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Bonnie Atwood papers

Identifier: M 520

Scope and Contents

The Bonnie Atwood papers, 1965-2005, is a collection of research and reference materials used by Virginia feminist Bonnie Atwood. The papers provide insight into the beliefs and methodologies of grassroots second-wave feminist activists during the 1960s and 1970s.

Series 1: Subject Files, 1965-2001: The bulk of the collection is comprised of subject files collected by Atwood, which reflect her interests and areas of advocacy. The primary focuses of the materials are feminism, civil rights, and anti-war movements. The majority of the subject files relate to Atwood's involvement in feminist causes. The files pertain to women's health, women's history, women in the news, and general feminist theory and are primarily in the form of pamphlets, essays, newsletters, and flyers. Files related to specific feminist groups and goals Atwood supported include the International Institute for Women's Studies in Northern Virginia, the Virginia Foundation for Women, and the Washington Women's Liberation Bulletin which all operated to educate women on the core concepts of second-wave feminism in the 1960s and 1970s.

An additional theme represented in Atwood's subject files is anti-war material. Included are studies and informational pamphlets exploring the effects of the Vietnam War and the draft on society, as well as material promoting protests and legislative action against the war. Correspondence included in the series is primarily with Virginia congressmen requesting action regarding the Vietnam War.

The flyers within the collection represent a wide range of topics and events which Atwood supported. Most of them promote local protests and demonstrations in the Northern Virginia and Richmond areas, while others are informational in nature to raise awareness of feminist or anti-war causes.

Series 2: Alternative News Publications and Magazines, 1969-2005: Atwood’s collection also contains various issues of alternative press publications. Many of the publications focus primarily on the promotion of non-traditional radical activism. Topics include women's liberation, anti-war, and anti-government columns. While the collection does not include full runs of the publications, the issues kept by Atwood reflect her opinions on these topics.

The series includes sporadic consecutive issues for the years 1969-1970 for the alternative newspapers Alice, Broadside, Guardian, and Quicksilver Times. Additionally, the series contains one-off issues of other alternative publications such as the first issue of Off Our Backs, a feminist and lesbian focused news publication which includes subjects that today would be described as LGBTQ+. Also found in this series are activist magazines, such as The Ragged Edge and Mouth Magazine, written to raise awareness about living with physical and mental disabilities.


  • 1968-2005


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical Information

Bonnie Atwood is a feminist lobbyist, author, and activist from Virginia, primarily active from the 1970s to the present. Her efforts include advocating for the rights of women as homemakers and protesting the Catholic annulment system. Atwood was born in Arlington, Virginia in 1947. She attended George Mason College (now George Mason University) in Fairfax, Virginia in the 1960s where she studied psychology. During her time at George Mason College, Atwood joined classes at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, DC. While there, she became involved in various activist causes such as the women's movement, the Vietnam peace movement, and the Civil Rights movement by collaborating in think tanks and alternative newspapers.

After the classes at IPS ended, Atwood and her classmates continued to meet, calling themselves the Washington Women's Liberation group. Some members spun off into other groups such as Off Our Backs, The Furies, and The Witches. These groups created alternative news publications focusing on their core beliefs. Atwood wrote articles and pamphlets for consciousness-raising efforts to contribute to several of these publications.

In 1980, Atwood moved to Richmond, Virginia where she worked as a freelance writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch while raising her child. During that period, Atwood became involved in advocacy groups for the support of women's rights in the marriage annulment process practiced by the Catholic Church. In 1993, she attended law school at the University of Richmond, focusing on disability law. While attending the university, Atwood wrote for the school newspaper's etiquette column. She graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in 1996. Rather than pursue a legal practice, Atwood became a professional lobbyist for various clients, including the Virginia Federation of Food Banks, Virginia Girl Scout Legislative Coalition, American Red Cross, Speech-Language-Hearing Association and Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. In 2003, Atwood published her book, In the Field of Honor: Stories of Virginia Veterans, a compilation of interviews with veterans from multiple branches of the United States military. Today, she continues to act as a lobbyist for the Virginia Retired Teachers Association and the Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Sources:

Bonnie Atwood - Early Women's Liberationis, Lawyer, Writer. Veteran Feminists of America. (Weblink)

"Bonnie Atwood named 2016 Communicator of Achievement." Virginia Professional Communicators . 2016. (Article Link)


5.43 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into two series: Series 1: Subject Files, 1966-2001 and Series 2: Alternative News Publications and Magazines, 1971-2005.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Bonnie Atwood in 2014.

Separated Materials

A first printing copy of the one-shot underground comic It Ain't Me, Babe has been removed from the collection and cataloged separately.

A copy of the LP record Message to the Grass Roots from Malcom X has been removed from the collection and cataloged separately.


A Guide to the Bonnie Atwood papers
Dillon Thomas
2019 By Virginia Commonwealth University. All rights reserved.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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