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Scope and Contents

This is the largest series and its content documents the heart of the mission of the NWHN. It contains a wide variety of materials related to thirty-four projects and programs including files of endorsements by the Network for various causes, products and people. The word "project" is used loosely and in some cases refers to a number of separate efforts within one topic. There is additional related material throughout the records especially in SERIES III. COMMITTEES, SERIES V. MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCIAL MATERIALS, SERIES VI. PUBLICATIONS AND REPORTS, SERIES VIII CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS, and SERIES XIV. SUBJECT AND REFERENCE FILES.

The first subseries is the Black Women's Health Project. The Project was established in 1981 by Billye Avery as a two year pilot to establish links between black women and local activists in the women's health movement; educate the public about health problems of Black Americans; pressure state legislatures for increased health services for the poor; organize a major conference on Black women's health; and to bring together community projects for the poor, elderly, and rural Black Americans for improved health care. In 1983 at the Black Women's Health Conference, the BWHP became an independent national organization. It was renamed the National Black Women's Health Project in 1984 and is now the Black Women's Health Imperative. The subseries is arranged alphabetically. There is information regarding a training conference for self-help facilitators, material about and by Billye Avery, and two affiliates in California and Georgia. There is correspondence, funding material, schedules, programs and printed material related to three conferences: the Black Women's Health Conference (1983), From Cries to Whispers, Black Women and AIDS (1988), and Power of Spirituality and Healing (1988). There are budgets, financial reports and fund raising materials related to the project, as well as historical and organization materials. In 1985 two public hearings were held, one in New York City another in Los Angeles and there are testimony transcripts and organizational material related to them. Finally, there are writings and publications including three newsletters (Black Women's Health Project News, Sister Ink, and Vital Signs); a self help developers manual; and "African American Women and Abortion: 1800-1970" by Loretta Ross.

The NWHN has made breast cancer one of its high priority issues. The Breast cancer campaign subseries contains materials related to a number of efforts by the NWHN including prevention, treatment, screening, and implant safety along files on related organizations, meetings, and media materials. This subseries is arranged alphabetically.

In 1996 a series of public advertisements claiming a connection between breast cancer and abortion were placed in Washington metro stations. The NWHN, along with other women's health organizations, spearheaded an effort to remove the "false and misleading" announcement. In 1997 the NWHN's "Get the Facts" campaign, including an organizing kit of information, led to the removal of the ads. This material comprises the first section: Abortion and breast cancer.

In 1979 the Network opposed the appointment of Dr. Susan Blumenthal as Senior Advisor to President Clinton on women's health. The correspondence related to this is included in this subseries because this opposition was related to a dispute over breast cancer research.

A major project of the NWHN's has been an investigation of the relationship between breast cancer and diet. Included in this section are articles and printed material; the contents of a binder, "Breast Cancer, diet, body size and GI", a collection of research materials, abstracts, and articles on dietary fat, body mass, and the gastrointestinal tract and the relationship to breast cancer; a brochure "The Diet Your Doctor Won't Give You" from Ms. Magazine; the Network's position on recombinant bovine growth hormone in dairy cows and a possible link to breast cancer; NWHN's statement on breast cancer and diet; information regarding a dietary fat intervention trial of the Women's Health Initiative and the National Cancer Institute; and the National Cancer Institute's Women's Health Trial, a study of the relationship between dietary fat and breast cancer.

The NWHN was part of the Breast Cancer Advocacy Communication Project, a computer training program for breast cancer activists. Correspondence, notes, and printed materials document this project as well as a report from the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging, "Breast Cancer Detection: The Need for a Federal Responses."

In 1993 the Network produced a packet of breast cancer materials about breast cancer treatment and preventin. There is a folder of articles and printed materials of background material for the packets, one of correspondence, and the 1993 (second version) of the packet.

