Although the Business and Professional Women's Club can claim membership going back to 1919, more radical or activist women's liberation groups began locally in the late 1960s as small groups organized chiefly around single issues with leadership drawn primarily from working women. A survey of the Women's Liberation movement in the Louisville area in March 1971 reported several groups with about twenty-five members each who had formed a loose coalition and were sponsoring the Women's Newspaper Collective. Two years later, three of those organizations had sprung to the forefront of feminist issues - Louisville National Organization for Women (NOW), the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union (KCLU), and the Metropolitan Louisville Women's Political Caucus. Very likely the affiliation of these local groups with national organizations assisted in building membership and focus. Such national figures as Gloria Steinem and Betty Freidan had publicized NOW as a galvanizing force on the political scene. By 1973, these groups were far more organized, had developed political agendas and confrontation strategies, and were collaborating in producing New Womankind, which was edited by Emmy Hixon.
Early NOW leaders in Kentucky in 1973 and 1974 included NOW state coordinator Carolyn Weeks, NOW editor Susan Englander, coordinator of the NOW Legislative Committee Anita Solodkin, and the NOW Rape Task Force coordinator Ann Freud. Additionally, aggressive recruitment campaigns that expanded the number of chapters in the state were spearheaded by Lelia Cushman. By October 1974, NOW chapters were operational in Louisville and Lexington and had been organized in Fort Knox and Paducah. Priorities among the several NOW concerns in the early 1970s included equal pay, promotion and treatment on the job; rape prevention, medical and police treatment of rape victims, including counseling thereafter; and abortion availability and counseling. Many of the early meetings were held at the Jefferson Community College, but membership drew heavily from working women and faculty and students at nearby colleges.