Agent of Change: Feminism in the 1970’s and 80’s (The Glory Years)

The 1970’s were an electric time for women as a resurgence of feminism swept across the country - 1975 was declared the International Year of the Woman and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was gaining momentum on the path to hopeful ratification (so close!) Fort Wayne was no exception to this surge. The Women’s Studies degree began at IPFW. Both the Indiana governor and Fort Wayne mayor established commissions to study and support women’s rights.

At the forefront of this Fort Wayne charge was Harriet Miller. She served on the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women and held regular public hearings to promote needed shifts in policy for workplace protections, equal pay and fair job opportunities for local women. She also founded and was the first director of the Fort Wayne Women’s Bureau whose mission was ‘to promote equality and opportunity for women'. This translated to helping women receive an education, handle crises, and start businesses and careers. She eventually moved the Bureau from city government oversight to the non-profit sector.

This wasn’t a smooth journey. Harriet is full of amazing stories of perseverance when receiving push back from our community as well as fascinating before and after historical knowledge that some of the younger among us may not fully know. And she has her own story of how she came to this work, trading her learned prescribed roles for the “fire in the belly” that she still has today. Her wisdom and wealth of experience make her a welcome addition to the Human Library Fort Wayne.