Dorothy K. Willner papers, 1974-1986
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Brief Description:

The Dorothy Willner Papers (1974-1986) consists primarily of correspondence, reports, and conference material pertaining to Willner's fostering of a relationship between the International Organization of Consumer Unions (IOCU) and the United Nations. The papers have been arranged to reflect Willner's interaction between these two organizations and the issues their members faced during this transitional period in consumer advocacy.

The collection is organized into five series: 1) IOCU Files; 2) Publications; 3) United Nations Files; 4) Subject Files; 5) Oversized Material.

The IOCU Files Series consists of three boxes of correspondence, reports, and event material relating to the issues Dorothy Willner regularly managed as a representative of the IOCU. While the collector's name appears on few of these documents, the accumulated contents of letters addressed to her and Florence Mason as well as Willner's hand-written notes are the centerpiece of the collection, illustrating the service Willner and IOCU provided period grass roots organizations throughout the world with access to research, media attention, regional coordination with other consumer group, and representation on the international level.

Some files include correspondence between leading consumer advocates Colston Warne and Esther Peterson. Other files include reports on the March 1979 World Health Organization (WHO) conference on the haphazard technical cooperation among developing countries in the field of health and the related 1981 WHO resolution on the quality and content of mass produced infant formula. Other files contain Willner's notes on correspondence with members, meetings with international representatives, and conference talks. The series also contains newspaper clippings and research, which likely served as briefing material for Willner.

The Publications Series spans two boxes and collects pamphlets, newsletters, digests, reports, and booklets. These imprints were produced by a wide of assortment of international groups in several languages and by the United Nations on business practices and consumer issues. Some of the periodicals collected by Willner include Que Choisir?, Utusan Konsumer, Warta Konsumen and Orientatcion de Consumidores y Usuarios. The series also contains a small assortment of publications produced by the United States Consumer Affairs Office, the Danish Government Home Economics Council, and the Australian Federation of Consumer Organization, Inc. Other files in this series also contain material related to the growth of international businesses and produced by different United Nations commissions, councils, and agencies, including the Center on Transnational Corporations, the Conference on Trade and Development, and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The United Nations Series consists of five boxes of memoranda, correspondence, press releases, critiques, conference material, and drafts of committee reports created by the international organization. While some files relate to the "Decade for Women" events, the majority of this series is centered on the United Nation's response to IOCUs consumer protection lobbying efforts. One section of the series collects the administrative work of several notable 1970s conferences, which covered issues relating to the creation of model laws as guards against restrictive business practice and the application of technology on international businesses and their consumers. Other files demonstrate the increased visibility of consumer issues in the General Assembly and the ECOSOC. Still others feature different drafts of United Nations reports, discussing the formation of both legal protection for consumers and an international business code of conduct for transnational corporations. Finally, this series also features guidelines for non-government organizations (NGOs) within the United Nations, including the IOCU.

The Subject Files Series spans two boxes and consists of newspaper clippings, memos, reports from other consumer organizations and Willner's own background research on a wide assortment of topics relevant to both IOCU members and United Nations administration. Several of the files are relevant to the growth of consumer unions in Asia. Others relate to fair trade issues, the creation of standards for foods and drugs, and the formation of a "Consumer Interpol" to act as a watchdog against abusive international business practices, including the use of Third World nations as "dumping grounds" for allegedly defective or untested medical devices, drugs, pesticides unpassable by western standards." Another contains material from the IOCU's October 19, 1979 dinner for American Consumer leader and IOCU motivator Colston Warne. Finally, a few files also contain research relating to the changing shape of United States unions and consumer laws in the 1980s, including the Consumer Protection Act and the United Auto Workers.

The Oversized Material Series collects in one box large documents and bound matter. The majority of the series includes material relating to the creation and development of consumer education in the Philippines. Researchers may find of particular interest Dorothy Willner's Asean Consumer Protection seminar discussing the measures under development at the United Nations to curb abusive business practices of transnational corporations.

