Helping Women Achieve Their Full Stature: Feminism and the NCCW

The National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) was established in 1920 as a federation of Catholic women's organizations. Dr. Mary J. Henold, associate professor of history at Roanoke College, researched the group expecting to find a traditional organization opposed to any feminist ideology. Much to her surprise, she discovered instead an organization seeking to implement the changes set forth in Vatican II. The women of NCCW "tried on many new ways of looking at the world in the decade following the Council." Henold argues that the 50th anniversary report by NCCW executive director Margaret Mealey in 1970 best exemplifies this change in organizational direction, and proves that feminist thought was not shunned by the organization as once believed.