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  City Hall Library Notes, March 2013

SPOTLIGHT ON: Women's History Month

By Christine Bruzzese

                    Doris C. Freedman

      Since 1978, the U.S. Congress has designated March as Women's History Month. This article focuses on Doris C. Freedman, a prominent New Yorker, active in cultural and civic affair for Women's History Month.

      Doris Chanin Freedman was born in 1928 in New York City, the daughter of Irwin S. Chanin, architect and builder. She received a Master's Degree in social work from Columbia University. Freedman was the first Director of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, when it was part of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. During her tenure, from 1967 to 1970, Freedman helped support and sponsor local artists, brought mobile theater and music programs to city neighborhoods, started programs to bring sculpture and murals to parks and neighborhoods. After leaving Cultural Affairs, Freedman continued to work with organizations such as City Walls and founded the Public Art Fund and Public Art Council. She was recognized for promoting legislation to legalize artists' residences in loft buildings in SoHo and for working with Municipal Art Society to save Grand Central Terminal.

       Freedman passed away in 1981, survived by her husband and three daughters. The Doris C. Freedman Award was established by Executive Order of Mayor Koch in 1982 to honor those individuals or organizations who help improve the public environment. Recipients have included Bette Midler, Friends of the High Line, Jeanne-Claude and Christo, and Edward I. Koch. Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Manhattan, located near Grand Army Plaza and Fifth Avenue was named for Freedman.

    Be sure to consult the City Hall Library catalog, biographical files and vertical files for more resources on women's history.

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