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Women's Center records

Identifier: MSS-384

Scope and Contents

This collection contains audio-visual materials, correspondence, newspaper clippings, reports, publications, membership lists, financial documents, legal documents, workshop files, events files, committee files, and more from the Marquette Women's Center. It documents the local women's rights movement from the 1970s through the 2010s and the Women's Center involvement with policy and programs related to women's access to employment and higher education, discrimination against women, domestic violence, rape laws, homophobia, and more. It also documents their transition from a Northern Michigan University department to an independent community organization that had to raise its own funds.


  • Creation: 1975 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions. Open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Women's Center records, MSS-384, must be obtained from the University Archivist. The University Archivist may be reached by phone at 906-227-1225, or e-mail, The University Archivist may also be reached in Room 126 of the Learning Resource Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.

Biographical / Historical

In 1972, Sally May, Gail Griffith, Holly Greer, Karlyn Rapport, and Patricia Micklow, known as the "Founding Mothers," held a conference at Northern Michigan University titled "The Changing Role of Women in the 70's.” It was organized in collaboration with Sarah McClellan, Marilyn Gorski, and Mary Soper. This conference led to the establishment of the Women's Center, which in 1973 became an official program of Northern Michigan University's Office of Continuing Education as a social and educational support group for women. The Center provided public educational workshops and programs such as assertiveness training, active listening, and a displaced homemaker program; it also offered sexual assault counseling and support services and fielded a sexual assault response team. Some of the Women’s Center staff and volunteers, notably Holly Greer, Karlyn Rapport, and Marilyn Marshall, were responsible for founding the Spouse Abuse Shelter Project, an independent non-profit organization offering a refuge for victims of domestic violence; this organization became part of the Women’s Center in 1986 and was renamed Harbor House in the early 1990s. Northern Michigan University ceased its funding of the Women's Center in 1980 owing to budget cuts. However, the Women's Center was reorganized as a non-profit community-based organization by the Women’s Center Community Advisory Council that same year and, after a period of transience, the Women’s Center found a permanent residence in the Marquette community in 1986.


2.5 boxes

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into fifteen series, ordered alphabetically: 1. Acts, Legislative--bills and acts in the state of Michigan related to domestic violence 2. Audio-Visual--mostly photographs, but also cassette and VHS recordings and CDs with documents and photographs 3. Awards--an application nominating Geraldine DeFant for her work with the Women's Center and other community activism 4. By-laws--this is not the by-laws of the Women's Center itself, but a single folder of the by-laws of the Michigan Coalition against Domestic Violence 5. Clippings 6. Construction of the Women's Center Facility and Harbor House 7. Correspondence 8. Files: This series has several sub-series: committee files (meeting minutes and agendas) for several committees related to the Women's Center, event files documenting events put on by the Women's Center, legal files related to cases of Marquette Judge Edward Quinnell that the Women's Center believed showed discrimination against women involved in the case and misogynistic comments made by the judge, press releases given to local media, and workshop files of workshops run by the Women's Center 9. Financial--this series contains budgets, utility bills, expenditure reports, financial assistance requests from local women, and a grant proposal 10. Histories--this series contains notes about the history of the women's center as well as documents related to American women's history 11. Membership--this series contains membership lists, addresses, and volunteer forms 12. Newsletters--this series contains both newsletters from the Marquette Women's Center and from women's centers and organizations from around the country 13. Procedures Manual--a procedures manual for the Women's Center and Harbor House, the shelter run by the Women's Center 14. Publications--This series has two sub-series: publication by others and publications by the Women's Center. 15. Reports--Reports by the Women's Center about individual programs or the center as a whole. This includes many annual reports.

Related Materials

MSS-302, The Women's Center Oral History collection, contains oral history interviews with founders, volunteers, and those helped by the center. It would be of interest to anyone researching the Women's Center. MSS-027, the Geraldine DeFant papers, would also be of interest. Geri DeFant was a local politician and activist who served on the Women's Center board for many years. Those interested in women's history in the Upper Peninsula might also be interested in MSS-007, the Women's Campaign File collection.

Women's Center records
Annika Peterson
22 June 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Repository

Harden Learning Resources Center 126
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette 49855 United States
906-227-1333 (Fax)


This collection guide includes collections from member organizations of UPLINK (the Upper Peninsula Digital Network) as well as the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. UPLINK collections document the history of the Upper Peninsula broadly, while the Central UP & NMU Archives focuses on such topics as Northern Michigan University history, the local iron mining industry, and the politics, economics, religion, environment, and culture of the Central Upper Peninsula region.

These finding aids will give you an overview of the contents and context of each collection. Finding aids only exist for collections that each organization has shared with UPLINK or (in the case of the NMU Archives) for processed collections. For a more comprehensive list of collections that might help with your research, please contact the relevant heritage organization(s) directly.

Northern Michigan University
1401 Presque Isle Ave. • Marquette, MI 49855-5301 • 906–227–1000
© 2018 by the NMU Board of Trustees. NMU is an equal opportunity institution.