U of M professor donates trove of materials to East Side Freedom Library

Should fill gaps in library's collection relating to women, feminism

As a young adult, Dr. Paula Rabinowitz started collecting various feminist journals, poetry chapbooks, pamphlets, books, and any other kind of material she could find related to feminism and women.

She said she understood as a young person how important it would be in the future to have a collection of the evolution of feminist thought. Now she has decided to share her collection with others by donating it to the East Side Freedom Library. 

Over the coming months, the library will be adding around 2,000 materials to add to its collection. The items will help fill gap in the library's collection when it comes to feminist materials and topics related to women, said library founder Peter Rachleff.

Rabinowitz is a University of Minnesota English professor, and said she used the materials for her research and writing over the years. She was active in the early feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s in various cities across the country.

"It's also important to document the evolution of political thought," Rabinowitz said.

When asked why she choose the East Side Freedom Library as the place to donate her materials,  Rabinowitz gave a number of reasons for her decision, including the fact she has been a long time friend of Rachleff and his wife, Dr. Beth Cleary.

"We were both interested in the relationship between class and culture," Rachleff said, explaining their friendship.

Rabinowitz also said she loved Carnegie Libraries and their architecture -- the Freedom Library is now housed in one of Carnegie's library, which was built in 1916.

The building previously was home to the Arlington Hills Library until it moved to it's new location at Payne and Maryland avenues. The Carnegie Libraries were funded by business man Andrew Carnegie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Carnegie believed in giving laborers access to books and knowledge, a belief Rachleff says is now held by the East Side Freedom Library.

Rabinowitz also said she wanted to fill the need for feminist materials at East Side Freedom Library, and she has found that most libraries don't want the older materials and books, or that many of them already have similar items. 

"It was kind of perfect for me to donate," Rabinowitz said.

Rachleff said they hope to begin to put out Rabinowitz's materials in March, in time for Women's History Month. 

Marjorie Otto can be reached at motto@lillienews.com or at 651.748-7816. 

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