UNOW & Then
The UNOW Oral History Project
UNOW & Then is an oral history project in collaboration with the University NOW Day Nursery, Princeton University students, and the Princeton community. Through audio interviews, archival research, contextual essays, and multimedia exhibits, the project will preserve and interpret UNOW’s first 50 years.
UNOW opened its doors in September 1970. Founded by the local chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and supported by Princeton University, the nursery has deep feminist roots.
UNOW’s founders had a radical vision for the time. Gender equality and anti-sex stereotyping was at the program’s core. The nursery provided full-day hours so that women, especially single mothers, could study or work. In addition, the founders hoped to empower the early childcare profession. Childcare was not simply low-paid work done by women for women. Instead, if society was to be fairer, everyone needed access to affordable, quality childcare.
In 2020, UNOW will celebrate its semi-centennial. In some ways, the school is still the child of its passionate founders. In others, it has evolved with the times. UNOW & Then welcomes the perspectives of all the families, teachers and university administrators who shaped the UNOW of today. In the coming months, the project will highlight the voices that make up UNOW’s inspiring story.
Fighting sexism in Princeton
Alongside the foundation of a feminist nursery school, the Central New Jersey Chapter of N.O.W. had other campaigns, too. One of UNOW’s founders, Liz Hagen, describes a 1970 sit-in at the men-only Yankee Doodle Tap Room of Nassau Inn.
'We will return'
Famed feminist scholar, Elaine Showalter, was president of the New Jersey Chapter of NOW during the sit-in of the Yankee Doodle Tap Room. The NOW activists convinced the Tap Room to admit women. Professor Showalter was also one of UNOW’s first parents.
UNOW Labor Relations
Liz Hagen speaks of tense labor relations between UNOW teachers and UNOW board in c1975.
UNOW's Teaching Philosophy
Thanks to UNOW’s pioneering founders, the ideals of equality and anti-sex stereotyping has always been central to UNOW’s teaching philosophy.
Dick and Jane Study
Parallel to the establishment of UNOW, NOW chapter members also analyzed early school readers. They noticed how ingrained sex stereotyping was in the classroom. Liz Hagen, one of UNOW’s founders, describes the project.
Weekly Tuition in 1970
Striking a Balance With Tuition
UNOW Founder, Fran Benson, describes the tension between paying teachers what they deserved and keeping tuition affordable.
Why was NOW interested in childcare?
Victory Chase, one of UNOW’s first teachers, explains why the National Organization for Women wanted to set up a non-sexist nursery school.
What Made 1970s UNOW Unique for Teachers
Victory Chase, one of UNOW’s first teachers, describes the collaborative teaching environment of the early 1970s. “There wasn’t anything like it in Princeton. We were conscious of everything we did as being possibly norm-setting.”