Catherine Shipe East

Catherine Shipe East

American feminist, sociologist and researcher.
Date of Birth: 15.05.1916
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Catherine Shipe East
  2. Early Life
  3. Career and Activism
  4. Later Life and Legacy

Biography of Catherine Shipe East

Catherine Shipe East was an American feminist, sociologist, and researcher. She was one of the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and held several important positions in the federal government.

Early Life

Catherine was born in Barboursville, West Virginia, to parents Bertha Woody and Ulysses Grant Shipe. She was the eldest of three children. At the age of 11, Catherine's mother suffered a severe nervous breakdown, and four years later, her father took his own life. Catherine became the de facto head of the family and had to search for work. However, options for employment for women were limited at that time. She considered becoming a teacher, but she was unable to complete her education at Marshall College due to financial constraints.

Career and Activism

In 1937, Catherine married Charles East, and in 1939, she secured a position in the U.S. Civil Service Commission. Her financial situation gradually improved, and in 1943, she even obtained a bachelor's degree. Catherine quickly adapted to her role in the government committee, starting as a junior auditor and eventually rising to the position of department head.

By 1977, Catherine was working in the Department of Labor. She later became a technical advisor to the President's Commission on the Status of Women and participated in the research project "American Women." During President Kennedy's administration, she served as the executive secretary for both the Interdepartmental Committee on the Status of Women and the Citizen's Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Catherine played a crucial role in providing government support and secrets to American feminists. She strongly believed in the need for a strong working organization for women, comparable to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It was Catherine who convinced Betty Friedan to establish the National Organization for Women, a movement capable of influencing the government.

After leaving government service in 1977, Catherine could fully focus on her work in the feminist movement. She played a significant role in the advancement of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted equal voting rights to men and women in Virginia. Catherine also participated in John Anderson's presidential campaign, where she was responsible for addressing the "women's question." From 1979 to 1983, she served on the board of the National Organization for Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Later Life and Legacy

Catherine spent a significant portion of her life in Arlington, Virginia. In early 1996, she moved to Ithaca, New York, to be closer to her youngest daughter. Catherine Shipe East passed away on August 17, 1996. Her contributions to feminism and her advocacy for women's rights continue to impact society today.