EFA's History: Volunteers Made It Happen
The Editorial Freelancers Association traces its origins to 1970, when editors at Grove Press went on strike in an effort to make the publishing industry more responsive to their needs. During the course of events, two Grove editors who found themselves freelancing again—Mary Heathcote and Cicely Nichols—met with several others to discuss the situation, and predicaments, of freelancers.
During the late 1970s, EFA continued to grow steadily. It became clear that a more formal structure was needed. Organizing that structure took two years. A Structure Committee wrote bylaws and created the Board of Governors, which was to be headed by two co-executives. It also created the positions of secretary and treasurer.
In 1979, EFA opened its first office, a small, dark space in a funky building on East 20th Street in Manhattan. In 1985, EFA hired an office manager. In 1997, regional chapter development was initiated to enrich the EFA experience for members outside the New York headquarters area.
All of the innovations, leadership, and plain hard work that have kept EFA growing came from volunteers. Some freelanced for a while and went back to full-time positions; others continued freelancing on a permanent basis. EFA was a pioneer in organizing freelancers into a network for mutual support and advancement. Today it is recognized throughout the publishing industry as the source for professional editorial assistance. And as editorial freelancing—indeed, freelancing in many fields of endeavor—becomes more prevalent, EFA can look forward to an even brighter future.