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Kayla Vaughan Papers

Identifier: A3238

Scope and Contents

The Kayla Vaughan Papers are comprised of leaflets, fliers, and brochures relating to a wide variety of local and national social and political groups and their activities; discussion readings, notes, and meeting minutes; conference and workshop materials; correspondence relating to professional and group activities; newspaper clippings; feminist publications, and legal papers and case filings. The papers are divided into six series: Personal, Gay Rights, Community Activism, Labor, Professional, and Women's Rights. The Labor series is divided into two subseries: Subject Files and Right to Work. The Professional series is divided into three subseries: Employment, Conferences, and Current Affairs Files. The Women’s Rights series is divided into four subseries: Conferences, Topical Files, Reproductive Rights National Network (R2N2), and Women’s Rights Action Group (WRAG). The papers date from 1962 to 2013; the bulk of the collection dates from 1973 to 1983. There are several date gaps: 1965-1968, 1986-1992, 1994-2003, and 2007-2010. Despite the number of series in the Kalya Vaughan’s papers, there is an intense interrelation within the collection. Interpretations of women’s rights in the mid-1970s and early 1980s broadened to include medical care, employment, racism, and gay rights among others. Feminists argued that women had the right to make all decisions regarding how they lived their lives. Therefore, Vaughan’s activities with one group often related to her work in another group, or perhaps the groups worked on the same project. For example, lesbians are represented within the National Lawyer’s Guild files in the Conferences subseries (Professional series), the Gay Rights series, and also in files in the Women’s Rights series. Please check the folder list and series descriptions carefully for multiple files relating to similar topics. The Personal series is the smallest series, consisting of only three folders arranged alphabetically by topic. It includes dance cards for the Folkhera Ball held by Vaughan and her housemates in the 1970s. They honored women from history such as Emma Goldman and Victoria Woodhull. There is also a mortgage burning party invitation to Thornapple House (3910 Botanical Avenue) and a 2011 memorial program for Lois Ann Levine. The final item is Kayla Vaughan’s resume dated approximately 1978. For a letter in which Vaughan discussed her sexuality, see the letter to Gail dated 4 August 1982 in the Reproductive Rights National Network (R2N2) subseries (Women’s Rights series, B7/f.29). The Gay Rights series is arranged alphabetically by topic and dates from 1975 to 1982. There are several newspaper clippings, brochures and publications from the National Gay Task Force, and papers concerning homosexuality and the law. Several items pertain to a demonstration planned in Joplin, Missouri at a book signing held for anti-gay rights proponent Anita Bryant. The Citizens for Human Rights organized a bus trip to take St. Louis gay rights supporters to the protest in Joplin on September 24, 1977. Items about the protest include the form letter from the Citizens for Human Rights; a business card for the Tiamat Press (a lesbian business in Maplewood, Missouri) which supported the protest; lyrics to a protest song written on the bus; a flier entitled, “We Are Angry, Not Gay;” and newspaper clippings (B1/f.4). The Community Activism series includes readings for local discussion groups, meeting notes, newsletters and fliers, a petition, a small amount of correspondence, and newspaper clippings. The series dates from 1977 to 1985, with one item dated 1964. The first portion of the series relates to the communist discussion group and is arranged alphabetically by topic. The final portion of the series is also arranged alphabetically by topic and relates to neighborhood groups and to political issues relating specifically to St. Louis. Items from the communist discussion group, which Vaughan referred to as the “Do-Nothing Dozen,” includes readings, notes on the readings and meetings, and correspondence. The group operated from approximately 1977 to about 1981 and had twelve members. It also had a women’s subgroup, which discussed matters specifically relating to women. In notes and statements on self-criticism, members reveal information about the group’s composition and its interests, which were local, national, and international. The communist discussion group’s international