Laura X

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Laura X
Laura X at home, February 28, 2022
Laura Rand Orthwein, Jr.

1940 (age 83–84)
Other namesLaura Shaw Murra (legal name)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Organization(s)Women's History Research Center
National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape
Known forActivism against date and marital rape

Laura X (born Laura Rand Orthwein, Jr., 1940) is a women's rights advocate. Laura X changed her name in 1962 to Laura Shaw Murra, which remains her legal name. She took the name Laura X on September 17, 1969, to symbolize her rejection of men's legal ownership of women and the anonymity of women's history, which she said was stolen from women and girls.[1] She declared that, like Malcolm X, "I don't want to have my owner's name, either."[2]

Education and background[edit]

After attending Vassar College for three years, Orthwein moved to New York City, became a Head Start Program teacher in the pilot program, having trained at the University of Puerto Rico. She also rose to Picket Captain in CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), attended New York University (NYU), and took graduate courses at Bank Street College of Education. Following her interests and research developed at Vassar College,[3] she worked with the American Committee on Africa to welcome delegates from 17 newly independent states, 16 from Africa, join the UN and to picket Chase Manhattan Bank about their investments in South Africa. In 1963, she moved to Berkeley, California, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley (UC-Berkeley), in 1971, having participated in the Free Speech Movement as well as other social justice movements.[4] She participated in, and documented, 21 other social movements until 2020.[2]

Women's History Research Center[edit]

Laura X is the founder and was the director of the Women's History Research Center, in Berkeley, California, which was the first historical archive connected to the women's liberation movement.[5][4] Laura X founded the Women's History Research Center in 1968. She organized a march in Berkeley, California, on International Women’s Day in 1969; International Women's Day had been largely forgotten in the United States before then.[6] The march led to the creation of The Women’s History Research Center, a central archive of the women’s movement from 1968 to 1974.[7] Laura X also thought it unfair for half the human race to have only one day a year and called for National Women's History Month to be built around International Women’s Day.[8] The Women’s History Research Center collected nearly one million documents on microfilm, and provided resources and records of the women’s liberation movement that are now available through the National Women’s History Alliance, which carried on their ideas, including successfully petitioning Congress to declare March as Women’s History Month.[9]

By 1970 the Women's History Research Center was widely listed in early feminist publications. The Center put many of the early feminist writings on microfilm, making them available in libraries across the country.[5][10] The Women's History Research Center eventually closed, and its collections are now held in the women's history archive at the Schlesinger Library, which is part of Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and at other institutions.[10][11][12] The microfilm copies have been distributed through Primary Source Media/Cengage Learning to some 450 libraries in fourteen countries.[13]

Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press[edit]

In 1977, Laura X became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[14] WIFP is an American nonprofit publishing organization. The organization works to increase communication between women and connect the public with forms of women-based media.[15]

National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape[edit]

In 1978 the Women's History Research Center established the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape in Berkeley, California, with Laura X as director.[16]

Marital and date rape legislation[edit]

In 1979 Laura X led a successful campaign to make marital rape a crime in California.[16] She also acted as a consultant to 45 other state campaigns on marital and date rape, as well as collecting and maintaining documents about the status of exemptions from prosecution in rape laws.[16] Repeal of date and marital rape exemptions occurred in 45 states, in Federal and military law, in the laws of Guam and Puerto Rico, and the laws of twenty other countries.[17]

As the leader of NCMDR’s campaign against marital rape, Laura X appeared on dozens of local and national TV and radio shows, including 60 Minutes, The Phil Donahue Show, Seattle Today, Sally Jessie Raphael, Geraldo, the Today Show, CBS News, and the Gary Collins show.[18]

In September 1999 Laura X published her memoir "Accomplishing the Impossible: an Advocate's Notes from the Successful Campaign to Make Marital and Date Rape a Crime in All 50 U.S. States and Other Countries" in Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal. [19][20]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

As Laura Rand Orthwein, in 1959 she was Queen of the Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis, Missouri.[21][22]

In recognition of her achievements, Laura X received


  1. ^ admin. "VFA PIONEER HISTORIES PROJECT: LAURA RAND ORTHWEIN, JR". Veteran Feminists of America. Retrieved 2022-08-09.
  2. ^ a b "lauraxinstitute". lauraxinstitute. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  3. ^ Carol Jones Vernon, Staff Writer for St. Louis Globe Democrat - January 4th, 1961. Archives of the defunct Globe-Democrat are presently housed at Mercantile Library at University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL)
  4. ^ a b Caryn Neumann (14 December 2009). Sexual Crime: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-1-59884-178-7.
  5. ^ a b stephanie. "About the Archives". Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  6. ^ Bernikow, Louise (2005-03-02). "The Birth of Women's History Month". Women's eNews. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  7. ^ "1970: Reviving the fighting spirit of Int'l Women's Day". Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  8. ^ "Anniversary of Women's History Library/NCMDR". Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  9. ^ "Women's History in the Digital World 2015 – Ken Wachsberger's Blog". Ken Wachsberger's Blog. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  10. ^ a b "Women's History Research Center - Social Networks and Archival Context". Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  11. ^ "International Assembly of Women. Records of the International Assembly of Women, 1946: A Finding Aid". Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Women's History Research Center resource files". Rocky Mountain Online Archive. 1845. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  13. ^ X, Laura. "Opening the Info Vault: Preserving, Digitizing, and Funding the International Women's History Periodical Archive". Women's History in the Digital World. 3.
  14. ^ "Associates | The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  15. ^ "About | The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  16. ^ a b c ABOUT LAURA X, on the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape website
  17. ^ a b Renzetti, Claire M.; Edleson, Jeffrey L. (19 June 2008). Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence. SAGE. ISBN 9781412918008. Retrieved 15 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ "Who We Are and What We Do". Retrieved 2022-08-09.
  19. ^ Abstract of "Accomplishing the Impossible: an Advocate's Notes from the Successful Campaign to Make Marital and Date Rape a Crime in All 50 U.S. States and Other Countries," by Laura X, National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape website
  20. ^ X, Laura (September 1999). "Accomplishing the Impossible: an Advocate's Notes from the Successful Campaign to Make Marital and Date Rape a Crime in All 50 U.S. States and Other Countries". Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal. 5 (9).
  21. ^ "St. Louis Post-Dispatch 07 Oct 1959, page Page 1".
  22. ^ Lucy Ferris, "Unveiling the Prophet," Chapter 14, University of Missouri Press, 2005 ISBN 978-0-8262-1601-4
  23. ^ "A Library Shows There"s a. Lot About History's Women..." The New York Times. 1973-05-19. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  24. ^ "12 Women Who Did Something". Mademoiselle Magazine: 103. Jan–Jun 1974 – via
  25. ^ World Congress of Victimology (1981). "Proceedings of the World Congress of Victimology". Proceedings of the World Congress of Victimology. OCLC 649057809.
  26. ^ "About Laura X". Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  27. ^ "UMSL Women Trailblazers Award". Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2015-09-11.