UNOW & Then is an oral history project in collaboration with University NOW Day Nursery, Princeton University students, and community members. 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, with gender equality and anti-sex stereotyping at the program’s core. The nursery provided full-day hours so that women, especially single mothers, could attend college or work. The founders viewed childcare as a profession that performed valuable work—not simply as a “women’s issue.”
In 2020, UNOW will celebrate its semicentennial. Generations of Princeton families have sustained UNOW for fifty years. In some ways, it is still the child of its passionate founders. In others, it has evolved with the times. UNOW & Then has a rich story to tell.
UNOW Labor Relations
Liz Hagen speaks of tense labor relations between UNOW teachers and UNOW board in c1975.
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.
Striking a Balance With Tuition
In 1970, UNOW's weekly tuition was $28. UNOW Founder, Fran Benson, describes the tension between paying teachers what they deserved and keeping tuition affordable.
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. See excerpts from the reader (PDF).
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.
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. Hear from Victory Chase about play and teaching.
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.”