interest is revealed in a single page that explains the relationships among white and black groups before a St. Louis visit by Tapson Mawere, of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) Support Committee (ZSC). These groups included: Worker Unity Organization (WUO), Congress of African Peoples (CAP) later called Revolutionary Communist League (RCL), and the Black Military Resistance League (BMRL). Its final sentence reads, “The future of ZANU solidarity work in St. Louis hinges on the establishing of communist organization and its priorities.” Another page explains the formation of the St. Louis Committee to End Sterilization and its campaign against Washington University’s Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (PIEGO) (see also the Women’s Rights series). However, both pages are anonymous and undated (B1/f.10). An organizational proposal for the communist discussion group revealed that members were active with abortion rights group, the Hussmann strike, and advised that they take part in an aldermanic campaign. Such experience aided with organizing and allowing members to meet other activists with the end of increasing interest in a Marxist-Leninist presence in St. Louis (B1/f.12). The remainder of the Community Activism series relates specifically to the issues in the City of St. Louis and to redevelopment/improvement plans and city ordinances for the Shaw neighborhood and South Grand Avenue dating from 1982 to 1985. Most of the files contain newspaper clippings and newsletters relating to the South Grand projects. There is also some correspondence from resident organizations, such as the 8th Ward Neighbors, to which both Vaughan and Dennis Roach belonged. The groups opposed the ordinances and circulated a petition that resulted in a recall election of 8th Ward Alderman John H. Koch in 1984, which the alderman won (B2/f.2-10). In 1982, from March to October, the “Discussion Group around Political Issues Facing the Working Class in St. Louis” met at the Women’s Eye Bookstore (554 Limit Avenue). Kayla Vaughan, Laura Cohen, Dennis Roach, and Craig Doner comprised the group’s steering committee (B2/f.1). The small amount of material about this progressive group includes the proposal to form the group, notes about meetings, and letters distributed to an undisclosed mailing list about the topics, discussion questions, and logistics such as childcare. The group held discussions and had speakers, which included Katib Waheed, Laura Ann Moore, Mike McGrath, Linda Robertson, Vel King, Laura Cohen, and Dennis Roach. The Labor series encompasses Kayla Vaughan’s interest in issues related to labor and to her activism on behalf of American workers. It is divided into two subseries: Subject Files and Right to Work. The Subject Files subseries of the Labor series is arranged alphabetically by topic and dates from 1975 to 1982. It includes newspaper clippings relating to national and local labor topics, materials from the Great Plains Legal Foundation, a few items from the Committee to Promote Women in Skilled Trade, which worked to include women at Ranken Technical College, and materials from the St. Louis Area Conference on Occupational Health & Safety. There are many newspaper clippings, fliers, and meeting notes that relate to the strike at Hussmann Refrigerator (Bridgeton, Mo.) by United Steel Workers Local 13889. Kayla Vaughan worked with a committee to support the striking workers (B2/f.16). For a flier about a women’s contingent in the 1978 Labor Day parade, see the Community Activism series (B1/f.17). The Right to Work subseries of the Labor series is arranged alphabetically by topic/type of document and dates from 1962, and 1977 to 1979. This series relates to the Right to Work constitutional amendment, which appeared on Missouri’s ballot on November 7, 1978. Kayla Vaughan worked at the Missouri Public Interest Research Group Foundation (MoPIRG) and wrote pamphlets on the issue (B3/f.11). In this work, she amassed many state and national newspaper clippings and various publications about the issue, which was a nationwide campaign against organized labor. Vaughan also worked with the local Citizens Committee Against Right to Work (CCARTW), serving as recording secretary. Other officers included Wanda Baum (president), David Sallach (vice president), and Lois Barrett (finance secretary). The Professional series includes materials used and collected by Vaughan in her law career. The series is arranged into three subseries: Employment, Conferences, and Current Affairs Files. The