Frances Patai Papers
Language of Materials
Frances Patai was an educator, writer, historian and feminist activist. Born in New York in 1930 she earned her bachelors and masters degrees at the City College of New York in the 1950s and taught English and communication courses throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Throughout her career Patai was concerned with the rights and status of women, and in the last decade of her life she devoted her efforts to researching and writing a book on women medical personnel who volunteered during the Spanish Civil War. Patai died in 1998 before she could bring her project to fruition. She was 67 years old. The Patai Papers consist predominantly of research materials she gathered and drafts she produced during the course of her work on her unpublished book, Heroines of the Good Fight: U.S. Women Volunteers in the Spanish Civil Warincluding articles, clippings, and notes.
Frances Patai was born in New York City's Lower East Side in 1930. As a teenager, Patai performed in Jewish resorts in the Catskills as an actress and dancer. In her twenties she attended classes at City College of New York earning her bachelor's degree in 1955 and her MA in 1957. Beginning in the 1970s she served as an English and communications instructor at various institutions in the City University of New York (CUNY) system including long-term appointments at John Jay and the Borough of Manhattan Community Colleges.
Throughout her career Patai was concerned with the rights and status of women, addressing in a series of essays and articles issues related to rape, pornography, and abuse. During the 1980s she worked with the feminist organization Woman Against Pornography, serving as spokesperson and organizing their annual WAP Awards, an event that promoted the non-sexist representation of women in advertising. In later life Patai turned her attention to the anti-fascist movements of the 1930s, and began to investigate the history of American volunteers who joined the Republican forces to fight against Franco's army during the Spanish Civil War. Patai focused her attention on the participation of American women volunteers in the Spanish Civil War devoting her efforts to researching and writing a book on the contributions of nurses. Through her friendship with Fredericka Martin - a nurse with the Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy who accrued extensive biographical material on her former colleagues - Patai gained access to unique primary materials. Patai died in 1998 before she could bring her project to fruition. She was 67 years old. Shortly before her death, Patai established an endowment to the City College Center for Worker Education to fund annual courses and lectures on the Nazi Holocaust.
Rimmel, Leslie, "Frances (Francesca) Patai, 1930-1998," Off Our Backs(Washington), April 1998.Leberstein, Stephen, "Eloquence of Former Chancellor Sparks Major CCNY Bequest," CUNY Matters, Spring 1998.
Folders are arranged alphabetically within each series.
Organized into three series
- I. Biographical Files
- II. Writings
- III. Subject Files
Scope and Content Note
The Frances Patai Papers consist predominantly of research materials she gathered and the drafts she produced during the course of her work on her unpublished book, Heroines of the Good Fight: U.S. Women Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War including articles, clippings, and notes. The collection is arranged in three series.
Series I: biographical files of nurses and other women personnel who served during the Spanish Civil War. These contain recollections and firsthand accounts of the wartime medical facilities and the conditions in Spain during the conflict.
Series II: published and unpublished materials by Patai, including drafts of her book, articles about the women in the International Brigades, conference papers and proposals, and miscellaneous writings on pornography and sexual abuse.
Series III: This series is made up of subject files. Included here are notes, excerpt from publications, and research materials on general topics, organizations, and individuals as well as biographical material on Patai. Notable among these files are copies of Jirku Gusti's, "We Fight Death," and Sandor Voros' unpublished manuscript on hospitals and medical services.
Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives for more information and to schedule an appointment, email@example.com or 212-998-2630.
Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), were transferred to New York University in November 2000 by the ALBA Board of Governors. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-998-2630.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; Collection name; Collection number; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
This collection came to New York University in January 2001 as part of the original acquisition of Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives collections, formerly housed at Brandeis University. The Patai Papers were donated by Frances Patai in 1998.
Photographs were separated from Patai's manuscript materials in the course of processing. For further information related to the scope and contents of her photograph collection see, The Frances Patai Photographs, ALBA Photo, 131.
Audio tapes from the Patai Papers have been transferred to the non-print section of the ALBA collection in the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.