The Women's Center Oral History Collection

In 1972, Northern Michigan University held a conference titled "The Changing Role of Women in the 70's.” This conference led to the establishment of the Women's Center, which in 1973 became an official program of Northern Michigan University's Office of Continuing Education as a social and educational support group for women. The Center provided public educational workshops and programs such as assertiveness training, active listening, and a displaced homemaker program; it also offered sexual assault counseling and support services and fielded a sexual assault response team. Members of the Women’s Center separately founded the Spouse Abuse Shelter Project, an independent non-profit organization offering a refuge for victims of domestic violence. This organization became part of the Women’s Center in 1986 and was renamed Harbor House in the early 1990s. Northern Michigan University ceased its funding of the Women's Center in 1980 owing to budget cuts. However, the Women's Center was reorganized as a non-profit community-based organization by the Women’s Center Community Advisory Council that same year and, after a period of transience, the Women’s Center found a permanent residence in the Marquette community in 1986.

As part of the 40th Anniversary of The Women's Center in 2013, Jane Ryan began a series of oral history interviews with women who founded, volunteered, received services, or worked at the Center. The oral histories describe how and why women organized and established the Women's Center. Interviewees discuss the benefits of early educational workshops and programs to women and families in the Marquette area. Recipients of the Center's services summarize the life-changing effects these services had on them. Interviews with current and former staff members provide first-hand accounts on operational procedures and the evolution of the Center over time.

See the full finding aid here.