Tish Sommers

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Letitia "Tish" Sommers (Cambria, California, 1914-1985) was an American author, a women's rights activist, and the co-founder and first president of the Older Women's League.[1][2][3]

Sommers was raised in Los Angeles and was originally a dancer.[3] After she visited Nazi Germany in 1933 to study dance and saw the suffering of the Jewish people, she became an activist; in the 1950s she was a volunteer for social and civil rights causes in the South.[3][4] With the help of her friend Laurie Shields, she successfully lobbied 39 states and Congress to pass displaced-homemaker laws, which offered a network of job training and counseling centers for career housewives who went through divorce or the death of a husband.[3][4] Sommers coined the phrase "displaced homemaker."[2] She chaired the National Organization for Women's Task Force on older women in the 1970s (it was formed in 1973); she was also a NOW Board member and led the Jobs for Older Women Action Project.[2][3][5] She cofounded the Older Women's League with Laurie Shields in 1980, and was its first president.[1][4] She died of cancer in 1985 at age 71.[3] Some of her papers are held as "The Tish Sommers Papers", at the Special Collections Library in San Diego State University.[5] The Institute for Health and Aging established the Tish Sommers Senior Scholars program to honor her; it supports the work of older graduate and postdoctoral students working to improve the lives of older women.[2] In 1991, a biography of her was published titled Tish Sommers, Activist: and the Founding of the Older Women's League, by Patricia Huckle, Univ. of Tennessee Press.[6]


The not-so-helpless female: how to change the world even if you never thought you could; A step-by-step guide to social action, by Tish Sommers (1973)

Women Take Care: The Consequences of Caregiving in Today's Society, by Tish Sommers, Laurie Shields, and the Older Women's League (Nov 1987)


  1. ^ a b Borenstein, Audrey (1983). Chimes of change and hours: views of older women in twentieth-century America. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-0-8386-3170-6.
  2. ^ a b c d Love, Barbara J. (2006). Feminists who changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. pp. 434–435. ISBN 978-0-252-03189-2. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Tish Sommers | Older Women's Advocate Dies at 71: Tish Sommers Was Co-Founder of 15,000-Member Group". Los Angeles Times. 1985-10-19. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  4. ^ a b c "Tish Sommers, 71, Women's Activist". Chicago Tribune. 1985-10-19. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  5. ^ a b "Tish Sommers Papers". Online Archive of California. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  6. ^ "International Women's Movements". Rohan.sdsu.edu. Retrieved 2011-11-27.