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The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Women and political activism in Idaho oral history project

Repository: Idaho State Historical Society. Idaho State Archives

Collection Description (CRHP): See OH1411, Idaho Purce interview. Purce recalls her experiences as an African American woman living in Pocatello, Idaho, beginning in 1913. Topics include feminism, the YWCA, and civil rights in Idaho.

Collection Description (Extant): The Women and Political Activism Oral History Project records the memories of women and men involved in various aspects of politics in Idaho from 1945 through 1980. The narrators focused their remembrances on their experiences working with women's issues. This project was conducted from 1995 to 1997. The collection includes 56 interviews and detailed women's political work in post-World War II Idaho.

The narrators discussed a variety of topics. Several narrators shared their work with women's consciousness-raising groups in Boise and Lewiston. The narrators shared stories of their participation in activities such as the sit-in type protests aimed at liberating the "round table," an all male bastion at the Hotel Boise. The main goals of these groups included promoting women's issues, putting a public face to the problems of women's rights, and working to facilitate stronger female roles in the work force.

Many of the narrators for this oral history project also worked with educational issues. Some fought for the introduction of women's studies courses at Lewis-Clark State College. Others detailed the successful efforts of the Kindergarten Lobby to introduce public kindergarten in the state. Prior to their work, the state educational system offered no public kindergarten. Those working for this issue felt it was an important step in furthering the education of Idaho's children and brought changes to the system through their efforts.

As battles flamed up over the Equal Rights Amendment, several Idahoans got involved in the fighting. Some of the narrators pushed for the passage of the amendment, while others worked to keep it out of the law. Both sides are represented in this collection. They not only described the work put into fighting for or against this issue, but they also detailed their reactions to both the amendment's passage and recision.

This oral history collection does also contain interviews with several women who ran for elected office. These women ran for a variety of political positions, from city councilperson to lieutenant governor.

Those interviewed also described their involvement in several statewide and national organizations such as the YWCA, American Association of University Women, Idaho Commission on Women's Programs, League of Women Voters, and National Organization for Women. Additionally, this collection includes interviews with members of the groups in political opposition to these women's issues.

Date(s): 1945-1980

Digital Status: No

Extent: 56 oral history interviews and 1 cubic foot (89 audio cassettes, 2125 pp of transcripts and other paper documentation, 1 box of research and correspondence)

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Related Archival Items: This oral history project became the basis for a special issue of the historical journal Idaho Yesterdays (Volume 41, number 3, Fall 1997).

Interviewees: Idaho Purce

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American political activists--Idaho
African American women civil rights workers--Idaho
African Americans--Civil rights--Idaho
Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A.


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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