NYRW was founded in New York City in the fall of 1967, by Shulamith Firestone and Pam Allen. Early members included: Ros Baxandall, Carol Hanisch, Patricia Mainardi, Robin Morgan, Irene Peslikis, Kathie Sarachild, and Ellen Willis.
The first major protest NYRW attended was the Jeannette Rankin Brigade Protest in Washington, D.C., on January 15, 1968. Members of NYRW led an alternative protest event - a burial of traditional womanhood, held in Arlington National Cemetery. NYRW also participated in the first major Women's Liberation Movement (WLM) demonstration, the Miss America Protest in Atlantic City, NJ, on September 7, 1968. The final national WLM event to occur with the NYRW group still intact was the Counter-Inauguration in Washington D.C., in January 1969.
By 1969, the various ideological tendencies within the group had coalesced into a radical feminist faction and a socialist feminist (or "politico") faction. Tension between the two factions ended up splitting the group in January 1969; the socialist feminists, such as Robin Morgan, left to form Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (W.I.T.C.H.), while the radical feminists around Shulamith Firestone started Redstockings.