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Gladys Chaney Wessels Papers

Identifier: MS-429

Scope and Content

This collection contains various media concerning the life of Gladys Chaney Wessels. A majority of the items are paper documents, but there are also photographs, films, books and scrapbooks. A large majority of the documents are from the years 1947 to 1980. The collection is arranged in seven series.

Series I, Personal Papers, includes items from the childhood and young adult years of Gladys Chaney Wessels, such as report cards, programs, and piano certificates. It also includes the passports she owned from the years 1953 to 1994 and her identification card from the War Department. Multiple drafts of Wessels' resume from throughout her life are located in this series, as well as the copies of her manuscripts and excerpts of drafts of these writings.

Series II, Correspondence, is comprised mainly of letters written by Gladys to her mother, Elsie Chaney, between 1947 and 1953. There are also letters written by Elsie to Gladys. Letters from her ex-husband, Phillip Wessels, are included, as well as some letters from Philip to Elsie. Lastly, there are a number of general personal and professional letters that have no apparent connection with other series. Undated letters, as well as excerpts from letters that cannot be reconciled with their other parts, are also included in this series.

Series III, Employment, is comprised of anything relating to the jobs that Gladys Chaney Wessels had throughout her life. A small amount of documents from her days in the military are included. The large majority of this series comes from her years at Wright State University. These items include forms, pamphlets, student papers and evaluations, correspondence, newspaper articles, and information about courses. There are also documents regarding her lawsuit, ranging from trial expenses, to correspondence to and from her attorney and from supporters, to pieces of evidence for the trial. From her years in the Yellow Springs School District, there is quite a bit of information regarding the film project that she produced, including budget sheets, correspondence, schedules, scripts, and documents. There is also a group of folders containing the small bit of information about the other jobs she had. These include correspondence, different forms and documents.

Series IV, Organizations, contains papers from both women's organizations and general organizations. This includes the local, state and national women's organizations of which Gladys was a part, such as the National Organization for Women, Ohio Women, Inc., the Miami Valley Women's Political Caucus, the Ohio Women's Political Caucus, the National Women's Political Caucus, and state and national groups for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The general organizations folders hold documents relating to the professional organizations to which Gladys belonged, such as the American Association for University Professors, as well as different projects around the Dayton area, including the Greene County Home Commission, the Miami Valley Manpower Consortium, and the Prison Illiteracy Program at Lebanon Correctional Facility. This series includes various pieces of ephemera relating to these organizations, including pamphlets, minutes, newsletters, correspondence, writings, newspaper articles, bylaws, and information about workshops.

Series V, Social and Political Issues, is comprised of informational papers relating to the different topics that Gladys studied. Most of these topics relate to politics and women's rights. These include sexual assault, abortion, child welfare, and women in the workplace. Also included are various pieces of literature about politics in the state of Ohio. There are three books in this series relating to women's rights and a small box of political pins.

Series VI, Audiovisual Materials, includes one videotape, an 8mm film and two magnetic film reels, as well as three 16mm films and six audiocassettes. There are also some photographs, ranging from the 1940s to the 1970s. These are nearly all personal photographs, but some relate to the aforementioned women's organizations. This series is being housed in the Special Collections and Archives Film Storage Area in the basement of the Medical Sciences Building.

Series VII, Scrapbooks, contains the seventeen scrapbooks in this collection. The materials inside these scrapbooks range from photographs to newspaper articles to correspondence and other small paper ephemera. The scrapbooks in box 11 were deconstructed and their contents were placed in acid-free folders. Others were unable to be deconstructed safely, so they are housed whole in boxes twelve and thirteen.


  • Creation: 1927-2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940-1979


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of Gladys Chaney Wessels

Gladys Chaney Wessels was born on September 28, 1922 to Newton and Elsie Chaney in the town of Hillsboro, Ohio. After attending Limestone College for two years, Gladys obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with minors in Art and English from the University of Cincinnati. She continued on to receive a M.L.S degree from Florida State University. Gladys married a Dutch man, Captain Philip Wessels, on October 10, 1952, in Yokohama, Japan, but divorced him in July of 1953. Her son, Kim, was born in 1954.

Gladys joined the military as the Director of Special Services during the Korean War, living in and traveling to many places around the globe, including Germany, Japan, and the P.O.W. Camp #1 in Koje-Do, Korea. After her time in the military, Gladys spent many years as an educator in both high schools and universities. From 1956 to 1958, she taught English, physical education and speech for two small high schools in Ohio, and from 1958 to 1963 she organized and directed the Pasadena, Gulfport, and Azelea Elementary Learning Centers in Pinellas County, Florida. In 1963 Gladys became the Director of the Instructional Materials Center at Wilmington High School in Wilmington, Ohio. She began to work in the Library Resources Center at Wright State University as an assistant professor and organizer of Instructional Services in 1968. After teaching in the library department for a few years, Gladys spearheaded the women's studies department with her seminar course entitled "Women in the 1970s." As part of this course, she brought to Wright State the founder of Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinem. This guest speaker brought much attention to Wright State, and, in particular, the up-and-coming women's studies department.

In the 1970s Gladys became very active in the feminist movement, on both the local and national levels. She was on the Fairborn, Ohio, committee for the National Organization for Women and was a founding member of the Miami Valley Women's Political Caucus. She served on the State Board of the Ohio Women's Political Caucus and was a Board Member of the Ohio Women's Coalition for the E.R.A. Gladys also served on multiple professional committees at Wright State University and in state and national organizations.

In 1975, Gladys Chaney Wessels filed a $2.7 million lawsuit against Wright State University, claiming that her denial of tenure was based on sexual discrimination. She lost the case three years later.

After her years at Wright State, Gladys became a librarian for the Yellow Springs school district. While working there, she directed and produced a film for the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act about the changing job roles in the future, especially for those who would choose a technical position over attending college. In the late 1970s, Gladys taught at Morgan Middle School. She also ran for Village Council in the city of Yellow Springs.


6 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Gladys Chaney Wessels Papers are comprised of documents, photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and audiovisual materials, all relating to the life and work of Gladys Chaney Wessels, a prominent educator and social activist in the Dayton, Ohio area. The papers include items from her personal life as well as the numerous institutions and women's rights groups of which she has been a part.

Statement of Arrangement

The Gladys Chaney Wessels Papers is arranged into seven series:

  1. Series I: Personal Papers
  2. Series II: Correspondance
  3. Series III: Employment
  4. Series IV: Organizations
  5. Series V: Social and Political Issues
  6. Series VI: Audiovisual Materials
  7. Series VII: Scrapbooks

Custodial History

Approximately 3 linear feet of material in this collection was collected by Professor Judith Ezekiel as part of her research and oral history interviews with Gladys Chaney Wessels. Professor Ezekiel's assistance was instrumental in facilitating the donation of this collection.

Acquisition Information

Wright State Special Collections and Archives accessioned the Gladys Chaney Wessels Papers in 2009.

Related Material

MS-176, Women, Inc. Scrapbooks; MS-249, Yellow Springs League of Women Voters Records; MS-40, The League of Women Voters

Separated Material

6 audio-cassette tapes, 1 8mm film reel, 2 seven inch reels, and 1 U-Matic Videocassette are stored in the Special Collections and Archives Film Storage Area located in the basement of the Medical Sciences Building.

Guide to the Gladys Chaney Wessels Papers (MS-429)
Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Koch, March 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA