Washington Press Club Foundation
Logo

ORAL HISTORY PROJECT PREFACE

Logo

This oral history interview is from the "Women in Journalism" collection created by the Washington Press Club Foundation. The project includes comprehensive, full-life interviews with women journalists who have made significant contributions to society through careers in journalism since the 1920s. The interviews provide an important documentary record of the experiences of women journalists in seeking acceptance in their profession and the impact that this development has had on the reporting and editing of the nation's news. The interviews also document changes in the roles, expectations, opportunities, and obstacles for women in American society during this period.

The Oral History Project was initiated in 1986; since then a committee of the Foundation's Board of Directors has guided and shaped the project. WPCF is an organization of seasoned Washington journalists whose members quickly identified many potential interviewees; suggestions from academicians and journalists across the country added to the list. Volunteers compiled pertinent information on the candidates, and a selection committee made the final decisions. The interviewees were chosen to reflect diversity in race, locale, and type of job in journalism (e.g., editors, foreign correspondents). Other criteria included the woman's importance in her field; the perceived excellence of her work; her connection with people and events of historical significance; and her impact on the careers of other women, on the broader field of journalism, on her own institution, and on the wider community.

The women journalists interviewed for this project fall into three professional generations: those who began their careers prior to 1942, those who became journalists between the beginning of the World War II and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and those women whose careers developed after 1964.

The project has yielded a multi-faceted picture of a complex development. At least some accounts depict a struggle to overcome a pervasive atmosphere of sexual discrimination, but the interviews provide revealing glimpses of how attitudes toward the news began to change with the participation of more women journalists. From its inception, the projectŚnational in scopeŚwas designed in part to examine how increased numbers of women in journalism have broadened the coverage of society. In addition, the transcripts offer an important slice of American social history as the interviewees express the richly textured life of a major profession that, like other professions, has struggled to adapt to the changing conditions of a world in transition. Thus, for example, changes in both technology and ethics are discussed by the interviewees.

Because even less has been known about the careers of minority women than about the contributions of women journalists generally, the project has actively searched for and interviewed these women.

The oral history transcripts provide a large body of primary source material for scholars, students, teachers, and those who hope to make journalism a career. Each oral history interview has been indexed, and appendix material has been added. Tapes and transcripts are deposited at Columbia University's Oral History Research Office in New York City and in the National Press Club Library in Washington, DC. Transcripts have been made available to major schools of journalism and other research libraries (list of repositories). Some individual interview sessions were videotaped; copies of the tapes are located at Columbia University, the National Press Club Library and California State University at Sacramento.

In undertaking this project, the foundation is paying tribute to its own proud legacy dating back more than seven decades to its predecessor, the Women's National Press Club. Founded by several prominent women journalists in concert with the spirit of the women's suffrage movement, the club aimed to offset the fact that women were barred from membership and participation in the National Press Club and the Gridiron Club, both prestigious journalistic institutions in the public life of the nation's capital city. In 1971 the club was renamed the Washington Press Club and expanded to include men; the National Press Club subsequently voted to admit women journalists. In 1985, the National Press Club and the Washington Press Club merged, and the assets of the Washington Press Club were transferred to the Washington Press Club Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that exists to promote the ideals of equality and excellence that inspired the initial founders of the Women's National Press Club.

In addition to the Washington Press Club Foundation, contributors to the oral history project include Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. Foundation, the Chicago Tribune Foundation, the Daedalus Foundation, the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Freedom Forum, the Philip L. Graham Fund, the Kiplinger Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Knight-Ridder, Inc., the Joe and Emily Lowe Foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication, Inc., the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Press Foundation, the New York Times Company Foundation, Inc., the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, the Sulzberger Foundation, Time Warner Inc., the Times Mirror Foundation, Helen Copley, and numerous individual benefactors.

The Washington Press Club Foundation holds the copyright to the interviews. Quotes and citations must come from the text of the transcripts, not the tapes. The suggested form of citation is: Interview with [interviewee] by [interviewer], Women in Journalism oral history project of the Washington Press Club Foundation, [date of interview], [page of transcript], in the Oral History Collection of Columbia University and other repositories.

Users of the manuscript materials are responsible for obtaining permission to publish quotations. If more than the amount allowable under the "fair use" doctrine is required, a letter requesting permission to quote should be written to the Washington Press Club Foundation, Suite 1067, National Press Building, Washington, DC 20045. The letter should state the pages of the transcript to be used and the way in which they will be used.

Special note to Internet users: For those researchers wishing to cite the "Women in Journalism" oral history project from the WPCF's web site, we recommend consulting the following web sites offering style guidelines for such citations:


Go to Interviewee List
Oral History Home Page | WPCF Home Page

© 1994, Washington Press Club Foundation.
Washington, DC. All Rights Reserved.