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Tish Sommers Papers

Identifier: MS-0010

Scope and Contents

The Tish Sommers Papers include speeches and working papers, extensive correspondence with legislators and women's movement activists from 1970 to 1985. It also includes: photographs, drafts of published and unpublished manuscripts and research papers, newspaper clippings and publicity materials, organizational papers (correspondence, reports, fund raising and financial records), audio-visual material, awards, personal items, books and periodicals, and other miscellaneous items.


  • Creation: 1970-1985


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Tish Sommers was most known as an advocate of women's rights, especially older women's rights. She chaired NOW's Task Force on Older women in the 1970s, and in 1980 founded the Older Women's League (OWL). OWL is an advocacy organization with chapters across the country which has had political influence on many issues of importance to older women such as Social Security, pensions, health care and health insurance.

Sommers spent the majority of her life as a homemaker, though she was always active in volunteer work which involved a cause, such as poverty, or civil rights. After her divorce at the age of 57 she worked primarily for the rights of older women. She was influential in the founding of the Alliance for Displaced Homemakers which was responsible for taking many older women's issues to the White House, and for establishing a federal program for "displaced homemakers," a term she coined which describes the status of women who have lost their financial support through divorce or illness, and whose skills are not easily marketable.


62.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Pre-1973 Issues
II. Pre-1972 Projects
    1. Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP)
    2. School for Community Action (SCA)
    3. Join Hands
    4. Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)
III. NOW and NOW Task Force on Older Women, 1971-78
IV. Women's Action Training Center (WATC) and Jobs for Older Women (JOW), 1974-76
     1. WATC Correspondence
     2. WATC Topical Folders
     3. JOW
V. Alliance for Displaced Homemakers, 1975-78
1. Displaced Homemakers (DH) Center, Oakland
2. Alliance for DH / NOW Task Force
3. DH Network, Washington D.C.
4. ADH Hearing Transcripts, Congressional Records
5. Donahue and Family Weekly Responses, 1976-77
6. Women's Day Article Responses, 1978
7. Over Easy Responses, 1978
VI. Older Women's League Education Fund (OWLEF), 1978-
1. Correspondence
2. Topical Files
VII. Older Women's League (OWL), 1980-
1. Correspondence
2. Board of Directors
3. Executive Committee
4. Financial
5. Public Relations
6. Topical Files
7. Social Security
VIII. Newspaper Clippings, 1973-88
IX. Coalition Organizations
1. California Commission on Aging
2. Gray Panthers
3. Western Gerontology Society
X. Conference Packages
1. California State House Conference on Aging
2. Gray Panthers
3. National Council on Aging
4. OWL National Convention, Louisville, 1982
5. OWL National Convention, Washington D.C., 1984
6. OWL
7. Western Gerontological Society
XI. Research
1. Track Record
2. Speeches, Testimonies, Course Material, Radio Commentaries
3. Articles, Papers, Outlines for Book Proposals
4. The Not-so-Helpless Female Publication Files
5. Growing Older Female Project & Interview Files
6. China Study Tour, 1978
7. Generations-Older Women's Issue, Spring 1980
XII. Personal
1. Birthday Celebrations
2. River Trips
3. Cancer Support Group
4. Sommers' Death
5. Financial, Will, Properties
XIII. Audio-Visual
1. Photographs
2. Slides
3. Cassette Tapes
4. Film and Videotapes
XIV. Publications
1. Books
2. Periodicals

Source of Acquisition

Laurie Shields

Accruals and Additions

1986-007, 1988-004, 1990-005, 1991-008

Related Materials

Older Women's League Collection

Other Descriptive Information

The Shirley Sandage Papers (1927-2007) located at the IOWA WOMEN’S ARCHIVES, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA LIBRARIES, IOWA CITY, IOWA

Tish Sommers Papers
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US