Daly, Mary Papers

Span Dates: 1928 - 2013
Bulk Dates:
Volume: 76.147 linear feet (75 containers)


This collection consists of the personal and professional papers of Mary Daly. It includes correspondence, including fan mail; drafts and galleys of many of Daly's books; financial information; research files and subject files (on topics including students, colleagues and public figures); documents pertaining to legal disputes with Boston College in 1969 and 1999; personal files regarding topics like health and medicine, pets, automotive, and investments; books; and teaching materials, including course outlines, syllabi, and confidential student records. Of particular interest are Daly's fight with Boston College, her writing process, and her argument with Audre Lorde.

Hist/Bio Note

Mary Daly, a radical feminist philosopher and theologian who referred to herself as a Positively Revolting Hag, was born in Schnectady, New York in 1928, the only child of a homemaker mother and a traveling salesman father. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools. Early in her childhood, Daly had mystical experiences in which she felt the presence of divinity in nature. She received a BA in English from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY in 1950; an MA from Catholic University of America in 1952; and a Ph.D. in Religion from the School of Sacred Theology, St. Mary's, Notre Dame in 1954. Unable to find a school in America that would allow a woman to obtain a "canonical" Doctorate in Sacred Theology, she went to Fribourg, Switzerland, where the education was state-controlled and could not legally exclude women. There she received a Doctorate in Theology and a Ph.D. in Philosophy as well as a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. When she returned to the United States in 1966, she took a tenure track position at Boston College. Her first book, The Church and the Second Sex (1968) was influenced by a visit to Rome during Vatican II. The book, called a "searing expose of Christian misogyny, especially in the Catholic Church," critiqued the patriarchal structure of the Catholic Church and its detrimental effect on shaping women's lives and self-image. The book established Daly as a radical feminist theologian and a powerful voice of dissension, and Boston College fired her soon after its publication. However, amidst student protests and public outcry, Daly was reinstated and given tenure. She went on to teach at Boston College for thirty-three years and published seven more books: Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (1978), Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy (1984), Beyond God the Father (1985), Webster's First New Intergaliactic Wickedary of the English Language (with Jane Caputi; 1987), Outercourse (1992), Quintessence (1998), and Amazon Grace (2006). Daly regularly toured nationally and internationally, lecturing, speaking and teaching at over three hundred college and universities. In addition to her own work, Daly was connected to many other feminist scholars, theologians, philosophers, and radicals of her day including Adrienne Rich, Diana Davies, Andrea Dworkin, Artemis March, Sonia Johnson, Jane Caputi, Merlin Stone, Janice Raymond, Robin Morgan, Julia Penelope, Gloria Steinem, Roseanne Barr, Pauli Murray, Linda Barufaldi, and Emily Culpepper. Daly retired from Boston College in 1999, although she claimed she was forced to do so. She died in Gardner, Massachusetts in January 2010. See also her profile on this site.

Finding Aid

A finding aid is online.


This collection is held at Smith College. Address: Neilson Library 7 Neilson Drive Northampton MA 01063


Catholic (Roman) | Feminism | Author/editor | Women and Religion | Women's spirituality | Theology