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Bonnie Brown Papers

Collection Number: A&M 4511

Scope and Contents

Papers of Bonnie Brown, feminist activist and politician who served in the West Virginia House of Delegates. The collection includes biographical sketches in the form of resumes and vitas as well as facsimiles of entries in reference works. Other documentation of her political career includes newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and campaign ads and flyers. Her feminist activism is documented with materials from her work for the International Year of the Woman (1977) including programs, workshops, and other items she collected, some at the state level. Other materials are representations of Brown’s community activities with various colleges and universities and government agencies, including programs and other materials from workshops and conferences from ancillary events in support of women. The collection includes The Chronology of Women in the West Virginia Legislature (2009) which Brown spearheaded as chair of the Women’s Caucus and continued to assure that it was updated after she left the Legislature.

Of note is the Women's Repertory Theatre, which Brown founded in 1978, and the collection includes newspaper clippings, publicity, programs, and working scripts for the plays “Birds in a Silver Cage” and “Mothers, Myths, and Madness.” Brown acted in both plays. A few photographs of the Women’s Repertory Theatre are included as well as ones of women’s activities in the Legislature. The majority of photographs in the collectins are in digital files.

The collection includes 19 metal political and social commentary badges which promoted such women’s issues as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the National Organization of Women (NOW), banned books, abortion rights, and even a photo of West Virginia native PFC Jessica Lynch who was a prisoner of war rescued in Iraq in 2003. All of these feminist activity topics receive Brown’s attention in the contents of this collection.

Likewise, feminist issues are highlighted by the 8 t-shirts in the collection which range from political, “Mondale Ferraro;” to whimsical “Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society;” to social activism “WV Coalition against Domestic Violence.”

The collection also includes items digitized (circa 1944-2012, with the bulk 1960-1970s) and then returned to Ms. Brown. They include scans of scrapbooks beginning with Brown's first year in the West Virginia Legislature (1982-2012) and include photographs, programs, letters, and more; photographs mostly of Brown but including Bill Clinton, Robert Byrd, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Alan Alda, Madeleine Albright, and more; handwritten from her ERA work in Florida and Georgia; and other material.

An addendum of 2023 March 2 contains speeches by others about women's issues; clippings and timelines about West Virginia women and suffrage for women in the U.S.; feminist lyrics to be sung to popular tunes; and handwritten and typescripts of Brown's speeches.


  • Creation: circa 1944-2021
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1972-1985

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restrictions apply.

Researchers may access born digital materials by requesting to view the materials in person by appointment or remotely by contacting the West Virginia & Regional History Center reference department at

Conditions Governing Use

The donor of this collection has transferred rights to the intellectual property they created to the Center. For more information regarding permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Bonnie Brown represented the 30th district, Kanawha County, in the West Virginia House of Delegates. She was also active in the Women’s Rights Movement fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as well as other issue important to women. After she left the Legislature, she became the lobbyist for the West Virginia National Organization for Women (NOW).

Brown first became politically active in the 1970s and was an organizer for the ERA as well as civil rights in many states and on the national level. She was the chair of the Charleston Human Rights Commission and lobbied for women’s issue and civil rights issues such as the Martin Luther King Holiday. She first ran for office as a Democrat in 1982, winning her first election to the West Virginia House of Delegates by 12 votes. She served in the House of Delegates until 1988. She was later elected again to the House of Delegates (1990-1994 and 2000-2012). During her time in the Legislature, she chaired and served on important committees in addition to chairing the bipartisan Women’s Caucus. During the interim of the years she was not in the WV Legislature, she was a consultant (1994-1997) and as Executive Director for the South Charleston Chamber of Commerce (1997) and Government Relations (1995-1999).

She has received numerous awards from professional associations, civic organizations, and women’s groups. She is also known for organizing the Women’s Repertory Theatre in West Virginia in 1978 (now defunct) and acted in its plays. She received a B.A. from Morris Harvey College in 1972 and also studied at Oregon State University and the University of Idaho. Brown and her husband Gary have two children.

(Compiled from Ms. Brown’s vita and BallotPedia: the Encyclopedia of American Politics)


1.17 Linear Feet (14 in. (1 document case, 5 in.; 2 document cases, 2.5 in.; 1 flat artifact box, 1 in.; 1 flat storage box, 3 in.))

21.91 Gigabytes (707 files, formats include .pdf and .tif)



Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift and loan of Brown, Bonnie, 2021 July 07

Bonnie Brown Papers
Staff of the West Virginia and Regional History Center
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US