The NWHN warned women about the breast cancer risks of hormones and hormone replacement therapy. The section on breast cancer and hormones contains correspondence about Breast Cancer and Estrogen by Carol Ann Rinzler, NWHN guidelines for oral contraceptive use, research by Malcolm Pike and Darcy Spicer on hormone therapy and breast cancer, materials from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, NWHN media releases, and "Oral Contraceptives: Risk Factor for Breast Cancer" produced by the National Academy of Sciences, Institutes of Medicine.

One component of the breast cancer campaign was to evaluate breast cancer screening. This section contains printed materials, correspondence, research materials, and publications related to screening as a preventative to breast cancer. Most of this material relates to mammography. There are files of advertising, articles and clippings, a publication from the NIH "Cancer facts," and regulations. In 1986 the Network created a questionnaire for the purpose of developing model clinic guidelines. The survey was sent to clinics and was designed to target problems in breast cancer screening. Individual women also reported on their experiences at clinics. There is correspondence, and there are descriptions and interview packets, responses, reports, and results from the screening project.

The staff of the NWHN attended, sponsored and co-sponsored conferences and meetings related to breast cancer. Twelve conferences and meetings generated files of correspondence, agendas, and printed materials. The Network sponsored a Women and Cancer Conference in 1985. The reports of this conference are of particular interest.

The NWHN has concerned itself with the safety of breast implants and advocates collections of long term data on safety and effectiveness prior to approval. To this end the Network lobbied the government, testified before congressional hearings, did media outreach, collected data, and became involved in litigation. This section includes correspondence, printed materials, government and legal documents, and press releases and media materials related to saline and silicone breast implants.

A folder of materials documents a fundraiser featuring Rose Kushner, author and pioneering advocate for breast cancer patients, lumpectomies and breast cancer, and minorities.

This subseries also contains correspondence, printed material, agendas and notes related to twelve organizations involved in breast cancer prevention and treatment. This section is related to the conferences and meetings section because there are workshops and conferences included in these organization files. There are substantial records from the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer, National Breast Cancer Coalition/Fund, and The National Cancer Institute. Of particular interest in the National Cancer Institute materials are articles, clippings, congressional hearings, statements on the NCI funded National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project research fraud where breast cancer research data was falsified over a ten year period There is a section on the risk factors of breast cancer including data and research material as well a folder on survival statistics.

The bulk of the breast cancer campaign materials relates to tamoxifen. This section includes advertisements, articles and clippings, risk assessments, information about clinical trials, correspondence and calls from tamoxifen users, meetings, speeches and testimonies, clinical information and research materials. In 1991 the National Cancer Institute funded the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial. The trial was designed to test whether taking tamoxifen could prevent breast cancer in women who were at an increased risk of developing the disease. The trial also examined whether taking tamoxifen decreased the number of heart attacks and reduced the number of bone fractures in these women. Researchers with the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project recruited participants between 1992 and 1997. Although the Network supported the use of tamoxifen as a preventative for the reoccurrence of breast cancer in certain cases, it opposed the use of the drug in healthy women and thus opposed the trial. Articles, clippings, correspondence, hearings and testimonies, meeting and research materials, protocols, media and NWHN press releases, and trial results document the Network's involvement in this issue.

In 2001 the NWHN received funding from the California Endowment to explore the interest and feasibility of collaborating with local California groups, especially women of color, to bring them into the debate on women's health at the federal level and to working together to address women's health needs. The third subseries: The California Endowment Project contains correspondence, printed materials, feasibility studies, grant reports, and notes related to the project.

The fourth subseries is the Cervical Cap Public Education Campaign. The Network has been committed to finding and promoting harmless methods of contraception. To this end it has promoted the use of the cervical cap. The FDA had classified the cervical cap as a "substantial risk device" and effectively prohibited its distribution. In response the NWHN provided a phone information line for consumers, lobbied the government, testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, produced an information kit, did a media campaign, and brought legal suit. This subseries contains project information, correspondence, printed materials, legal documents, testimonies, notes, meeting agendas, lists of providers, and research materials related to the cervical cap, its distribution and promotion.

