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NOW's 47th Anniversary: Celebrating Its Founders and Early Members

On June 30, 1966, 28 women attending the Third National Conference of State Commissions on the Status of Women had had enough. The 1966 Conference delegates were prohibited from taking action even in the form of a resolution that recommended the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) carry out its legal mandate to end sex discrimination in employment.

Frustrated at the inaction, the group gathered in Betty Friedan’s hotel room to form a new organization. On a paper napkin Friedan scribbled the acronym “NOW.” Analoyce Clapp, an early NOW founder, wrote, "28 women met to set up a temporary organization for this purpose: To take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men."

By October, some 300 women and men had become charter members of the newly formed National Organization for Women. The slate of officers was elected including Betty Friedan as President, Aileen Hernandez—who had announced her impending resignation from the EEOC—in absentia as Executive Vice President, Richard Graham as Vice President, and Caroline Davis as Secretary/Treasurer.

In a 1966 report on the conference Friedan wrote: "We wasted no time on ceremonials or speeches, gave ourselves barely an hour for lunch and dinner...At times we got very tired and impatient, but there was always a sense that what we were deciding was not just for now 'but for a century...' We shared a moving moment of realization that we had now indeed entered history."

Today NOW has a membership of 550,000 contributing members set up for the advancement of women in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

VIEW the photo gallery above to meet the founders and early women of the National Organization for Women.