Employment subseries of the Professional series is arranged alphabetically by topic and dates from 1973 to 2013 with some gaps. The files relate to Vaughan’s work as an attorney and to research conducted while at the Missouri Public Interest Research Group Foundation (MoPIRG). They include materials relating to two cases from the 1970s, Billie Jean Clay and Gerald Garrett, and to cases used for research at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in 2006. Items regarding the Family Protection Act and the White House Conference on Families relate to Vaughan’s work with indigent legal representation. The 1993 Ethical Society newsletter announced Vaughan’s judicial appointment and the 2006 program was from a legal talk given by Vaughan (B3/f.18). Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. sent two signed notes commending Vaughan after he appointed her judge in the municipal housing court (B4/f.3). The Conferences subseries of the Professional series is arranged alphabetically by topic and dates from 1974 to 1983. This subseries related to Vaughan’s membership in the progressive National Lawyer’s Guild (NLG) and to her participation in, and attendance at, meetings and conferences. Items included papers, publications, and reports from the NLG and also materials relating to the Women and the Law Conference held in St. Louis in 1975. Also found here are Vaughan’s notes, outlines, and resources used in her presentations on Right to Work (B4/f.8) and reproductive rights (B4/f.11) given at the 1978 and 1979 NLG Conferences, respectively. The Current Affairs Files subseries of the Professional series is arranged alphabetically by topic and dates from 1964, and from 1974 to 1991. Most files pertain to political groups on the far right such as Nazis and the St. Louis Coalition to Oppose Nazism (B5/f.3), the Ku Klux Klan and its segregationist allies in St. Louis, the Citizens' Councils, and to the New Right. However, there are also files about the U.S. intelligence agencies, grand juries, and a folder labelled “Various Crazy Religious pamphlets” (B5/f.7). Additional files pertain to general political news and social issues in St. Louis, Missouri, the U.S., and even Rhodesia. There are legal papers relating to a case concerning the Feminist Economic Network Corporation in 1976 (B4/f.18). It is unclear for what exact purpose these files were used by Vaughan. Possibly, she used them in her work with the Missouri Public Interest Research Group Foundation (MoPIRG), in her social justice pursuits with Right to Work and women’s rights, or in relation to the National Lawyer’s Guild conferences. The Women’s Rights series relates to Karen Vaughan’s membership with feminist groups, attendance and participation at conferences and protests, planning meetings and workshops, and studying books and articles related to women and their role in society. The series is arranged into four subseries: Conferences, Topical Files, Reproductive Rights National Network, and Women’s Rights Action Group. In December 1975, the U.S. Congress passed a law providing the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, which was created in January 1975 by President Ford’s Executive Order 11832, with five million dollars to organize a national IWY conference in the United States. The National Commission directed each state to create a coordinating committee to convene a statewide meeting. At each meeting delegates would be elected as representatives at the National Women’s Conference held in Houston in November 1977. Additionally, attendees at each state meeting would propose and pass resolutions to be considered in the national plan, which would be submitted to President Carter by the National Women’s Conference. Controversy erupted after it was revealed that Missouri’s thirty elected delegates were anti-abortion and anti-ERA advocates. Accusations of election fraud circulated. More controversy, and even a lawsuit, ensued when the delegates refused to submit the platform approved at the state meeting. The platform was pro-abortion and favorable to LGBT rights. The Missouri delegation attended the National Women’s Conference and voted against the more feminist viewpoints presented. However, the delegation remained in the minority and its dissatisfaction with the Conference’s adopted national platform led it to publish its own report, Report of the Suppressed Missouri Delegation (see MHS Library). Non-delegates were free to attend the National Women’s Conference and many Missourians did so, including Kayla