UNOW & Then

The UNOW Oral History Project

In the News

Children following behind teacher on the sidewalk carrying umbrellas. UNOW teacher Connie Danser leads her class through the rain in the 1970s. (Photo: Ronn Koeppel)After 50 Years, National Organization for Women Daycare Still Flourishes

Read the article in the Princeton Alumni Weekly.

UNOW teacher Connie Danser leads her class through the rain in the 1970s. (Photo: Ronn Koeppel)


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.


— Please help us by contributing your voice. 

Front door of UNOW

Celebrating 50 Years

Please join us for a gala (date TBD) to celebrate UNOW's 50th Anniversary. More information to come.

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.

Read the news article (PDF)

'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.

Woman sitting at table

NOW's Mrs. Elaine Showalter at the Nassau Inn Sit-on (1970) - Photo by Ed Pauly

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.

See excerpts from the reader (PDF)


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.

UNOW students 1975

UNOW students Austin Frakt and Ben Hohmuth, circa 1975. Photo by Anonymous.

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.”