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Dorothy K. Willner papers


In 1993, Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections at Hale Library, Kansas State University, became the repository for the papers of Dorothy K. Willner through the cooperation of her husband, Sidney Willner. Originally educated and trained as an instructor of sociology and anthropology, Dorothy Willner served as the International Organization of Consumer Unions (IOCU) representative to the United Nations between 1974 and 1983. She contributed to the consumer movement's transition from a 1960 resource pool of product test data, legislation, and marketing practices to an international advocacy group for international consumer rights. Willner's efforts eventually led to the monitoring of transnational corporations for potentially abusive business practices and United Nation's recognition of several IOCU initiatives as international law.

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.

The Willner Papers provide an in-depth perspective on the relationship between local and national consumer causes and the process of crafting international law. While some documents cover the daily administrative paperwork and correspondence during Willner's tenure at IOCU, other sections examine the non-governmental organization's period initiatives and long-term goals on behalf of consumer rights organizations against international/transnational corporations. The collection includes a wide assortment of pamphlets and booklets in several languages, which describe consumer activities in Germany, Greece, Norway, the United States, and other countries. Similarly, the records emphasize the increased influence of Asian-based consumer union activities in the 1980s on the international community. Documents created by several organs of the United Nations are, likewise, prominently featured in the collection, including the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Science and Technology Commission, and the Industrial Development Organization. Finally, researchers will find of particular interest Willner's Subject Files, which illustrate the interconnectedness of different consumer issues between different local consumer issues with national unions and their international representation.

The Dorothy Willner Papers have been assigned Accession Number: P1993.11. Processing of the collection was completed by Paul A. Thomsen in January, 2010


1927         Born in New York, NY

1947         Graduates with a Ph.B 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
1959-1960    Becomes an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Iowa, Iowa
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

1974-1983    Serves as the representative of IOCU at the United Nations

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

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 of cancer of the small intestine, leaving her husband and two daughters, Karen
             Ferguson and Denise Pavia, and a grandson

2005         Sidney Willner dies of pneumonia

Scope and Contents

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.

Container List

Box  Folder

Series I International Organization of Consumer Union Files

             International Organization of Consumer Unions Administrative Files

01   01      Address List
     02      Agenda
     03      Conference, 1981
     04      Constitution and Membership
     05      Consumer Education Program
     06-07   Consumer Movement 
     08      Consumer Protection, General
     09-10   Correspondence, 1974-1978                 
     11      Correspondence, 1976
     12-13   Correspondence, 1976-1978  
     14      Correspondence, 1978
     15      Correspondence, 1978-1979
     16      Correspondence, 1979-1980
     17      Correspondence, 1981-1982
     18      Correspondence, 1982
     19      Correspondence, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), 1977-1982 
     20        1983
     21      Correspondence, Miscellaneous 
     22      Correspondence, Non-Government Organization

             IOCU Event Material and Reports

02   01      33rd Meeting Agenda
     02      ECOSOC Memoranda, 1978-1981
     03      Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Consultation
     04      Executive Meeting, April, 1976
     05      Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW)
     06      International Consumer Representation
     07      International Working Group (IWG) on Transnational Corporations, 1978-1979
     08      Florence Mason Correspondence, 1974-1975
     09        1975-1980
     10        1977-1980
     11      Memoranda, 1975-1978
     12      Meeting Notes
     13      Notes and Clippings, 1976-1981
     14      Notes and Clippings, 1977-1979
     15      Notes, Miscellaneous
     16      Register of Complaints
     17      United Nations NGO Status
     18        Research, Miscellaneous
     19        Transnational Corporations
     20      Annual Report, 1979
     21      Booklets
     22      Conference, Mediterranean Consumer Proceedings, 1977
     23      Conference, Briefing Book, Ninth World Congress, London, 1978
     24      Conference, Report, "The Energy Crisis" Ninth World Congress, London, 1978