Vaughan. Items relating to International Women’s Year in Missouri and to the National Women’s Conference include meeting packets, newspaper clippings, copies of correspondence, and various notes (B5/f.25-26, B6/f.1-3). After the United Nations declared 1975 to be the International Women’s Year (IWY), the University of Missouri -St. Louis (UMSL) Women’s Group formed the UMSL IWY Coalition, which planned the area’s first International Women’s Day (IWD) in March 1975. Various St. Louis groups began to organize their own IWD celebrations. Kayla Vaughan planned and attended several celebrations from 1978 to 1984. Her IWD files contain fliers, schedules, press releases, notes, and registration/attendance lists (B5/f.13-24). Notable is correspondence with Mary Bea Stout, president of Life & Equality, a self-described pro-life feminist group. IWD planners denied Life & Equality display space at the 1980 and 1981 IWD celebrations (B5/f.16). For more about IWD, see also the Women’s Rights Action Group subseries (B9/f.15-18). The Topical Files subseries of the Women’s Rights series is arranged alphabetically by subject and it dates from 1969 to 1988. The files include brochures, leaflets, various feminist publications and papers, meeting packets, notes, some correspondence, and newspaper clippings. Some feminist publications included are issues of off our back, Womankind, Mother Lode, and poems by women in the Weather Underground Organization entitled Sing a Battle Song (B6/f.13-14). While some files contain items based upon broad topics like sterilization and reproductive rights, most of the files relate to specific groups and events such as the Committee for Abortion Rights & Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA) (B6/f.9-10) and the 1983 Miss Universe Pageant held in St. Louis (B6/f.16-17). The Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA) and its St. Louis chapter worked to end sterilization abuse among poor women in the U.S. and abroad (B6/f.11-12, B7/f.4-9). In the 1960s and 1970s, population control, or overpopulation, became a frequently discussed issue in politics and international relations. Washington University received federal funding for the Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (PIEGO), which critics claimed taught doctors from third world countries how to perform sterilizations as part of U.S. foreign policy efforts in population control. The secrecy surrounding the project spurred speculation and criticism. In 1978, Vaughan participated in a petition drive to close PIEGO. For more on the formation of St. Louis CESA and PIEGO, see also the Community Activism series (B1/f.10, f.17). Many of Vaughan’s files reflect the opposing view from that which she supported to be well-informed on the issues. In June 1978, the National Right to Life Convention was held in St. Louis. Vaughn and her friends not only participated in an abortion rights rally during the convention; they attended the convention. Notes indicate that the group studied the convention’s schedule and determined who would attend each session and workshop. They took notes and made reports about what they learned to use later in the cause for women’s rights and published their findings in the August 1978 issue of Moonstorm: Lesbian Feminist Newsletter for Women (B6/f.23, see MHS Library for more issues). The Reproductive Rights National Network (R2N2) subseries of the Women’s Rights series is arranged alphabetically by topic and dates from 1978 to 1982. This subseries reflects Vaughan’s involvement with a national association which began as a non-organization brought together informally late in 1977 by the Chicago-based New American Movement. In February 1979, the coalition of local grassroots groups decided to form a centralizing national organization to support local efforts and coordinate strategy for a variety of issues. A brochure for R2N2 explains that it chose, “not to become a single issue organization because we feel the issues of access to childcare, jobs, and healthcare are inseparable parts of a woman’s right to reproductive choice” (B7/f.14). It also supported a woman’s right “to conduct one’s sex life as one chooses.” Kayla Vaughan worked with the St. Louis New America Movement on its Reproductive Rights Project (B7/f.28), served on the R2N2 steering committee, and was active in the Women’s Rights Action Group (WRAG) which became a member of R2N2. The R2N2 materials relate to regional and national meetings and conferences in 1981 and 1982, to Vaughan’s service on the steering committee