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Religa (Stella) Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Availability
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biography
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections
    Title: Stella Religa Collection
    Creator: Religa, Stella
    Identifier/Call Number: SPC.2016.015
    Physical Description: 9.4 Linear Feet
    Physical Description: 9 boxes (three document boxes; one record storage box; one photograph box; three oversized boxes; one media storage box)
    Date (inclusive): 1918-2016; undated
    Date (bulk): 1960-1980
    Abstract: The Stella Religa Collection (1918-2016, undated) contains materials from the life and career of political activist Stella Religa. The materials in this collection concentrate on Religa's advocacy for the Democratic Party, women's rights issues, the anti-Vietnam war movement, and domestic violence awareness. This includes documents pertaining to Religa's involvement in local government and the National Organization of Women (NOW), as well as her work founding the Women's and Children's Crisis Center (WCCS) for victims of domestic violence. Also included in the collection is political memorabilia collected by Religa, including hundreds of campaign buttons, several women's rights garments and jewelry items, audio tapes, newspapers, magazines, and commemorative political portraits and postcards. Finally, the collection includes Religa's personal documents, including correspondence, newspaper clippings about her, certificates from political organizations, photographs, and a memorial document.
    Language of Material: English .


    There are no access restrictions on this collection.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    For information about citing archival material, see the Citations for Archival Material  guide, or consult the appropriate style manual.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Collection donated to CSUDH Archives by Sharilyn Religa.


    Stella Religa was born Stella Gertrude Pavlis on April 8, 1919 in Aberdeen, Washington. She was born to Christine Marie Cerny and Frank Pavlis, immagrants from Czechoslovakia who moved to the United States at the onset of World War I. Stella's first job was working as a stenographer for Western Electric Division of AT&T in Chicago, IL. There, she met John Religa. John joined the Army as a radar mechanic, later serving as a Sergeant in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942 through 1946. In 1946, Stella and John married and moved to California. The couple had their first son, Robert John, in 1951, and their second son, James Paul, a few years later in 1953. Their third and final child, Sharilyn Jean, was born in December 1957.
    Stella and John moved their family to Whittier in 1956. John eventually became Vice President of the Trust Department at Crocker National Bank, while Stella became deeply involved in politics. She became an accomplished activist for the Democratic Party, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and issues relating to women's equality. In 1968, she served as a delegate to the Democratic Party's National Convention in Chicago. In the late 1960s, she ran for the city council in Whittier. In the early 1970s, Stella co-founded the Whittier chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW). She was heavily involved in this organization and their related causes, particularly advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
    In 1977, Stella Religa was an integral part in starting the Women's and Children's Crisis Shelter, Inc. (WCCS) for women and children facing domestic violence. As President of the Board of Directors of the WCCS, Stella helped establish a shelter facility and later an auxiliary building named Stella's Friendship House. She continued working for thirty years in the formation of quality programs to assist thousands of victims of domestic violence. Stella and John separated in 1979, and she bought a house in Whittier, where she continued living for the remainder of her life. In 1994, Stella met Norman D. Ingram at a conference in Morrow Bay, California. The two began dating in 1995 and were together ever since. Stella Religa passed away in March 2016.

    Scope and Contents

    The Stella Religa Collection (1918-2016, undated) contains materials from the life and work of political activist Stella Religa. Religa devoted her career to advocating for the Democratic Party and a number of activist causes, including women's rights issues (particularly the Equal Rights Amendment), domestic violence awareness, and the anti-Vietnam war movement. The bulk of the collection consists of collected political memorabilia relating to these causes. This includes hundreds of political buttons for political campaigns and activist causes, several women's rights garments and jewelry items, audio tapes of notable political figures, newspapers and magazines pertaining to major historical events in the US, and commemorative political portraits and postcards. Also included are records of the beginnings of the Whittier chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the Women's and Children's Crisis Center (WCCS), both of which Religa co-founded. Finally, the collection contains Religa's personal documents, including letters to politicians, newspaper clippings about her work, certificates awarded from various political organizations, photographs of her work with NOW, and a memorial document.


    This collection is arranged in to four series, three of which have sub-series:
    1. Series I: Political Memorabilia (1940-2002, undated)
    2. Sub-series A: Political buttons (circa 1960-1999, undated)
    3. Series II: Political Media and Publications (1918-2003, undated)
    4. Series III: Women's Rights Materials (1966-1983, undated)
    5. Sub-series A: National Organization of Women (NOW) Materials (1970-1982)
    6. Sub-series B: Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Materials (1978-1982, undated)
    7. Series IV: Stella Religa Personal Documents (1956-2016, undated)

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Whittier (Calif.)
    Chicago (Ill.)
    Women's rights
    Democratic Party (US)
    Equal rights amendments -- United States
    National Organization for Women. Los Angeles Chapter