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Zelda K. Nordlinger Papers

Identifier: M 089

Scope and Contents

The Zelda K. Nordlinger Papers, 1970-2008, is a collection of files used by Richmond, Virginia feminist and women's rights activist Zelda Kingoff Nordlinger. The papers provide insight into the second-wave feminist movement in the Richmond area with examples of the experiences, methods of activism, and organizations Nordlinger and her colleagues used to further their goals.

Series 1: Personal Files, 1970-2008: The bulk of the collection is comprised of the personal papers of Zelda Nordlinger regarding her work in women's activism in the Richmond area. The material consists of various newsletters, mailings, and pamphlets distributed by feminist groups to disseminate information relevant to their goals. Much of the material focuses on lobbying for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) or other legislation to further the rights held by women.

Included with these materials is Nordlinger's collection of political and activist buttons. The buttons display images and messages related to Nordlinger's areas of interest such as the ratification the ERA, advocating for abortion rights, and promoting women's equality.

Informational pamphlets within the collections explore topics ranging from the effects of rape on society, the role of women throughout history, women's medical rights, and the roles of consent in relationships. Others act as political promotional material, often supporting feminist-oriented candidates for office or new legislation, such as the ERA and bills supporting LGBTQ rights. A series of pamphlets in Dutch is also included in the collection, exploring sexism in the Netherlands and its effects on wages and women's roles in Dutch society in the 1970s.

Correspondence written by and to Nordlinger provides insight into Nordlinger's professional and personal life. Professional correspondence provides examples of negotiations with publishers for her short stories and essays, donation of personal materials to libraries in Virginia, and coordinating events such as NOW meetings. Personal correspondence provides an emotional viewpoint of the feminist movement in the Richmond area, as letters by Nordlinger and various Richmond women explain the impact which the women's movement has played on their lives.

Examples of Nordlinger's speeches, research notes, and personal and professional correspondence are represented in the collection. Speech note cards created for use by Nordlinger in delivering speeches and presentations on women's issues provide examples of the most pertinent issues for Nordlinger, such as the impact of pornography on women. Research notes contain information compiled by Nordlinger from various sources for use in her writings. Such writings include several short stories portraying the struggles of women in modern society, as well as historical essays examining how world politics affect women globally. Examples of her works are represented in this series as selections of essays and short stories.

Series 2: Subject Files, 1972-2000: The collection also contains a significant compilation of subject files which Nordlinger used for research into topics related to women's advocacy. These subject files are comprised of newspaper articles and magazine features which focus on then-contemporary analyses of the place of women in various aspects of society. Such topics explored in the subject files include women's fight for the right of abortion, the impacts of feminism, and the detrimental effects of pornography on the roles of women.

Additionally, Series 2 includes assorted magazines which Nordlinger used in her research, such as multiple issues of the feminist-oriented publications Ms. Magazine, The Woman's Calendar, and Mother Jones. Other magazines used for her research include the first issue of Playgirl and an issue of Time. All magazines used in Nordlinger's research contain articles regarding the benefits of feminist attitudes or examples of why feminism is needed in modern society.


  • 1970-2008


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Zelda Kingoff Nordlinger was an active particpant in movements for women's rights in Richmond, Virginia and co-founder of the Richmond branch of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She was born on January 29, 1932, in Greenville, South Carolina to Joseph Kingoff and Alice Heiner Kingoff. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1950. She later attended Marjorie Webster Jr. College in Washington, D.C. in 1952 and Sally Tompkins School of Practical Nursing in 1963. She married Martin Stanford Nordlinger (1930-2002) in 1963. Nordlinger later attended Virginia Commonwealth University graduating with a Bachelor of General Studies degree in 1985.

Nordlinger was a staunch advocate for the national legalization of abortion. Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, she assisted women in Richmond in finding legal avenues for safe abortions. She co-founded the Richmond chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) with Mary Holt Woolfolk Carlton in 1969, gaining its charter in 1973. She maintained membership with multiple women's activism groups in the Richmond area including the Women's Lobby of Virginia, Virginia Foundation for Women (VFW), and Planned Parenthood.

As a member of NOW, Nordlinger participated in various efforts in the Richmond area to ensure reproductive rights, rape victim protection, and to end sexual segregation. She led a sit-in to integrate the all-male soup bar of the Richmond Thalhimers Department Store in 1970. At NOW conventions and demonstrations, she often delivered speeches discussing various topics in regard to women's rights. Additionally, Nordlinger furthered her activism as a freelance writer, composing essays and short stories which highlighted the social injustices women faced. Nordlinger regularly submitted her writings for publication in feminist and mainstream magazines such as The Back Page, The New Yorker, and Ms. Magazine.

Nordlinger died March 18, 2008, in Richmond, Virginia.


Robertson, Ellen and McKelway, Bill. "Zelda K. Nordlinger, feminist activist, dies," Richmond Times-Dispatch. (Article link)

VCU Libraries, VCU Libraries Digital Collections, Zelda Kingoff Nordlinger Interviews. (Interview link)


3.59 Linear Feet (4 Boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into two series: Series 1: Personal Files, 1970-2008 and Series 2: Subject Files, 1972-2000.

Series 1
Personal Files, 1970-2008
Series 2
Subject Files, 1972-2000

Acquisition Information

Gift of Zelda K. Nordlinger in 2000, and Betsy Brinson in 2008.

A Guide to the Zelda K. Nordlinger Papers, 1970-2008
Dillon Thomas
2019 By Virginia Commonwealth University. All rights reserved.
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Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108