Important Role of former Nazis in Eastern Germany." 

November 21, 1950
Central Files Decimal Number 762B.00

Women Organizing Transnationally: The Committee of Correspondence, 1952-1969

Date Range: 1952-1969
Content: 56,645 pages
Source Library: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College


The women who founded the Committee of Correspondence in April 1952 believed they were engaged in a contest for the hearts and minds of influential women leaders in developing and newly independent countries who could be misled by Soviet lies and ‘negative’ propaganda that criticized the US government and society. In this respect they were among the American intellectuals and activists of the 1950s and 1960s who earned the appellation ‘Cold War liberal’. Cold War liberalism referenced a skeptical or realistic liberalism driven by anti-communist conviction and fear of totalitarianism emanating from, or emulating, the Soviet Union. Cold War liberals continued to believe in the power of democratic governments to promote social progress and in the innate ‘goodness’ of the individual and were determined that individual freedom and democratic justice would prevail in the post World War II world. Although they were determined to provide ‘positive’ propaganda and to counteract charges spread through the socialist world press, these women also promoted an internationalist ‘women’s advancement’ agenda in addition to their nationalist Cold War political agenda, based on their belief that male-led governments worldwide underestimated women’s role as public opinion-makers, and that women’s political participation was necessary to establish truly democratic nations.

The Committee of Correspondence slogan, ‘The Truth Shall Set You Free’, and the Committee’s first newsletter intended to present ‘honest facts and helpful information’ about the false accusation of germ warfare employed in Korea. In their first year of operation, they also circulated information to present the US government’s case against the Soviet spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; to expose the sham of the Soviet-sponsored December 1952 Congress of the People for Peace; and to publicize Soviet manipulations behind the Women’s International Democratic Federation whose representatives of women’s organizations in socialist countries interacted with Western-led women’s international organizations through the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Women Organizing Transnationally:  The Committee of Correspondence, 1952-1969 provides a rich collection from which to explore gendered aspects of Cold War liberalism, the United States government’s clandestine and overt cultural propaganda operations, women’s relationships to U.S. foreign policy, and the varied goals and methods of women’s international organizations that interacted in United Nations forums and at international conferences during the first two decades of the Cold War. Like other Western women’s international organizations that that participated at the UN through the newly established Commission on the Status of Women, the Committee advocated for women’s involvement in foreign policy making and in the post war global governance system; and like other US women’s organizations, they promoted the spread of “American values” around the globe and networking among women leaders in developed and developing nations.

The records within this collection include extensive official correspondence as well as hundreds of letters to and from correspondents throughout the world documenting the work of the organization. In addition there are

  • Official records
  • Minutes
  • Complete files of multi-lingual publications entitled "Community Action Series" and "Meeting Community Needs" and other miscellaneous publications
  • Conferences and workshop material
  • Oral history transcripts, 1988-89, with related biographical material and writings by individuals
  • Card files on individual participants, filed by country

The country files also contain published materials pertaining to the status and problems of the world's women.

Women Organizing Transnationally:  The Committee of Correspondence, 1952-1969 provides a wealth of information necessary for research in Women's and Feminist Studies, Transnational Studies, Radical Studies, Global Studies, Conflict Studies, Human rights, Government/Political Science, Post-Colonial Studies, and Social History.

Research/dissertation topics inlude:

  • Global Feminism
  • Transnational Women’s Organizations
  • Communism, Cold War and Women
  • Transnational Women and Global Networks
  • Gender and Globalism
  • International Relations of Women
  • Constructing internationalism: the case of transnational women's organizations
  • Transnational Women's Identities

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