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Willner, Dorothy Consumer movement
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Dorothy K. Willner papers

  • Collection
  • 1974-1986

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.

Willner, Dorothy