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History of Pennsylvania Montgomery County NOW

In December 1978 a few citizens of Montgomery County put up notices in supermarkets and sent press releases to local papers to set up a meeting to consider starting a local chapter of NOW. The women and men who attended heard the President of the Philadelphia chapter give a history of the organization and discuss its current goals.

As a result, 35 charter members applied to the National, and regular monthly meetings began in January 1979, at the same location as today, the Jeanes Library in Whitemarsh. The first program was on the Equal Rights Amendment, committees were established, and the By-Laws were drafted and adopted. The first newsletter was issued in March of 1979.

The next month Moira Hahn was elected the first President of the chapter. In May we attended our first state board meeting, and on August 26 we marched in our first Women's Equality Day demonstration.

Within the first year we were writing letters to legislators and newspapers, publishing a monthly newsletter, and inviting speakers to our monthly programs. Equality and reproductive freedom were the major issues on which chapter members focused. Walk-a-thons, bake sales, and marketing of buttons and T-shirts were our fundraisers besides dues.

In May, 1981 National granted a provisional charter to our chapter. At that time Eleanor Smeal, a former resident of Pennsylvania, was the President of National and Dorothy Lerro was the President of the chapter. Over the years the chapter has been involved in numerous activities. The ERA was unsuccessful but chapter members went across the country to work in states where the vote was close. Abortion rights (later called "pro-choice") caused us to lobby heavily and to picket in counter-demonstrations to those held by anti-abortion (anti-choice) outside hospitals and clinics, sometimes at personal physical risk.

Through our meetings and constant barrage of letters to government officials and the media, we worked to raise the consciousness of women and men to the issues about which we felt strongly. We helped other chapters within the county to develop.

Other subjects addressed over the last twenty years were gender equity, domestic violence, discrimination and harassment, day care, welfare reform, medical needs, diversity, affirmative action, racism, gay and lesbian rights, religion and spirituality, financial independence, reporting on the positions of political candidates, and family law problems of women in the county, family and medical leave, pornography and women's herstory.

In the fall of 2003, Montgomery NOW celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Ours has been an active and dedicated group.

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