Ask A Librarian

ERA and NOW Pins in the Lillian Waugh Papers

Posted by Mary Alvarez.
February 26th, 2024

Written by Madisyn Magers, Graduate Assistant for the West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection 

       The Equal Right Amendment (ERA) is an amendment to the United States Constitution that would prohibit sex discrimination and bring equality of rights under the law to anyone, regardless of sex. The amendment was first proposed in 1923. Throughout the years following the amendments’ introduction, enough states have ratified the amendment (passage by two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and approval by three-fourths of the states), but they did not meet the specified deadline, so the amendment is still not a part of the U.S. Constitution.  Many states ratified the amendment during the 1970s, including West Virginia which ratified the amendment in 1972, but some states ratified the amendment as late as 2020. 

       Lillian Waugh was professor of Women’s Studies at West Virginia University, a member of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and one of the founders of the Morgantown chapter of the organization. The National Organization for Women is a non-profit organization that is centered on women’s rights. Waugh was active in NOW and advocated for the ERA. Her collection includes materials that demonstrate her activism including many papers that show her participation and leadership in Morgantown NOW. The collection also includes an interesting selection of the pins and badges she collected.  

two pins, the one on the left is a circular NOW pin and the left is a gold ERA pin

Highlighted are two pins from her collection, a green NOW circle pin, and a gold ERA pin. While the official dates for the pins are unknown, it is believed they date from the 1970s when there were several marches and rallies in support of the amendment. To obtain more information about the Lillian Waugh Papers or any other collection in the West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection, contact the WVRHC. 

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