Fishermen's Wives of Gloucester (Association)

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The Fishermen's Wives of Gloucester (Association), known familiarly as the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association (GFWA) is a non-profit organization promoting the New England fishing industry, helping to preserve the Atlantic Ocean as a food supply for the world, and assisting active and retired fishermen and their families to live better lives. Initially called the United Fishermen's Wives Organization of Gloucester, the group formed in 1969; by 1977 it had changed its name to GFWA. Referring to themselves informally as "the Wives," the group of primarily Sicilian-American women, many first-generation immigrants, successfully learned English and assimilated to American culture. With their husbands offshore on fishing trips, often for extended periods of time, the Wives assumed responsibilities that had been traditionally divided according to gender. For instance, they managed households and acted as caregivers while at the same time paid bills, administered finances, and became involved in political affairs at the local level. As foreign, commercial fishing fleets threatened the livelihood of local fishermen, the Wives became advocates for their husbands' rights.

Initially vocalizing concerns of local fishermen, in the late 1970s the GFWA became active at the state, federal, and international levels as well. Among the Wives' first goals were lobbying for the federal government to prohibit oil drilling in Georges Bank and to protect the rights of American fishermen by passing fisheries conservation and management legislation. Members of the GFWA traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress about the necessity for such protective measures. The Magnuson-Stevens Act (1976) established a 200-mile area from shore in which only American vessels were permitted to fish, and created the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to manage American fisheries and conserve and protect living marine resources.

In 1977 Angela Sanfilippo joined Margaret "Peggy" Sibley as the co-president of the GFWA. Sanfilippo, a young, Sicilian American mother and wife of a fisherman, quickly became known for her ability to communicate effectively and mediate between fishermen and politicians. Under her leadership, the GFWA became a tireless and formidable force that raised awareness of issues in the fishing industry and championed the rights of small fishermen. To promote the industry and protect against overfishing and depletion of stock, GFWA endeavored to teach the public to use species of fish (e.g., calamari and herring) popular in Sicilian cooking but not in American. Developing and publicizing recipes using these underutilized species, GFWA produced two successful cookbooks and held countless cooking demonstrations at grocery store chains and events throughout New England.

As head of the GFWA, Sanfilippo forged ties with other leaders in the fishing industry around the world. Protesting oil drilling, overfishing, and pollution, the Wives emphasized that the concerns of the fishing industry were global in scope. The group established an exchange program between Gloucester and Japan, created mentoring programs to encourage Gloucester students to study marine sciences and/or work with the U.S. Coast Guard, and hosted local, regional, and international conferences for women in the fishing industry. In 1997 the group's efforts were recognized when Senator Edward Kennedy asked Sanfilippo to represent the U.S. East Coast in the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers (WFF).

As the work of the GFWA expanded, the group created two sister organizations: Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Memorial, Incorporated (GFWM) in 1982, and Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Development Programs (GFWDP) in 1995. The Wives established the GFWM as a separate entity, dedicated to raising funds to design, construct, and maintain a memorial statue to honor fishermen's wives around the world. The statue was completed and unveiled in 2001. The GFWDP was established primarily to obtain and administer grant monies to develop programs that would provide education, training, research, and support for conservation; to promote underutilized species; to find transitional programs for families in fishing and related industries, and to foster a sense of the living culture of fishing communities. While functioning as separate entities, the groups overlapped considerably in terms of membership and goals.

In addition to serving as president of the GFWA, GFWDP, and GFWM, Sanfilippo assumed a leading role in many other institutions that shaped the fishing industry at the state and regional levels. Similarly, other GFWA staff members assumed active leaderships roles in organizations whose goals dovetailed with those of the GFWA. As of 2010, the GFWA continued to advocate for regulations that ensure a healthy ocean and healthy fishing communities in Gloucester and around the world.

From the guide to the Records of the Fishermen's Wives of Gloucester (Association), (inclusive), (bulk), 1950-2009, 1977-2004, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Records of the Fishermen's Wives of Gloucester (Association), (inclusive), (bulk), 1950-2009, 1977-2004 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
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associatedWith Favazzo, Margaret person
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correspondedWith Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library corporateBody
correspondedWith Gloucester Redevelopment Authority corporateBody
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associatedWith Greenpeace corporateBody
associatedWith Greenpeace's corporateBody
correspondedWith Gulf of Maine Fishermen's Alliance corporateBody
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correspondedWith Immigration Law, Education, and Advocacy Project corporateBody
correspondedWith International Collective in Support of Fishworkers corporateBody
correspondedWith Ipswich Bank corporateBody
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correspondedWith Kyriakakis, William person
associatedWith Lee Harty person
correspondedWith Lee, Patricia person
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correspondedWith Massachusetts Fisherman's Partnership corporateBody
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correspondedWith Massachusetts Governor's Seafood Task Force corporateBody
correspondedWith Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association corporateBody
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correspondedWith Nalini Nayak person
correspondedWith Nancy Cohen person
correspondedWith National Federation of Fishermen corporateBody
correspondedWith National Fisheries Institute corporateBody
correspondedWith National Fishworkers Forum corporateBody
correspondedWith National Geographic Society corporateBody
correspondedWith National Italian American Foundation, 1993-1994 corporateBody
correspondedWith National Marine Educators Association corporateBody
correspondedWith National Museum of American History corporateBody
correspondedWith National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration corporateBody
correspondedWith National Park Service corporateBody
associatedWith New England Biolabs Foundation corporateBody
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associatedWith Niaz Dorry person
associatedWith Nichola Sanfilippo person
correspondedWith Nina Groppo person
correspondedWith Northeast Fisheries and Sustainable Communities Project corporateBody
correspondedWith Office of Travel and Tourism corporateBody
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correspondedWith Salem State College corporateBody
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associatedWith Sal Testeverde person
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associatedWith Sam Linquata person
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associatedWith Scott Memhard person
correspondedWith Seafarer's International Union corporateBody
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correspondedWith Section of Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental law corporateBody
correspondedWith Silva, Richard person
correspondedWith Smithsonian Institution corporateBody
correspondedWith South Atlantic Fishery Management Council corporateBody
associatedWith Southern Essex Workforce Investment Board corporateBody
correspondedWith Stedman, Bruce person
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correspondedWith The Fishermen's Coalition corporateBody
correspondedWith Thomas Kocherry person
correspondedWith Thurmond, Strom person
correspondedWith Tom Hill person
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correspondedWith United Fishermen's Wives Organization of Gloucester corporateBody
correspondedWith United States Coast Guard corporateBody
associatedWith University of New Hampshire corporateBody
associatedWith Wainwright, Clara person
correspondedWith Wellspring House corporateBody
correspondedWith William Cohen person
correspondedWith Women and the Fisheries, Inc. corporateBody
correspondedWith Women in Fisheries Programme corporateBody
correspondedWith Women Involved in Farm Economics corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Coalition for Pacific Fisheries corporateBody
correspondedWith Women's Fishnet corporateBody
correspondedWith World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers corporateBody
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Ark ID: w6fg6zxn

SNAC ID: 2038510