in 1982 and 1983, and to a slide show produced by R2N2 on sterilization abuse and population control. There are conference packets; meeting minutes, agenda, and items for discussion; publications and brochures; and correspondence relating to organizational planning. The most private letter in the collection is connected to planning sessions for the 1982 National Conference. On August 4th, Vaughan wrote to Gail (no surname) and included a paragraph about her personal life in which after ten years as a lesbian, Vaughan found herself in a stable relationship with a man (B7/f.25). There are nine issues of the Reproductive Rights Newsletter, which R2N2 published. It included local, regional, and international updates; articles; and book reviews. In the Fall 1982 issue, St. Louis’ Arlene Zarembka contributed “Roe v. Wade Ten Years Later: Supreme Court Turnaround” (B7/f30). The Women’s Rights Action Group (WRAG) subseries of the Women’s Rights series is arranged alphabetically by topic and dates from 1979 to 1982. WRAG was a St. Louis group formed in the mid-1970s that worked locally to support women in several capacities. Materials include meeting minutes, member lists, and notes; readings and discussion notes; workshop materials; leaflets, brochures, and editorials; and some correspondence. The WRAG meetings files demonstrate the interconnectedness of Vaughan’s social justice activism (B9/f.15-18) more effectively than other portions of the papers and reveals the scale of WRAG’s work. Vaughan was deeply involved in WRAG and its mission, along with Arlene Zarembka, Lois Barrett, Nina Balsam, Peggy Nicholson, and others. The first paragraph of WRAG’s September 1980 draft organizational statement explained (B9/f.18): "The Women’s Rights Action Group is a St. Louis organization of women who are working to ensure that women have the resources and support services which are necessary for them to live the way they have chosen, whether that be married, divorced, single, extended family, with or without children, heterosexual, lesbian, or bi-sexual. Our concerns are those which touch the lives of women, such as racism, medical care, child care, employment discrimination, reproductive rights, housing, lesbian rights, and social and political repression." The organization statement’s inclusion of racism and medical care illustrates why WRAG campaigned to keep Homer G. Phillips Hospital open. Strategy ideas for the February 11, 1980, meeting further explain WRAG’s support of the hospital for its prenatal and maternal care services (B9/f.15). However, notes and correspondence indicate there were rifts among the groups campaigning for the hospital (B9/f.10). Other activities in pursuit of the broad strategy included workshops, presentations at local International Women’s Day celebrations and producing radio shows on KSD (55 AM). WRAG supported The Walk, a St. Louis celebration of lesbian and gay pride, on April 20, 1980. A leaflet shows that contributors to The Walk had the choice of supporting several services including The Women’s Self-Help Center and the Ad Hoc Committee to save Homer G. Phillips Hospital (B9/f.15). Dwayne Harrington was a child who died of health issues in a condemned apartment. His mother was charged with neglect by authorities. At its January 1982 meetings, WRAG decided to assist Ms. Harrington and discussed how to do so (B9/f.18). The group kept abreast of national and local legal matters relating to women’s rights. WRAG was a member of R2N2 and cooperated with the Freedom of Choice Council, which distributed WRAG leaflets. It also cooperated with Women Organizing Women (WOW), a Kansas City group (B9/f.16, 20). Acronyms in the Vaughan Papers: AAWO – Alliance Against Women’s Oppression (San Franciso) CARASA - Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse CCARTW - Citizens Committee Against Right to Work CESA – Committee to End Sterilization Abuse CLUW – Coalition of Labor Union Women ERA – Equal Rights Amendment FEN – Feminist Economic Network Corp. of the Feminist Women’s City Club (FWCC) IWD – International Women’s Day IWY – International Women’s Year ML – Marxist-Leninist MoPIRG - Missouri Public Interest Research Group Foundation NLG – National Lawyers Guild PIEGO – Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics PUL – Proletarian Unity League R2N2 – Reproductive Rights National Network RTW – Right to Work WORC – Women Organized for Reproductive Choice (Chicago) WOW – Women Organizing Women (Kansas City) WRAG – Women’s Rights Action Group (P.O. Box 24205, StL 63130)


