The Jenny Knauss Papers fill 13 boxes and are arranged in 4 series: Correspondence; Personal Planners; Miscellaneous Materials; and Photographs. The bulk of the collection consists of personal correspondence, mostly between Knauss and her family members.
The collection was partially arranged by Knauss, with items separated into boxes by year, or groups of years. The earlier materials were more thoroughly arranged and organized, including the years of 1955 to around 1980. From that point on there was progressively less organization, until the 2000s when the materials were grouped together with no order.
A number of years (1955 to 1981) were transcribed by Knauss and some copies of these transcriptions are included in the folders. A CD-R in the collection holds copies of the complete transcriptions.
The correspondence is arranged chronologically, with incoming and outgoing letters interspersed. The collection includes a large number of letters sent from Knauss to her mother, Marge (Marjorie) Dobbin, and her sister, Deb (Deborah) Dobbin. There are also letters between Deborah and other family members. Marge Dobbin saved the majority of their correspondence and Knauss was able to collect it all together. Included is material which documents Knauss's early time in Africa; her marriage and early childrearing; time spent living in a commune in Chicago; the early days of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union; and her work with the Illinois Caucus on Adolescent Health (originally the Illinois Caucus on Teenage Pregnancy).
Often, non-correspondence material was included in the pre-sorted boxes. The original grouping was maintained, and material was for the most part kept in the folders with the correspondence since the events or material were sometimes referenced in the letters. Examples include research notes, speech drafts, interviews, and event flyers.
The personal planners document Knauss's day to day life and work and also sometimes contain research notes. The miscellaneous materials include passports; birth certificates; printed material relating to healthcare, feminism, and other themes; newspaper and magazine clippings; school materials from Knauss's two children; and more.
Several hundred photographs and negatives make up the photographs series. They document Knauss's personal and professional life, with the vast majority covering later family events and vacations (mostly in the U.K.). Some early photographs relate to Knauss's time in Africa.
Material in the Knauss Papers can be supplemented with the McCormick Library's extensive feminist book and periodical holdings, as well as with material from the topical W.E.F. ephemeral files.