             IOCU Event Material and Reports

03   01      Conference, "A World Crisis" 1978
     02      Conference, Report, "The Food Crisis"
     03        Bibliography
     04        Program, Consumer in a Shrinking World, Tenth World Congress, 1981 
     05        Background Reader, Tenth World Congress, 1981
     06      Conference, 1981
     07      Conference, Aging, Vienna, July-August, 1982 
     08      "Energy Crisis" Bibliography
     09      Council Meeting, 29, June 25, 1981
     10      Digest, 1-8
     11      Guide Books, General
     12      Information Kit
     13      Model Environmental Regulation Report 
     14      Report, "Comparative Testing Guide"
     15      "Consumer Interpol" Draft
     16      International Consumer, 1976
     17      "Multinationalists and the Consumer Interest", Peter Goldman
     18      1978-1981
     19      "Forty-Four Problem Drugs"
     20      "Joint Testing Guidelines"
     21      "Library Review"
     22      "Model Environmental Regulations"
     23      Seminar "The Law and the Consumer"
     24      Seminar Papers 
     25      Seminar, Asean Consumerism
     26      Seminar, Asia and Pacific Region, 1978
     27      Seminar, Program, Asean Consumer Protection, 1980
     28      Program, Madrid, 1979
     29      Seminar Report, Consumer Testing and Research Training Course, 1980
     30      Seminar
     31      Notes
     32      UNECOSOC 34th Executive Meeting Packet, 1981
     33      Women's Year Conference

Series II Publications

             General Publications

04   01      ABC del Consumidor
     02      Australian Consumers Association
     03      Australian Federation of Consumer Organization, Inc.
     04      Boletin del Consumidor
     05      Bureau of European Consumer Unions
     06      Citizens' Alliance for Consumer Protection Journal
     07      Consommateurs Actualite, 1979
     08      Consumer
     09      Consumer Association Testing and Research
     10      Consumer Council
     11      Commission of the European Communities
     12      Journal of Consumer Policy
     13      Contacts
     14      Danish Government Home Economics Council
     15      Don Consumidon
     16      Forbruker Rapporten
     17      Greek Language Publications 
     18      Instituto Nacional del Consumidor
     19      International Organization for Standardization
     20      Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Means of Consumer Protection, 1975
     21-22   Miscellaneous Booklets 
     23      Miscellaneous Newsletters
     24      New York State Consumer Protection Board 
     25      Norway Consumer Reports
     27      Orientatcion de Consumidores y Usuarios
     28-29   Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 
     30      Que Choisir?
     31      Revisita del Consumidor
     32      Transnational Perspective
     33      United States Consumer Affairs Office
     34      United States Food and Drug Administration Rules and Regulations
     35      Utusan Konsumer
     36      Valve
     37      Warta Konsumen (Digest) 
     38      Warta Konsumen (Newletters)

             United Nations Publications/United Nations General Files 

05   01      United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations
     02      United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
     03      Decade for Women Conference
     04      Economic and Social Council Reports
     05      Report on Transnational Corporations
     06      "Rural Water Supply Hand Pumps Project", World Bank
     07      Miscellaneous Booklets
     08      Miscellaneous Publications
     09      Model Law on Restrictive Business Practices
     10      "Transnational Corporations in South Africa and Namibia" Volume I 

Series III United Nations Files 

     11      Agendas, 1974-1978 
     12      Correspondence, 1976-1977
     13      Coordination
     14      Consumer Protection
     15      Decade for Women
     16      Consumer Protection 

             United Nations General Files

06   01      Conference, Model Law on Restrictive Business Practices
     02      Conference, Role of Industrial Property System in the Transfer of Technology
     03      Conference, Trade and Development, Control of Restrictive Business Practices, 1975
     04      Conference, Trade and Development Reports and Memos, 1976, 1978
     05      General Assembly, Lima Programne for Mutual Assistance and Solidarity
     06      General Assembly Preparations for Science and Technology Conference, 1978
     07      Multinational Charters
     08      Press Releases, 1977-1978
     09        1978
     10      Reports and Critiques, 1985
     11      Restrictive Business Practices
     12      Science and Technology Report Drafts and Notes, 1978-1979
     13        Preparation Committee

