s liberation; about whether health should be defined as a women’s liberation issue), the valuing of poetry (see the anthology enclosed) was a remarkable feature of the group. Many of the members were graduate students in Boston area universities, perhaps one reason for all the writing (among those who have gone on to become writers and scholars: Linda Gordon, Lillian Robison, Meredith Tax, Jean Tepperman--also a founder of 9 to 5 and an active organizer of secretaries, Priscilla Irons, Diane Balser--still a feminist activist in Boston, Nancy Chodorow, Lise Vogel, Ann Popkin, Wini Breines, Shelley Rosaldo, Kris Rosenthal, Phyllis MacEwen. Bread and Roses overlapped a variety of other groups, e.g. radical teachers (Adria Reich among them, and Phyllis Ewen; they founded the journal, RADICAL TEACHER, with others); the journal, RADICAL AMERICA. OUR BODIES, OURSELVES was the eventual result of one of the task forces, on women and health. There were also many classes taught under the aegis of Bread and Roses, including ones on carpentry, auto mechanics, law, self-defense. The politics of the group were distinctively socialist-feminist (although note that the word “feminist” was not in widespread use at the time). The group folded in 1971--the January 27, 1971 memo from “Some Crumbs and Petals” signaled that demise.

    2. FROM CELL 16 and FEMALE LIBERATION. A radical feminist group (Dana Densmore and Abby Rockefeller were among the members) in Boston at about the same time--formed earlier than Bread & Roses, as I recall. I subscribed to the newsletter (enclosed), which indicates that in 1971 there was a split in that group when Young Socialists Alliance infiltrated it. (Note by donor)

  • Varying Form of Title

    Documents from the women's liberation movement in Boston, 1968-1971.

  • Preferred Citation

    Item, Folder number and/or title, Box number, Bread and Roses: Documents from the Women’s Liberation Movement in Boston, MSS 153, Special Collections, MSU Libraries, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

  • Scope and Contents

    The collection contains pamphlets, newsletters, and ephemera on women's liberation, anti-Viet Nam, and the counter culture movement.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.