Women in Washington State participated in the "second wave" of feminism of the late 20th century following what is
considered to be the "first wave" which began in the 1840s and lasted through the enactment of the 19th amendment to the U.S.
Constitution in 1920 which enabled nationwide women’s suffrage. Beginning in 1963 when then Governor Albert D. Rosellini
appointed the first Commission on the Status of Women in Washington, Washington enacted a series of feminist laws including
legalizing abortion in early pregnancy in 1970, approving the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, as well as enacting Equal Credit
for Women in 1972 and No-Fault Divorce in 1973. The International Women’s Year Conference in Ellensburg in 1977 was a pivotal
event to galvanize positions on feminism in Washington and created a backlash which resulted in the dismantling of the Washington
Women’s Council by then Governor Dixy Lee Ray in 1978. A landmark initiative in Washington relating to Comparable Worth for
State Employees was established in the mid 1980s and the state’s abortion rights were confirmed in 1991. Throughout the period,
decisions and discourse on women’s rights and opportunities continued to be in the public eye.
Seattle Center Foundation's The Next Fifty website includes a curriculum about the portrayal of women at Seattle's 1962 World's Fair. Entitled The Fairer Sex,
the curriculum offers primary and secondary source materials that provide insight into the lives of women in the early 1960s.
1977 Washington State Women's Conference
Central Washington University
The 1977 Washington State Women's Conference & Related Materials Digital Collection
is an artificial collection culled from multiple collections housed
in the Central Washington University Archives and Special Collections. The
collection (through public records, newspaper clippings, office files, video and
scrapbook images) provides a sense of the excitement and disappointment felt
by the women who planned and attended the 1977 Washington State Conference
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
The Women's Collection contains photographs, letters, and pamphlets related to a wide variety of topics in women's history. Subjects covered include women in politics, women's clubs, charitable organizations, women of color, suffrage, ERA, women in the workforce, prohibition, and prostitution.
The Status of Women 1963-2006
Washington State Archives
This collection documents the activities in Washington State to both examine the status of women in the state and to enact changes to better meet the needs of the modern woman. The collection consists of materials from the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women; the Records of the Washington State Women's Council, 1971-1978; the Records of the Washington State Governor’s Interagency Committee of State Employed Women, 1970-2006; and the Documents and Reports on Comparable Worth in the State of Washington, 1964-1995.
Governors Papers Related to Women's Issues 1904-1984
Washington State Archives
This collection documents contacts between the Governor's Office, women, and women’s organizations, regarding women’s issues, women’s suffrage, women's rights, and comparable worth. It includes correspondence, legislation, proclamations, reports, newspaper clippings, booklets, information on comparable worth, and information from the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, the Interagency Committee on State Employed Women, and the Women's Council.