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The Women’s Program in Action, 1979-1984: Information Exchange

The Women’s Program was also charged with communicating information to the public about resources and services for women. King County Archives Series 1901, Coordinator files, and Series 1903, Subject files, document how this task was carried out.

Digital communication technology did not exist then as it does today. Program coordinator Wendy Morgan shared information through paper publications, via telephone, through audiovisual materials such as films, and through personal interactions.

Print Publications

Print publications included the annual reports, a quarterly newsletter devoted to management issues and (increasingly in the 1980s) funding sources; and directories of services and where and how to find them.

This series of emergency services cards, designed and printed by King County personnel and updated annually, were distributed widely.

Series 1903, Box 2, Folder 29.


Logotype [above] and examples of questions [below] are all from Series 1903, Box 1, Folders 10-13.

In 1979, Wendy spoke of of the rise of “self-development” opportunities for men.

1981 brought cutbacks in government funding for social services. Wendy addressed the issue in her answer to a questioner.

Ask Wendy

“Ask Wendy” was a long-running (1979-1983) feature that appeared in a number of community newspapers.

Structured as an advice column for women or people concerned with women’s issues, it was a method of conveying information about resources (books, organizations, agencies, businesses, individuals) that might help the questioner.

The column derived from communications received by the Women’s Program, with answers written personally by program coordinator Wendy Morgan.

In this 1980 column, Wendy addressed questions about exercise classes, job networks, and women and credit.

An anonymous inquiry from a Maple Valley woman was crafted into part of a 1982 “Ask Wendy” column.

Services to Non-English Speakers

Women’s Program staff understood that information needed to be available in languages other than English. At this time King County did not create its own bilingual publications. Instead, staff worked to provide information to community groups, who were responsible for conveying the information in specific languages.

The Women’s Program distributed these hand-drawn and –lettered bilingual brochures describing services for the Spanish-speaking community.

Educational Films

Films were used increasingly after 1981 to help raise community awareness about domestic violence. In 1982, program coordinator Wendy Morgan held sixty community screenings and discussions of the film, A Family Affair; it dealt with recognizing and confronting domestic violence. Three additional films on were added in 1983.

Telephone Referrals

Each year, the Women’s Program office staff answered several hundred telephone inquiries from the public on a wide variety of topics, and referred callers to appropriate service agencies and organizations. The log sheet shown here is from November 1980.

Women's Program telephone log, November, 1980. Series 1901, Box 3, Folder 41.

Reaching Out

Much of the information work done by the Women’s Program was through the personal actions and interactions of the program coordinator Wendy Morgan. These included:

    • Speeches and presentations at community meetings of women
    • Staffing information booths at fairs
    • Organizing and staffing workshops for both county and other organizations
    • Providing assistance with funding strategies, as public funds shrank in the early 1980s
    • Corresponding with women in the community seeking information

Wendy Morgan also met with individual women, about once per week, who were seeking employment referrals or other kinds of services or counseling. She kept a resume file of women seeking employment in public agencies or non-profit organizations.

An attendee at one of Wendy Morgan’s speaking engagements writes about her career development since the event. Series 1901, Box 1, Folder 16.

Gathering Information to Share

The program coordinator also attended conferences and meetings by and for women, to network with others and receive information that could be shared through the Women’s Program’s publications and personal referrals.

Ordering new printed publications from the U.S. Government Printing Office. Series 1901, Box 3, Folder 6.

Example of correspondence: response (carbon copy) to a Kennewick woman requesting information about anti-ERA organizations, 1981. Series 1901, Box 1, Folder 12.

King County "Lunch Meets"

Series 1901, Box 2, Folder 30.

“Lunch Meets” were a series of noontime presentations for King County government’s women employees, 1979-1981. An organizing committee selected the topics, with the presentations coordinated by the Women’s Program.

Topics and attendance numbers from 1979. Series 1633, Box 1, Folder 1.

Public Information Service - Meeting Women's Needs

The public information function of the Women’s Program became a lesser priority after 1984. In later years, personal computers, e-mail, and other digital communication technology would also provide new, swifter, and perhaps more efficient methods of sharing information. But the records show that, during the first years of the Women’s Program, this program function was meeting a clear community need, and that it touched the lives of many King County women.

For further research

Records generated or maintained by the Women’s Program’s first coordinator Wendy Morgan (1978-1984) make up the bulk of records in Record Group 413. They are organized into six record series:

    • Series 1633. Annual reports 1979-1984
    • Series 1889. King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence files 1981-1985
    • Series 1890. Women’s Advisory Board files 1978-1987
    • Series 1901. Coordinator files 1977-1986
    • Series 1903. Subject files 1977-1986
    • Series 1905. Contract services files1975-1988

Contact the King County Archives to request a research appointment.

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