World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Catherine Shipe East


Catherine Shipe East

Catherine Shipe East
Born May 15, 1916
Barboursville, West Virginia
Died August 17, 1996(1996-08-17) (aged 80)
Ithaca, New York
Occupation Researcher, feminist
Spouse(s) Charles East (m. 1937)

Catherine Shipe East (May 15, 1916 – August 17, 1996) was a U.S. government researcher and feminist referred to as "the midwife to the women's movement". She was a powerful force behind the founding of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and held several influential federal government positions throughout her career.


  • Early life 1
  • Role in Government 2
  • National Organization for Women 3
  • Activism and awards 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Catherine Shipe East was born on May 15, 1916, in Barboursville, West Virginia[1] to Bertha Woody and Ulysses Grant Shipe. She was the oldest of three children. Her mother suffered a nervous breakdown when Catherine was eleven years old and four years later her father committed suicide. Considering teaching her only option at the time, she entered teaching school at Marshall College, but had to withdraw due to financial difficulties eleven credit short of getting her bachelor's degree.[2]

She married Charles East in 1937, whom she subsequently divorced; they had two daughters. In 1939 took a position with the U.S Civil Service Commission as a clerk. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1943.[3]

Role in Government

Catherine Shipe East began her career as a junior civil service examiner with the U.S Civil Service Commission in 1939. She advanced to become the chief of the career service division before going to work for the Department of Labor in 1963. She served as the technical adviser to the President's Commission on the Status of Women and participated in the research and writing of the commissions report, American Women, published in 1963. Subsequent to the release of this report, President John F. Kennedy created the Interdepartmental Committee on the Status of Women and the Citizen's Advisory Council on the Status of Women, appointing East to serve as executive secretary for both groups.[4]

National Organization for Women

Through her position as a government insider, Catherine East served as a foundational conduit of information for feminists across the nation. She believed that women needed a powerful organization similar to the National Organization for Women, in order to have an organization that could function outside of the government to create change in government policies.

Catherine East was part of NOW's first Legal Committee, along with [6]

Activism and awards

After retiring from government service in 1977, East became a full-time activist, working to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia and nationally and serving as women's issues coordinator in the John Anderson Presidential campaign (Nov. 1979 - Nov. 1980) and as legislative director of the National Women's Political Caucus (Oct. 1983 - Dec. 1986). She served on the board of the American Association of University Women, American Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters, National Woman's Party, and Planned Parenthood. She also received numerous awards, including WEAL's Elizabeth Boyer Award in 1983 for her "outstanding contribution to the advancement of women," and the Veteran Feminists of America Medal of Honor in 1993. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1994. A longtime resident of Arlington, Va., East moved to Ithaca, N.Y., in early 1996 to be near her youngest daughter. She died on August 17, 1996 in Ithaca, New York.[7]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Notable American women: a biographical dictionary completing the twentieth century, by Susan Ware, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  3. ^ Notable American women: a biographical dictionary completing the twentieth century, by Susan Ware, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  4. ^ From Suffrage to the Senate: An Encyclopedia of American Women in Politics, Volume 1, By Suzanne O'Dea Schenken
  5. ^ Notable American women: a biographical dictionary completing the twentieth century, by Susan Ware, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  6. ^ "Honoring Our Founders and Pioneers - National Organization for Women". Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  7. ^

External links

  • Papers, 1941-1995. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.