St. Paul, Minnesota, United States
|Known for||Women's rights activism|
Joann Aalfs was born in 1923 in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Bennington College in 1945, before studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. There, she served alongside her then husband in various Presbyterian ministries, in areas such as Salem, New York and Kasur, Pakistan in 1951-1952. Aalfs began, in 1963, organizing political rallies and social events with women in New Bedford, Massachusetts. At a local YWCA they founded the Women's Awareness Group, alongside a newsletter called Rough Draft, which told the stories of the women within the organization. She would proceed to work with the New Bedford Women's Center in 1972, Women and Violence from 1976–77, and the Southeastern Massachusetts University Women's Center from 1972-1978.
By 2004, Aalfs had come out of the closet as a lesbian and had begun organising to help other lesbians in New Bedford, Massachusetts and Northampton, Massachusetts. Her personal archives are in the collection of the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College.