About the Herstory Project
Womankind graphicThe CWLU Herstory Project Mission Statement by the CWLU Herstory Editorial Committee (1999)

Using the Internet to tell the history of women's liberation from the ground up, the Chicago Womens Liberation Union (CWLU) Herstory Project documents the role of the CWLU in the movement for women's liberation and social justice of the late 1960s and 1970s.

As original members and new friends of the CWLU, we believe that women continue daily to make history and that we need to support each other. We find our lives constantly shaped by our experiences in the CWLU in our friendships and family, at work, on the streets of the city, in our travels and our quest for justice.

By sharing our history we hope others are inspired to act today. "Don't mourn, organize," said Mother Jones. We say that a small group of three to five women can make mountains move. That was a lesson of CWLU workgroups in health, education, employment, and gay rights, to name a few. There we created the ideas and actions that helped women liberate each other from oppressive beliefs and old social habits.

Our goal is to connect with women today who are becoming conscious feminists. We want to work together to develop women's leadership and improve the safety and quality of womens lives in the larger struggle for social justice.

Our Purpose

The purpose of our organization is to document the role of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union (1969-1977) in the movement for women's liberation and social justice of the late 1960's and 1970's. This project is history from the ground up. With the help of other women interested in feminist issues, former CWLU activists are developing a website. Though the CWLU was active just a generation ago, an understanding of its impact on women in Chicago, as well as the national feminist movement of the times, is largely unknown.

Many of the gains that women have made (in work, education, child care, health and reproductive rights, and as active participants in all aspects of public life) are often taken for granted today. As with so many other movements for social justice in American history, the history of the women's movement is often hidden, not taught in schools, and distorted by the mass media. As former members of the CWLU, we want to share this history.

Visitors to the site will learn how the organization worked its structure, goals and projects,multiple strategies and tactics, successes and failures. This website will make a historical archive available and accessible to activists, researchers, and anyone who is interested in the history of women's liberation in the United States during the 1960's and 1970's. The archival record will include organizational documents, position papers, newsletters and newspapers, letters, notes, photographs, art work and a variety of other resources not available before. CWLU archives exist in the Chicago Historical Society and other academic libraries

This site will enable a broader variety of interested people to access CWLU documents and history. The internet is important as a communications and research medium. The site can be continually expanded and updated as new material and funding become available. The web site will be a source of inspiration to documentarians researchers, students, filmmakers, playwrights, novelists, artists who will have both primary and secondary source material available for their own projects. The site will serve as an example of "living history."

Former activists will tell their stories and share their memories and reflections through audio, video, and written text. Further, through the technology of the web, girls and women who are interested in feminist issues can talk with former members, encouraging inter-generational dialogue. Members of the CWLU can rediscover each other and share their current projects and passions.

Our activities include:

  1. Soliciting and developing an archive of historical materials through personal collections and material archived at academic and research institutions. Preparing these materials for internet display.
  2. Getting contributions from former members. This will include personal narratives, memoirs, and interviews. These reflections will be in audio, video or text format. Helping former members edit and develop narratives about the CWLU activities.
  3. Developing a photo gallery, using photographers from the 1969-1976 period, as well as today.
  4. Updating a former-member data base to use for communication.
  5. Organizing a online bulletin board for communication between former members and visitors to the site.
  6. Building a online feminist store that sells Womens Graphics Collective posters, CWLU Rock Bank CD, CDs of archival material, books and videos on feminism.
  7. Developing web links to other feminist and social justice organizations, as well as historical sites with similar issues.
  8. Ongoing maintenance and updating of the web site.
  9. Developing working relationships with women's studies students and teachers, and others who are interesting in helping with the web site. Online publishing of student projects about CWLU history.
  10. Publicity/public relations work to enable a large audience to know about the site.
  11. Preparing and lending a traveling art show of Women's Graphics Collective posters.
  12. Developing a section of the site for girls and teenagers interested in exploring feminist ideas.
  13. Finding sources of funding from individuals and foundations to support the work of the CWLU Herstory Project. _____________________________________________________