Skip to main content

Women's Caucus for the Modern Languages (WCML) records

Identifier: MSS0042

Scope and Contents

The Women's Caucus for the Modern Languages records range in date from 1970 to 2003 with the bulk of the material dating from 1974 to 1987. The organization's purpose, membership, governance, and activities are documented in the by-laws, meeting minutes, financial statements, correspondence, reports, and publications.


  • 1970-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1974-1987

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

According to the 1986 by-laws (Series 1, Box 1), the Women's Caucus for the Modern Languages (WCML) is an organization whose membership "includes any person with a professional interest in teaching and learning the modern languages or in administering modern language programs or other programs of special interest to women." In the 1990s, the organization’s purpose was added to the by-laws: "WCML intends to promote study and research in the status of women in modern languages, to elevate the position of women in the modern languages, and to further the common interest of women in modern languages." Advocating for equality in the profession is also a theme that emerges from a close reading of the WCML records. The WCML’s primary activity was and continues to be the sponsorship of session panels of professional issues concerning women at the annual MLA convention. The WCML earned a major victory when the 1978 MLA Convention was relocated from St. Louis, Missouri, a non-Equal Rights Amendment state, to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Editors of the organization's newsletter, Concerns, included the following congratulatory note in the February 1978 issue (Series 3, Box 4): "Many women were involved in achieving this change. This would not have happened if we hadn't started applying pressure at the '77 Midwest meeting at Iowa City and at the Chicago MMLA Executive Council Meeting. It's a clear win for the Caucus and one that we can be proud of."

Originally created in 1973, the Florence Howe Award was named after author, editor, teacher, and the founder of The Feminist Press, Florence Howe. Ruth Altmann, who served as Caucus President during this time, described the purpose of the award in the May 7, 1976 issue of Concerns (Series 3, Box 4), "to honor Florence Howe who has done so much in so many ways to help all women achieve equity, and to encourage women doing serious feminist writing in our field." Shortly after the second annual award cycle in 1975, some members challenged the competitive nature of the contest. The debate about the award continued through 1977 and is documented in Concerns, Correspondence, Executive Committee Minutes, and Annual Business Meeting minutes. By 1978, members agreed on guidelines which designated four areas of suitable essay topics: feminist pedagogy, feminist studies in language and literature, feminist theory, and the present state of feminist study. Alongside the call for essay submissions in the February 1978 issue of Concerns, the full list of award regulations was printed which explained that there would be one award with as many honorable mentions as the judges deemed worthy. Another WCML activity designed to support female scholars in the late 1970s was the Reader's Service which offered Women’s Caucus members the opportunity of having their papers read and critiqued by women in their discipline. Today the WCML leadership and its members continue to be an active force in favor of feminist scholarship and study.


3 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages records are arranged into four series. Series 1, General, includes administrative documents about the organization. Subsequent accessions received in 1999, 2000, and 2011 were interfiled into this series. Series 2, Correspondence and Memoranda, includes general correspondence arranged chronologically. Series 3, Publications, includes newsletters and journals arranged alphabetically by publication title and then chronologically. Series 4, May 2012 Addition, is organized in three subseries: Governance, Activities, and Publications. Arrangement was imposed during processing.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession 1993.16; 1999.08; 2000.50; 2011.20; 2012.24

Processing Information

LHD 1993; C. Boldenow 1999; JB 2001; K. Gosa 2011; J. Soltman 2015

Guide to Women's Caucus for the Modern Languages (WCML) records
LHD 1993; C. Boldenow 1999; JB 2001; K. Gosa 2011; J. Soltman 2015
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the DePaul Special Collections and Archives Repository

John T. Richardson Library
2350 N. Kenmore Ave.
Room 314
Chicago Illinois 60614