Stewardesses for Women's Rights Collection
Language of Materials
Stewardesses for Women's Rights (SFWR) was founded in 1972 after two flight attendants, Sandra Jarrell and Jan Fulsom, took Eastern Airlines to court on discrimination charges. The organization grew nationwide and worked to inform the public and other flight attendants about airline companies' sexist advertisements, company discrimination, and airline health and safety hazards. This collection includes correspondence, the constitution and by-laws, membership lists, and agendas. Along with general records, there is extensive research material from each of the SFWR task forces, records from affiliated unions, updates from regional offices, photographs, and papers from SFWR national conferences.
In the winter of 1972 two Eastern Airlines flight attendants, Sandra Jarrell and Jan Fulsom, took Eastern Airlines to court on charges of discriminatory weight and grooming regulations. These regulations, enforced against female flight attendants but not against their male co-workers, led both women to leave their jobs, claiming their working conditions were unreasonably stressful. Consequently, the two women joined with other flight attendants to address working conditions and discrimination within the airline industry to form Stewardesses for Women's Rights (SFWR). The response from flight attendants was immediate and substantial. The SFWR national headquarters (opened in early 1974) was at Rockefeller Center in New York City, and there were regional offices throughout the United States. The first national conference of SFWR, held in March 1973, was addressed by Gloria Steinem, who had recently founded Ms. Magazine. Steinem continued to be a strong supporter of the organization throughout its brief existence.
As part of its services, the organization published a newsletter (Stewardesses for Women's Rights) ten times yearly. In it SFWR informed its members of sexist advertising, company discrimination, and health and safety hazards in the airline industry. SFWR also wrote and produced a counter-commercial that emphasized the flight attendant as a responsible professional within the airline industry rather than a glamour girl. Also, SFWR served as a legal liaison, linking stewardesses who had been discriminated against by airline companies to lawyers who could successfully defend them. Many stewardesses were restored to their jobs with full back pay and benefits as a result of asking SFWR for help. A number of individuals were reinstated in their jobs and won considerable back pay judgments after approaching SFWR for help. SFWR also helped change discriminatory policies of airline companies. In time tensions developed within the organization; some members saw their struggle primarily in feminist terms, and others were interested in traditional labor organizing. Some left to devote their time more exclusively to union activity. Due to declining membership and lack of funding, SFWR folded in the spring of 1976.
This collection is arranged into four series:
Series I: Correspondence
Series II: Subject Files
Series III: Task Forces
Series IV: Visual Materials and Artifacts
Files in each series are alphabetized.
Scope and Content Note
This artificial collection is made up of materials on the Stewardesses for Women's Rights, donated by multiple former members of the group. This collection includes correspondence, the constitution and by-laws, membership lists, and agendas. Along with general records, there is extensive research material from each of the SFWR task forces, records from affiliated unions, updates from regional offices, photographs, exhibit materials, textiles, and papers from SFWR national conferences.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the Stewardesses for Women's Rights was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Identification of item, date; Stewardesses for Women's Rights Collection; WAG 061; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by various former members of the Stewardesses for Women's Rights, 1987. The accession numbers associated with these gifts are 1987.019, 1987.020, and 1987.021.
The materials making up this collection were donated by various former members of Stewardesses for Women's Rights after an SFWR reunion was held at the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, NYU, in the summer of 1987. The reunion was organized and the collection assembled by Wagner archivist Brenda Parnes. The majority of the records were donated by former SFWR National Coordinator, Nan Frost Weimers.
About this Guide
Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the Stewardesses for Women's Rights Photographs (PHOTOS 178). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Stewardesses for Women's Rights Collection (WAG 061) as Series IV. A later accession was also repatriated to the collection and incorporated into Series IV.