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Esther Gelman papers


Esther Gelman papers
Gelman, Esther
Collection number:
1.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Esther P. Gelman was a member of the Montgomery County Council from 1974 to 1987, and its first female president. Gelman's papers reflect her political career and the issues with which she was particularly concerned, such as women's issues, human services, and the establishment of a Comprehensive Community Crisis Center in Montgomery County.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Esther Gelman papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Esther P. Gelman served a member of the Montgomery County Council, representing District No. 2, from 1974 to 1987. Throughout her long political career Gelman was an active advocate for the rights of victims of sexual assault and spousal abuse and helped improve human services available to residents of Montgomery County. Gelman was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1931. After receiving a B. A. in English History and Philosophy from the University of Colorado in 1951, she taught school for one year before returning to Maryland to begin her political activities. Following her election to the Montgomery County Council in 1974, Mrs. Gelman began campaigning for legislation to restrict smoking in public, which resulted in Bill 26-76 "Smoking in Public Places" and in her 1985 co-sponsoring of Bill 27-85 "Smoking in County Government Workplaces and Rail Transit Stations."

In 1982 Mrs. Gelman voiced her concern with the issue of comparable worth by introducing Bill 55-82, "Comparable Worth-Equal Pay for Work of Equal Worth." She continued her advocacy of women's issues in 1984 by sponsoring legislation designed to improve day care facilities and payment methods for county employees.

Gelman's longstanding commitment to expanding Montgomery County human services began as early as 1976. From 1976 until her retirement in 1987, Gelman sponsoring numerous bills and resolutions aimed at establishing and improving and Comprehensive Community Crisis Center. This center was designed to provide care, shelter, and counseling to victims of sexual assault, spousal abuse, and drug addiction. The Center was comprised of three primary divisions: the Abused Persons Program, the Crisis Intervention Service, and the Family Shelter. These services, provided at low or no cost, assisted an estimated 10,000 persons a year.

Other legislation supported by Gelman included bills insuring religious leave for County employees, a resolution to boycott grapes to protest pesticide use, and a reform of the County Disability Retirement program.

Along with her council activities, Gelman was active in the Maryland Association of Counties (1979-1985), the Metropolitan-Washington Council of Governments (1979-1985), and the National Association of Counties (1983-1985).

In 1983 Gelman was given a special award from the Maryland State Senate in recognition of "her leadership in helping victims of spouse abuse, sexual assault and other crises."

While remaining active in local religious and political groups, Gelman retired from the Montgomery County Council in 1987.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The items in this collection date from 1973 to 1986. The bulk of the material falls between the years 1983 through 1986. Correspondence, testimony transcripts, resolutions, bills, memoranda, and official reports comprise much of the collection. In addition, information sources such as pamphlets, leaflets, and reports on the Community Crisis Center are included. Issues with which Gelman dealt are reflected in the newspaper clippings, booklets, articles, and news releases in the collection. A State Senate Recognition Award given to Gelman is also included here.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Esther P. Gelman donated her papers to the University of Maryland College Park Libraries n 1986.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Mary Stevanus, August 1988.

Processing note:

Duplicate photocopies of news clippings, along with the original clippings, were also discarded. Folders of similar materials were combined. The collections was placed in acid-free folders and re-boxed.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine, May 2004.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is divided into two series:

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Legislative Files, 1975-1986 and undated (4.5 linear inches)

This series contains materials dealing with legislation sponsored or supported by Mrs. Gelman. Correspondence, memoranda, testimony transcripts, petitions, and information sources concerning no smoking legislation introduced in 1976 and 1985 are included here.

Correspondence, transcripts, hearing speaker lists, and information on the merging of addiction treatment services in Montgomery County and the Equal Compensation Bill of 1983 are included in this series. State Senate Resolution 270, recognizing Gelman's contributions to human services, along with a congratulatory letter complete this series.

These files are arranged alphabetically by topic.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Dependent Care Assistant Program, 1983-1986 series 1box 1folder 1
Equal Compensation Bill, 1982-1983 series 1box 1folder 2
No Smoking Legislation, 1975-1986 series 1box 1folder 3
No Smoking Legislation, 1975-1986 series 1box 1folder 4
No Smoking Legislation, 1975-1986 series 1box 1folder 5
State Senate Resolution, 1983 series 1box 1folder 6

Series 2: Subject Files, 1977-1986 (7 linear inches)

Various issues dealt with by Gelman are documented in this series. The majority of the materials concern the Community Crisis Center. Bills submitted to the County Council, reports, notes, correspondence, and testimony transcripts reveal Gelman's role in the establishment and development of the Community Crisis Center.

Related issues such as spousal assault and drug addition are also covered. Correspondence, council resolutions, news clippings, and reports cover these and other topics dealt with by Gelman.

This series is arranged alphabetically by topic.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Cable Information, 1982-1984 and undated series 2box 1folder 7
Community Crisis Center, 1977-1986 series 2box 2folder 1
Community Crisis Center, 1977-1986 series 2box 2folder 2
Community Crisis Center, 1977-1986 series 2box 2folder 3
Community Crisis Center, 1977-1986 series 2box 2folder 4
Community Crisis Center, 1977-1986 series 2box 2folder 5
Community Crisis Center, 1977-1986 series 2box 2folder 6
Community Crisis Center, 1977-1986 series 2box 2folder 7
Crisis Services in Montgomery County, 1984 series 2box 2folder 8
Department of Mental Health and Habilitation -- Bill 77-85, 1986 series 2box 2folder 9
Department of Mental Health and Habilitation -- Bill 77-85, 1986 series 2box 2folder 10
Grapes and Grape Pesticide, 1986 series 2box 2folder 11
Spousal Abuse, 1981-1985 series 2box 2folder 12
Spousal Abuse, 1981-1985 series 2box 2folder 13

Related Material

The Goucher College Archives in Towson, Maryland, contains an oral history interview with Esther Gelman from 1981 in its Maryland Women Lawmakers Oral History Project Collection.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.