             United Nations ECOSOC
07   01      ECOSOC Committee Reports, 1981
     02        Consumer Protection Activities
     3         Consumer Protection, International Cooperation Memos, 1981
     4         Consumer Protection Draft Report, 1981
     5         Consumer Protection Reports
     6         Consumer Protection Legal Measures
     7         Consumer Unions and Codes of Conduct for Transnational Corporations
     8         Journal of the Economic and Social Council, Meeting Program
     9         Meeting Summaries, 1977
     10        Non-governmental Organization, 1975-1977
     11        Notes
     12        Reports, 1971-1972
     13           1977
     14           1982
     12           1982-1983
     15        Restrictive Business Practices
     16      ESCAP Consumer Protection Conference Preparations Reports and Agendas
     15      Transnational Corporations Agenda, 1976-1979
     16        Code of Conduct Clippings

08   01      Transnational Corporations Code of Conduct, Drafts and Memos 
     02        Code of Conduct , Miscellaneous
     03        Code of Conduct Report, 1976
     04        Committee Memos, 1976
     05        Drafts, 1978
     06        Information Systems Creation
     07        Meeting Records, 1977-1985
     08        Report, 1980
     09        Report Drafts
     10        Report, "International Code of Conduct on Transfer of Technology," 1975
     11        Reports and Comments, 1980
     12        Reports and Press Releases, 1979
     13        Region Specific Memos, 1974-1984
     14        Supplement Reports, 1980-1983
     15        Notes     

             United Nations General Files/Subject Files

09   01      Women, Conference Reports, Foreign Languages, 1978
     02      Women's Status Memos, 1978
     03      Women's Decade Memos, 1978
     04      Work of the Council, Reports

Series IV Subject Files

     05      Asian Consumer Product Research
     06      Bangkok, Members Reference Material, 1978
     07      Bureau Europ‚en des Unions de Consommateurs
     08      Colston Warne
     09      Consumidor Clippings, 1980
     10      Consumer Education Study (Spanish)
     11      "Consumer Interpol" Draft
     12      Consumer Protection Notes and Clippings
     13      Consumer Testing Seminar, 1976
     14      Economic Commission for Europe
     15      Fair Trade Practices
     16      Federal Consumer Protection Law
     17      Food and Nutrition Consumer Education
     18      Housing
     19      International Chamber of Commerce Research Pamphlets
     20      Industry and Trade
     21      Initiatives
     22      IOCU-United Nations Industrial Development Organization
     23      International Consumer Seminar Programs

             Subject Files

10   01      International Standards Organization 
     02      Korea
     03      Marketing, the Consumer, and the Law
     04      Miscellaneous
     05      National Consumers Institute Organization
     06      National Consumer's Institute Overview, 1980
     07      NGO Forum, Kenya Nairobi, 1985
     08      Norway Consumer Report, 1985
     09      Philippines Consumer Code
     10      Policy and Research analysis on Translational Corporations, 1984
     11      Testing Committee Agenda
     12      United Auto Workers
     13      US Consumer Protection Act
     14      Women's Decade Conference Research
     15      Women and Food Research
     16      Women's International Council
     17      Women's International Year
     18      Women's Year
     19      World Health Organization Food Standards Conference

Series V Oversized Material

             Oversized Material

11   01      Bonner, Raymond, Testimony, 1975
     02      Consumer Education
     03      Consumer Education in Food Nutrition 
     04      Philippine Project Case Study on Consumer Education in Food and Nutrition
     05      Philippine Research
     06      Philippine Reports
     07      Willner, Dorothy, Asean Consumer Protection Seminar "Transnational Corporations:
               08 Work in Progress at the United Nations"
     08      Yayason Limbaya Konsemen Summaries