Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

John Kneebone


In the late 1960s a group of women became interested in forming a chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in Richmond. These women, led by Zelda Nordlinger and Holt Carlton, followed a pragmatic, big-tent approach to women’s activism. This ideological and tactical openness defies traditional historical labels as these women fluidly moved through organizations and tactics in order to gain a stronger local following. Richmond’s NOW chapter, while staying attuned to the national organization’s platform, remained relatively autonomous and parochial in its tactics and pursuits. Further, Richmond NOW showed a marked change around 1974 with an influx of newer women into the organization. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) struggle provided the local movement with new prominence. With the interjection of new blood the chapter saw a shift in its tactics and policy. The newer cohort of women maintained a belief in a pragmatic, big-tent approach; however, they interpreted it differently. The chapter became more procedural and organizationally based. It also narrowed its focus and tactics, seeing the first generation’s free-wheeling style as a hindrance to organizational success. The different political experiences of these two cohorts led to different visions of Richmond’s NOW chapter.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

July 2010

Included in

History Commons