Held at:
Morse Department of Special Collections
Email: libsc [at]
Created by: Willner, Dorothy (1927-1993)
Volume: 5.5 Linear Feet
Acquired: 00/00/1993.
Arrangement: The arrangements of these records reflect Willner's multi-tiered professional work on behalf of international consumers. They are organized in the following manner: 1) IOCU Files, 2) Publications, 3) United Nations (UN) Files, 4) Subject Files, 5) Oversized Material.
Biographical Note for Willner, Dorothy (1927-1993) :

1927        Born in New York, NY

1947        Graduates with a Ph.D from the University of Chicago

1950-1951    Awarded the Wenner-Gren for Ethnographic research in Ecuador on Technology and Social Organization of Highland Indians as part of the Heye Foundation of Museum of the American Indian

1952        Conducts Graduate Study at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

1952        Marries Sidney Willner, a lawyer who aided in the denationalization of the German coal and steel industry after the Second World War and postwar Hilton International Inc. partner

1953        Awarded Masters of Arts from the University of Chicago

1953-1954    Studies at the University of Paris

1953        Becomes an Instructor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Chicago

1955-1958    Serves as an anthropologist for the Department of Land Settlement, Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, Israel

1958        Serves as a Technical Assistance Administration Expert in Community Development in Mexico

1959-1960    Becomes an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Iowa, Iowa City

1960        Publishes "Community Leadership" for the United Nations

1960        The International Organization of Consumer Unions is formed in The Hague, including members from Brussels, London and New York

1961        Awarded a PhD from the University of Chicago

1961-1962    Serves as a Research Association at Research Center in Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago, Illinois

1962-1963    Becomes an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

1964-1965    Becomes an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York, NY

1966-1970    Joins the faculty of University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, as an Associate Professor of Anthropology; Granted tenure in 1967 and promoted to full professor in 1970

1968        IOCU adopts a new constitution, expanding voting members of the organization from the original founders to the entire membership

1969        Publishes Nation-Building and Community in Israel

1970s        IOCU creates a regional office in Asia, including an advisory committee comprising of  member from India, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji and the Philippines

1973        Contributes to Ronald Yelin Cheng's essay collection The Sociology of Revolution 1

974-1983    Serves as the representative of IOCU at the United Nations

1975        Attends the Trade and Development Conference on the control of restrictive business practices

1978        Manages the IOCU "A World in Crisis" Conference

1978        Attends the United Nations "The Decade of Women" conference

1979        IOCU hosts a dinner in honor of Colston Warne

1979        Participates in the World Health Assembly deliberations on the Code of Marketing Practices of Breast Milk Substitutes 1980s        IOCU advises regional offices and the United Nations to ban Clioquinol and Chinoform, used in travel medication, for alleged adverse neurological and gastrointestinal side effects

1981        IOCU establishes a "Consumer Interpol," a global network of correspondents who monitor  the marketing and sale of potentially hazardous products on local, national and regional levels

1981        Manages the IOCU Tenth World Congress on "The Food Crisis" and the "Consumer in a Shrinking World"

1981        Contributes to a World Health Organization Infant Formula Resolution

1982        With the assistance of IOCU's Consumer Interpol, the United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution for "protection against products harmful to health and the environment."

1985        After more than a decade of campaigning, the United Nations adopts IOCU protocols as the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection.

1990        Dismissed from the faculty of the University of Kansas for allegedly "failing to carry out  academic responsibilities"

1993        Dies, leaving her husband and two daughters, Karen  Ferguson and Denise Pavia, and a grandson

2005        Sidney Willner dies

Access Restrictions: No restrictions.
Subject Index
Consumer movement
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: The researcher assumes full responsiblity for observing all copyright, porpoerty, and libel laws and they apply.
Acquisition Notes: Sidney Willner (Husband)  Donation
PreferredCitation: Dorothy K. Willner Papers, Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.