Virginia Knauer papers donated to Penn State

The personal and professional papers documenting the career of Virginia Harrington Wright Knauer, former director of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs (1971–1977 and 1981–1989), have been donated to Penn State's Special Collections Library and are now available for research. Knauer, the top consumer adviser to three presidents, was an early advocate of recycling, unit pricing and other reforms that have become standard practices. A finding aid is searchable at:

Knauer was one of the women profiled in the recent book, "A Matter of Simple Justice" that documents the pioneering efforts of women in Federal government in the early 1970s. The “A Few Good Women” oral history project, (see conducted by the Penn State University Archives, documents these efforts that were led by Penn State alumna the Honorable Barbara Hackman Franklin.

Knauer, born on March 20, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pa., spent her entire professional career focused on consumer protection and education and corporate responsibility. A 1933 graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls, Knauer earned dual degrees in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1937. She became active in Republican politics when she rallied women to support the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s. She ran successfully for office herself in 1959 and was one of the first two women elected to serve on the Philadelphia City Council (1960–1968). She was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Ray Shafer to the newly created position of chief consumer adviser in 1968. She moved to work for the Nixon administration in April 1969, as special assistant for Consumer Affairs, which led to her appointment as director in 1971. Knauer served Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan and created a private business to advocate for consumer protection. Knauer died on October 16, 2011 in Washington.

The Knauer papers finding aid includes records series such as Consumer Affairs, Political papers, Professional papers, Speeches, Memberships, Personal papers, Photographs, Awards, and Audio-Visual materials. Access to the collection and/or questions related to it can be addressed to: Jackie R. Esposito, University Archivist, 814-865-1793 or


Last Updated February 04, 2013