Our very own Paula Kassell, one of the founding members of Morris County NOW, has been nominated to the New Jersey Hall of Fame for the Class of 2019-2020. Below is a brief biography. Paula was an inspiration to our chapter. A Veteran Feminist, she was the person who got the New York Times to use the designation “Ms.” You can read about that and more in her book: Taking Women in New Directions, Stories from the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement, 2008, Hudson House. Voting runs to June 30, 2020 at the following link: https://njhalloffame.org/2019-nominee-voting/;. For more information about the New Jersey Hall of Fame you can visit their website: https://njhalloffame.org/
Paula Sally Kassell
December 5, 1917—August 20, 2012)
On Monday, August 20, 2012, the world lost a pioneering feminist. Paula Sally Kassell was 94 years old when she died. She left behind a rich legacy of accomplishments and the desire for us to continue her work toward equality for women.
Within a year after the founding of the National Organization for Women (1966), Paula became a member. There were no local chapters at that time. Paula was a founding member of the Lakeland Chapter of NOW, one of two chapters meeting in Morris County in 1973. The two chapters, Lakeland NOW and Morristown NOW, began working together, and in 1980 they merged to become Morris County NOW.
As a member of the Women’s Equity Action League in the 1960’s, Paula worked to end the practice of segregated classified ads, “Help Wanted Female”/”Help Wanted Male”, in the local papers.
In 1980 Paula purchased ten shares of New York Times stock. As a stockholder she attended the annual meetings to raise issues of interest to feminists. Using this tactic, in 1986 she was able to get the Times to use the honorific “Ms.”, which it had refused to do even though other major newspapers were already using it. This became one of her most well-known accomplishments.
Paula was justifiably proud of her accomplishments in organizing feminists here in New Jersey. In 1971 she coordinated New Jersey’s first feminist conference, out of which came the publication of a feminist newspaper called New Directions for Women in New Jersey. Within three years the paper enjoyed national distribution, and “New Jersey” was dropped from the title. Paula was publisher and editor from 1972 to 1977. She continued to work on the paper as associate editor, then senior editor and then as a columnist. The paper continued publication until the September/October 1993 issue.
In April of 1994, several members of Morris County NOW began training to produce a public access cable television show. The first show aired in August, 1994. With her vast knowledge of feminist issues and network of feminists in many fields, Paula became a priceless asset to the show. From the beginning she attended the meetings of the Program Committee, many at the Travelers Diner close to her home in Dover, New Jersey, and was an unending source of ideas for show topics and guests. The show is still being produced and took the name “New Directions for Women” in the late 1990’s. Paula continued to be a resource up to and including the current season of shows.
In 2008, Paula published a book, Taking Women in New Directions, Stories from the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement. Her book chronicles her work and her unending struggle for women’s equality. She will surely be missed.
Resource: Kassell, Paula. Taking Women in New Directions, Stories from the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement, 2008, Hudson House ISBN 978-1-58776-895-8
THE NJ HALL OF FAME SELECTION PROCESS
The New Jersey Hall of Fame Selection Process
1. Residents of New Jersey are invited to recommend deserving New Jerseyans at any time, year round. Public recommendations will be taken into consideration by the selection committee when determining the top 100 nominees. Click here to recommend a worthy New Jerseyan.
2. The selection committee determines a list of 100 potential nominees by March 1.
3. The NJ Hall of Fame Academy narrows the master list down to 50 on or about April 1.
4. The public is invited to vote on the final nominations from on or about June 1- June 30.
5. The individual receiving the most votes in each category are automatically inducted.
6. The Board will then deliberate to determine who else should be inducted for that given year.
7. Voting closes and inductees are announced in the spring.
8. Honorees will be formally inducted in a virtual red carpet ceremony in October. Click here to learn more about sponsorships for the induction ceremony.
NOTE: Official induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame is contingent upon the honoree formally accepting the honor at the Red Carpet Induction Ceremony within three years of the original induction. In the case of a deceased nominee, a representative would be required to attend in their place. As of 2017, Inductees must formally accept their honor in order to be included in the permanent NJHOF Museum.