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Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

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Collection Overview
Name of Creator:Ryan, Phyllis M., 1927-1998.
Title:Phyllis M. Ryan papers
Date:1959-1988 (bulk 1961-1988)
Reference Code:M94
Location Code:63/1
Extent:10.45 cubic ft. (11 boxes)
Scope and Content Abstract:This collection documents the work of activist Phyllis M. Ryan and the social justice causes with which she was active from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, including civil rights, housing discrimination, racial imbalance in local schools and school desegregation, prison reform, welfare reform, interfaith relations, and disability rights, with an emphasis on the Boston area. Especially well documented organizations include the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Fair Housing Federation of Greater Boston. Personal papers such as resumes and speeches suggest the breadth of her work, and substantial clippings indicate the contemporary events of interest to her. Ryan's work in New Haven, Connecticut during the late 1960s is sparsely documented.
Historical Abstract: Phyllis Milgroom Ryan (1927-1998) began her career as a political activist while a student at Northeastern University. Following her graduation from Northeastern University in 1950, she worked as a psychiatric social worker in the Massachusetts state mental health system. In 1951, she married William J. Ryan, Jr. with whom she shared a passion for social justice and collaborated in political action for the next several decades. By the early 1960s Phyllis M. Ryan served as a media advisor and public relations coordinator for various Massachusetts chapters of several civil rights organizations. In addition to her work for civil rights groups, Ryan was also active in encouraging Jewish-Christian relations. She was a key strategist, organizer, and publicist of the prison reform movement during the 1970s. With her husband, she was also an active advocate of welfare rights. After she became bed-ridden in the late 1970s with a severe case of progressive multiple sclerosis, Ryan successfully convinced the city of Newton to make its public lake wheelchair accessible.
Language and Scripts: Materials entirely in English.
Arrangement:Organized into three series: 1. Personal; 2. Social Justice and Political Activities; and 3. Clippings.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Ryan, Phyllis M., 1927-1998
  • Dukakis, Michael S. (Michael Stanley), 1933-
  • Jones, Hubert
  • Volpe, John A.
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.) -- Class of 1950

  • Congress of Racial Equality
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Fair Housing Federation of Greater Boston

  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century
  • United States -- Race relations
  • Race discrimination -- United States
  • Prisons -- Massachusetts
  • Prisons -- Law and legislation
  • Corrections -- Massachusetts
  • Welfare rights movement -- United States
  • African American politicians
  • African Americans -- Politics and Government
  • Politicians -- Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts -- Politics and Government
  • Presidential Candidates -- United States
  • Judaism -- Relations -- Christianity
  • Religions -- Relations
  • Discrimination in housing -- United States
  • Segregation -- Massachusetts -- History
  • School integration -- Massachusetts -- History
  • People with disabilities -- Civil rights -- United States
  • People with disabilities -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States
  • People with disabilities -- United States
  • Women political activists -- United States

Restrictions:The collection is unrestricted.
Copyright:Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.
Processor:Finding aid prepared by Paige Roberts, October 2003