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Joan Israel Papers

Identifier: UP000797

Scope and Content

The material in this collection reflects Ms Israel's involvement in the women's movement and improved child care programs.

Important subjects covered in the collection are: Affirmative action Child Care programs Discrimination against women in employment and education Discrimination by A.T.& T. and Michigan Bell Equal Rights Amendment Jewish Family and Children's Services National Organization of Women Women's Movement

Important correspondents include: Patricia Burnett, first president of N.O.W. -- Detroit and professional portrait artist Jean Findlater, Program Director of WXYZ TV Melvin Ravitz, member of the Detroit Common Council

Series Description: Series I, Child Care, 1970-1974: Correspondence, clippings and other materials relating to child care in Detroit, in Michigan and on the national level. Materials were collected because of the N.O.W. committee on child care. Included are legislative proposals for government funded child care programs, community organized groups devoted to better child care development, guidelines for day care centers, and samples of public and private day care centers in operation throughout the nation.

Series II, the National Organization for Women, 1969-1977: Correspondence, clippings and other materials relating to the founding and growth of the Detroit chapter of N.O.W. Along with newsletters, minutes and broadsides of the chapter, highlighted are the active interests of the chapter in day care, abortion, prevention of rape, sexual discrimination in the media and in employment discrimination by A.T.& T. and Michigan Bell.

Series III, the Women's Movement, 1966-1976: Clippings, correspondence and other materials relating to the growth of the women's movement. The materials collected, through the N.O.W. officers' portfolios, are numerous enough to index of themselves. Included topics are non-sexist education, the Equal Rights Amendment, affirmative action, Jewish Family and Children's Service programs, discrimination against women and the WXYZ TV Women's Advisory Committee.

Non-manuscript Materials: Numerous. pamphlets, booklets relating to child care and five booklets relating to the women's movement are placed in separate manuscript boxes with the collection


  • 1966 - 1977
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1975


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Joan Israel who was born in 1930, is a feminist psychotherapist (ACSW) currently in practice in the Detroit area. As one of the first members of the Detroit chapter of the National Organization for Women, Ms. Israel has collected papers detailing the growth of the women's movement in southeastern Michigan. The collection is not limited solely to the Detroit area, but also contains material regarding the movement elsewhere in Michigan and the United States.

Graduated with an A.B. from the University of Rochester in 1952, Ms. Israel obtained her Master's Degree in social work from Smith College in 1954. First employed by the Jewish Family and Children's Service in Detroit (1954-1957), she became Director of Operation Friendship, funded by the National Council of Jewish Women, from 1960-1968. Ms. Israel then served two years with the Merrill-Palmer Institute as the Director of the Undergraduate Practicum Program (1968-1970). From 1970 to 1974, she was the Coordinator of Special Projects for the Jewish Family and Children's Service. Since that time she has been in private practice as a psychotherapist. In addition, Ms. Israel also founded and was director of New Options, Inc., a consulting firm on affirmative action from 1974 until 1976.

Along with her professional social work, Ms. Israel was coeditor of Looking Ahead- A Woman's Guide to the Problems and Joys of Growing Older published by Prentice-Hall in 1977. As a film-maker, she has produced Women Alone, a 7 minute 16mm study of a black mother on A.D.C. assistance, and To Life, a 10 minute 16mm. color film dealing with three older people who cope with aging.

Her interest in the need for child care by working parents prompted her to organize and chair the National Organization of Women Child Care Committee from 1968 to 1970. Ms. Israel was then appointed (1969-1970) by the Detroit Common Council to head their committee formed to study the child care needs in Detroit; the report led to the creation of the Wayne County Child Care Council.

As a member of the Women's Advisory Committee, Detroit Human Relations Commission (1970-1973), Ms. Israel was asked to head the Women's Advisory Committee for WXYZ-TV in 1973. As president of N.O.W. in Detroit, she served two terms (1970-1974) and appeared widely in the media to support the growth of the organization and the women's movement in general. While serving as a national board member (1976-1977), Ms. Israel also co-chaired workshops for the N.O.W. national conference held in Detroit in April 1977. Ms. Israel is married to Dr. Kenneth Israel, a psychiatrist, and they have three children.


4.5 Linear Feet (10 MB)


One of the first members of the Detroit chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Joan Israel served two terms as president of the chapter. Ms. Israel organized and chaired the NOW Child Care Committee and acted as head of a Detroit Common Council committee that led to the formation of the Wayne County Child Care Council. Ms. Israel’s papers reflect her involvement in the women’s movement and childcare advocacy, and detail the growth of the women’s movement in southeastern Michigan.


Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 3-5), Series 3 (Boxes 6-7), and Non-manuscript materials (Boxes 8-9). Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic.


The papers of Joan Israel were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in February of 1977 by Joan Israel.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in October 1981.


Guide to the Joan Israel Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA