Paula Kassell (b.1917) founded and edited New Directions for Women in New Jersey, the first feminist publication in the country.
In 1972, the publication took on the form of a mimeographed newsletter but quickly became a tabloid-size quarterly newspaper. It filled the need for no-nonsense reportage from a feminist perspective. At a time when women’s issues were not regularly or fairly covered in the mainstream press, the newspaper ran the state, national, and international news stories. It also featured book reviews, women’s history articles, and editorials. The concept for the publication grew from the initial seeds planted at a 1971 statewide feminist conference of the same name. Kassell coordinated the conference, which attracted 350 participants and covered political, legal, economic, and social issues affecting women at the time.
A women’s rights advocate all her life, Kassell joined the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. She was also a member of the Women’s Equity Action League and worked to integrate help wanted ads in local newspapers. From then on there were no more separate Male and Female ads. Following her long tenure as editor of New Directions, Kassell embarked on a new project as the United Nations representative for the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press. She also served as vice-president of the national association comprised of media women and media-concerned women.
Burstyn, Joan N. 1990. “Paula Kassell”. Past and Promise, Lives of New Jersey Women. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54795035
Kassell, Paula. 2006. Taking women in new directions: a selection of my articles, editorials, and book reviews in New directions for women. Washington, DC: Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/70199936
Questions to Explore
As the first feminist publication in the country, how did New Directions for women set a precedent for future feminist publications? What were some of its influences in other feminist publications?
How did Kassell’s publications support women of her time?
How was Kassell able to publish the New Directions for Women?
National Organization for Women. New Directions for Women in New Jersey. 1972. <http://voices.revealdigital.com/cgi-bin/independentvoices?a=cl&cl=CL1&sp=CDGGGIE&ai=1>.
Allen, Donna, Susan J. Kaufman, and Ramona R. Rush. Women Transforming Communications : Global Intersections. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 1996.
Levin Jay. 2012. “Paula Kassell Feminist Writer and Activist.(Local).” The Record (Bergen County Nj) (sept 13 2012): L06: L06–L06. https://www.worldcat.org/title/9206742732