The fifth subseries is the Network's Clearinghouse. Each year thousands of women contact the Network's Information Clearinghouse in search of accurate, relevant and reliable health information. The Clearinghouse provides evidence-based independent information from a variety of perspectives. Founded in the late 1970s, the Clearinghouse was distributing thirty-two health information packets and nine resource guides by 1986. The Clearinghouse is staffed with interns who are overseen by the Network's clearinghouse coordinator. This subseries contains correspondence, meeting reports, notes and agendas for the Clearinghouse Ad Hoc committee, information packets, copyright information for packet contents, program materials, reports, and statistics.

The NWHN has also made consumer protection one of its high priority issues. In its first year, the NWHN organized the first ever protest against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration opposing FDA approval and lack of oversight of synthetic estrogens such as DES and high-dose estrogens in combined oral contraceptive pills. As a result Patient Packaging Inserts (PPIs) listing side effects were established for oral contraceptives-the first PPIs in U.S. history.The Consumer Protection subseries documents a number of efforts by the NWHN including drug regulation, advertising and labeling, patient education, package inserts, over the counter drugs, pharmaceutical exports, and product liability. This subseries is arranged in five sections: Consumer Product Safety Commission, FDA, over the counter drugs, product liability, and SPAN [Stop Patient Abuse Now].

The Consumer Product Safety Commission folder consists of two reports on the accomplishments of the Commission and its reauthorization. The FDA section is the largest in this subseries and related topics can be found elsewhere in the subseries. It consists of correspondence, reports, meeting agendas, and printed materials related to twelve committees of the FDA, Consumer Exchange meetings, and a Contraceptive Efficacy Study. There is correspondence with Commissioners Jere Coyan and Donald Kennedy and between Doris Haire and the FDA on cesarean sections. The remainder of the section contains correspondence, information packets, printed materials and reports on a variety of subjects including DES, advertising, drugs and drug safety, food and drug labeling, medical device safety, medication guides, the Office of Consumer Affairs (meetings guidelines, representatives), drug exports, the NWHN opposition to FDA approval of fat substitute Olestra, over the counter drugs, patient education, package inserts, weight control products, and a Women's Health Initiative.

The product liability section contains hearings; texts; statements; analyses of, and reports on, congressional acts and bills (Senate bills 100 and 44 and House bill 27290); a product liability statement by the NWHN; and strategy meetings. Finally there are letters and reports from Stop Patient Abuse Now related to pharmaceutical reform.

The Dalkon Shield/IUD subseries documents the NWHN campaign against the marketing of IUDs. Although this includes devices such as the copper seven and CU380a, the subseries primarily relates to the Dalkon Shield. The A.H. Robins Company began selling the shield in 1970 and between 1970 and 1974 when it suspended marketing under pressure from the FDA, approximately 2.5 million devices were sold in the U.S. and 2 million outside the U.S. In 1975 the Network began receiving requests for information and legal help from Shield users. In response to these requests, the Network filed a worldwide class action lawsuit in 1981 against A.H. Robins requesting the recall of all devices from women worldwide. In 1983 it filed a Citizen's Petition with the FDA requesting that the Shield be declared a banned product and that notification be made that it presented an unreasonable risk to women's health. In 1984 A.H. Robins began an official recall of the Shield and in 1985 the Network filed a petition to prevent A.H. Robins from filing for bankruptcy.