  • 1962-2013
  • Majority of material found within 1973-1983


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, quote from, or reproduce material in this collection, please contact the Archives Reference Desk at Copyright restrictions may apply. The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright

Biographical Sketch

Kayla Vaughan grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and moved to St. Louis in 1969 to attend Washington University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1972 and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from the Washington University School of Law. Vaughan spent her career as an attorney in St. Louis. In the fall of 1976, Vaughan worked as a legal assistant for attorney Doris Black when Black defended Billie Jean Clay in the State (State Hospital) v. Billie Jean Clay. In 1977 and 1978, she worked at the Missouri Public Interest Research Group Foundation at Washington University. In late 1978 and 1979, she practiced law with Toby Hollander in the law office of Hollander & Vaughan. She served for several years as a housing staff attorney and family managing attorney at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. City of St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr., appointed Vaughan to his Committee on Education and later to judge in the municipal court’s environmental division in 1993. She retired from practicing law in 2007. While a student, Vaughan was part of the local lesbian feminist community. From 1972 to 1973, Vaughan lived in a feminist collective at 6188 Westminster Place with other students or recent graduates from Washington University. Its residents held balls dedicated to women from history, Folkhera Balls. In 1973, the residents established a rape crisis hotline on the third floor of the home. This hotline later moved to the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the YWCA and was the precursor to the St. Louis Women’s Resource Center. Kayla Vaughan became involved in a variety of progressive social and political causes as well as community issues such as city redevelopment in neighborhoods near South Grand Boulevard and the closing of Homer G. Philips Hospital. Prominent among Vaughan’s efforts was women’s rights. She was active in the Reproductive Rights National Network (R2N2) and St. Louis’ Women’s Rights Action Group (WRAG). Professionally, she was a member of the National Lawyer’s Guild. She worked for labor issues, supporting unions and striking workers. In 1979 and 1980, Vaughan joined eleven comrades in a communist intellectual discussion group. Her many activities illustrate the interconnectedness of political and social issues in the 1970s and 1980s. Vaughan married Dennis Roach, a fellow community activist, and had two children. The couple became active members of the Ethical Society. Vaughan continues to be active with a variety of St. Louis social justice groups.


4.35 Cubic Feet ( (9 boxes, 3 oversize folders))

Language of Materials



The papers are divided into six series: Personal, Gay Rights, Community Activism, Labor, Professional, and Women’s Rights. The series are arranged alphabetically.

Physical and Technical Requirements

There are no physical or technical restrictions.

Donor Information

The collection was donated by Kayla Vaughan in 2020 (accession number 2020-031) and 2023 (accession number 2023-022).

Related Materials

See also see the Kayla Vaughan Image Collection (P1137) and several items in the Object Collections.

Separated Materials

Publications transferred to the MHS Library include: The Mindszenty Report (Saint Louis, Mo.: The Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation). Five issues: Vol. XVII No.12 (Dec 1975), Vol. XIX No.7 (July 1977), Vol. XX No.1 (Jan 1978), Vol. XX No.3 (Mar 1978), Vol. XX No.6 (June 1978). Labor’s Stake in the Fight Against “Right to Work” by Paddy Quick, circa 1978. A Year In my Head, A Hole In my Life by Ros (Roslyn) Leiser (St. Louis: Moonstorm, Wellston Station) (photocopy) 1972. Report and Recommendations of the Missouri State Meeting In Observance on International Women’s Year, (St. Louis), June 3-5, 1977. Report of the Suppressed Missouri Delegation to the National Women’s Conference, Nov 18-21, 1977. Citizens Informer newspaper (Overland, Missouri). Five issues: Vol. 10 Number 4, Summer 1978; Vol.12, Number 4, July/Aug 1980; Vol.12, Number 5, Sept/Oct 1980; Vol.14, Number 14, July/Aug 1982; Vol.15, Number 1, Jan/Feb 1983 St. Louis Labor Tribune newspaper. Two issues: 26 Oct 1978, 21 Dec 1978/Vol.41 Number 19. The Worker: For the St. Louis Area newspaper, Oct 1978: Vol.1 No.2.

Sources Consulted During Processing

1. Izzo, Amanda L. and Looker, Benjamin, editors. Left in the Midwest: St. Louis Progressive Activism in the 1960s and 1970s. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2022. (MHS Library StL/323.1/L495) 2. International Women’s Year Collection (S0228), The State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-St. Louis. Louis ( 3. Reproductive Rights National Network Records, Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History, Smith College ( 4. National Lawyers Guild Records, Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive, New York University (

Processing Information

Processed with funding from The Stuart Foundation, Inc. by Kristina Perez, 2023.


Kayla Vaughan Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center Repository

225 S. Skinker Blvd.
St. Louis MO 63105 United States