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Patricia Fishback papers

Identifier: M 514

Scope and Contents

The Patricia Fishback papers, 1973-2009, is a collection of feminist literature and materials used by Patricia Fishback during her career advocating for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s and 1980s. The materials consist of correspondence with state officials, news clippings, ERA promotional materials, and general feminist materials. The collection provides insight into the efforts of second-wave feminists in their fight to ratify the ERA in Virginia. The bulk of the collection is comprised of materials used by Fishback while working with the ERA Ratification Council. Included are ERA promotional materials such as pamphlets, flyers, bumper stickers, petitions, and buttons. Fishback’s administrative files contain copies of the ERA Ratification Council's bylaws, membership lists, and selected meeting minutes from 1982 to 1989. Copies of winning submissions to the ERA Ratification Council's essay contest are also within the collection.

The correspondence is primarily between Fishback and Virginia members of Congress, requesting their support in upcoming votes for the ratification of the ERA on behalf of the ERA Ratification Council. Additional correspondents include other group representatives which made up the ERA Ratification Council such as the National Organization for Women.

The general feminist material in the collection consists of various handbooks regarding women’s rights in Virginia and how the ERA would be able to improve and expand them. Guides, essays, and newsletters from organizations such as NOW explore the struggles women face daily and advocate for women to strive for meaningful change.

The news clippings include report of fluctuating support for the ERA in Virginia, as well as articles advocating for and against the proposed ratification. Other articles report on demonstrations across Virginia by ERA advocates. Also found in this collection are photographs of Fishback and other ERA supporters participating in protests and demonstrations in 1988.


  • 1973-2009


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical Information

Patricia Fishback is a feminist activist who lobbied Virginia delegates on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Ratification Council. She also engaged as an active member of the League of Women Voters of Virginia and the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Born in Lexington, Virginia in 1940, Fishback became a teacher of mathematics in the Richmond area. She taught in Henrico County public schools as well as acted as a specialist instructor at the Mathematics and Science Center of Richmond. Additionally, she was a founding member of the Greater Richmond Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1986 and served on the governing board of the Junior Academy Science from 1984 to 1990.

Fishback became involved with the Virginia Equal Rights Amendment Ratification Council after its founding in 1974. The council was a coalition of women’s rights groups, including NOW and the League of Women Voters, which lobbied politicians and led marches of the amendment's supporters throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Fishback played an active role in the lobbying of politicians by writing letters and speeches on behalf of the council to urge delegates to support the ERA.

Fishback continues to advocate for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and women's rights in Virginia, remaining an active member of the League of Women Voters. She served as Coordinator of the Centennial Rally for Equal Rights in 2016 to commemorate the anniversary of suffragists beginning their protests in Virginia. She also spoke in support of the ERA at the Virginia Senate Rules Committee and the House Committee on Privileges and Elections in 2018.


Patricia Davis Fishback, academic administrator, educator. (Weblink)

League of Women Voters Biennial Convention - 2017. (Article link)

Sullivan, Patricia. "Virginia’s hopes of ERA ratification go down in flames this year." Washington Post, February 9, 2018. (Article link)

Wilson, Patrick. "Women pack committee rooms demanding Virginia debate Equal Rights Amendment." Richmond Times-Disptach, February 9, 2018. (Article link)


0.84 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Patricia Fishback in 2013.

A Guide to the Patricia Fishback papers, 1973-2009
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