Paula Kassell (1917-2012)
Jersey gem: Founded New Jersey-based newspaper
Paula Kassell founded and edited New Directions for Women in New Jersey, the first feminist publication in the state and the country. In 1972, the publication took on the form of a mimeographed newsletter but quickly became a tabloid-size quarterly newspaper. At a time when women’s issues were not regularly or fairly covered in the mainstream press, the newspaper ran state, national, and international news stories, book reviews, women’s history articles, and editorials. It also filled the need for no-nonsense reportage from a feminist perspective.
The concept for the publication grew from the initial seeds planted at a 1971 statewide feminist conference of the same name. Kassell coordinated the conference, which attracted 350 participants and covered political, legal, economic and social issues affecting women at the time.
A women’s rights advocate all her life, Kassell joined the National Organization for Women (NOW) a year after its inception in 1966. She was also a member of the Women’s Equity Action League and worked to integrate help wanted ads in local newspapers—no more separate male and female ads. Following her long tenure as editor of New Directions, Kassell embarked on a new project as the United Nations representative for the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press. She eventually served as vice-president of this national association comprised of media women.