This subseries is arranged alphabetically. There are articles and clippings about IUDs and A.H. Robins, followed by attorney lists, materials related to the Network's position on attorney fees for A.H. Robins legal cases, and a chronological history of the of the Dalkon Shield. In 1985 G.D. Searle & Co. was the subject of lawsuits charging that its Copper 7 intrauterine device caused pelvic infection and infertility. There is a folder of articles, news releases, and reports regarding the device and its side effects. GynoMed began marketing another IUD, the Copper T380a, in 1988. The Network's position was one of caution because of concern that it posed the same risks as the Copper 7. There is a folder of articles as well as the Network's statement regarding the device. There is a folder of Dalkon Shield/IUD correspondence and one of financial material regarding a Dalkon Shield special appeal by the Network. Because of the international sale and distribution of the Shield, there is a section consisting of international correspondence, mailing lists, notes, and printed materials. In the legal section there are attachments, petitions, correspondence, and reports related to the Citizen's petition to the FDA; A.H. Robins materials including claims against the company; court cases against Robins, including the NWHN class action suit; and the materials regarding the motion to dismiss the Chapter 11 case. The NWHN organized a wide media and outreach project regarding the Dalkon Shield. It produced a booklet ("The Dalkon Shield"), a "Danger Sheet", a film ("IUDS Calculating the Risk"), an information packet, press releases, and statements. In addition the Network initiated a press campaign that included a press conference, radio and televisions spots, and a rally. This material is located in the Media and outreach section. The Network cooperated with a number of other organizations in their campaign against the Dalkon Shield. A number of organizations produced printed materials, correspondence, reports, and notes: Action Alert for Women, Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust, Dalkon Shield Information Network, Dalkon Shield Victims Association, the Federal Drug Administration, International Dalkon Shield Victims Education Association, Medical Claims Consultants, and the Official Committee of Dalkon Shield Claimants. Rounding out this subseries are a medical protocol for the removal of an IUD, questionnaires for IUD users, and a list of referrals for women who have sustained injuries by using the Dalkon Shield.

Depo-Provera is the largest of the subseries. Developed in 1958 by the Upjohn Company, Depo-Provera is an artificial female hormone used as an injectable 3-month contraceptive. Studies revealed that Depo- Provera had been linked to cancers in animals, that the drug had often been used for unapproved purposes, and that fetal exposure to the drug could cause birth defects. Also the Network maintained that human studies refuting it as a cause of cancer had been flawed. The NWHN opposed the approval and marketing of the drug because it felt that the benefits did not outweigh the risks. In 1978 after various studies and committee hearings, the FDA decided that it would not approve the drug for contraceptive use. Upjohn appealed the decision. Depo-Provera also has been marketed and used overseas where there was no developed health care system to monitor its effects. The Network sent letters to third world leaders informing them of the carcinogenic effects of the drug. In 1979 the Network established a registry and encouraged women who had used Depo-Provera to supply information about their experience with the drug. The registry was used to provide statistics for testimony at FDA hearings and some of the women who participated in the registry and filled out an associated questionnaire were selected to be part of a class action lawsuit against Upjohn.

This subseries is arranged alphabetically and contains reports; correspondence; printed material; court and legal documents including testimonies and hearing reports, petitions, and registry questionnaires. There is a report on animal studies with Depo-Provera and there are sample consent forms along with a fact sheet developed by the Network for women who request injections. The correspondence section contains letters regarding Depo-Provera lawsuits, internal NWHN memos, letters to and from members of Congress and government officials, letters from doctors, correspondence of Board member Judy Norsigian, pro Depo-Provera letters, and requests for information. There are two volumes from the Department of Health and Humans Services FDA Fertility and Material Health Drug Advisory Committee brochure on Depo-Provera and a volume of transcripts of the committee's proceedings. In addition there is "The Depo-Provera Debate," a volume of hearings before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Population.

In 1984 an FDA panel recommended that Depo-Provera, which was approved in the U.S. only for use as a cancer palliative, should continue to be denied approval for contraceptive use. The recommendation came after a three year review of data on Depo-Provera by the FDA Public Board of Inquiry. The FDA Board of Inquiry section contains background materials, correspondence, pathology reports, prehearing conference material, correspondence and miscellaneous documents from NWHN's Counsel Steptoe & Johnson, and miscellaneous submissions to the Board. In addition there is considerable material related to the Upjohn Company's appeal including studies, submissions to the FDA, testimonies, witness communications and testimonies, transcripts of hearings, and proceedings.

Two years later Upjohn initiated field studies in seventy foreign countries, and in 1967 the company contracted with Grady Memorial Family Planning Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia to conduct a large-scale clinical trial of 1,000 women. The Hatcher Report describes this study. There are materials from two House subcommittees. The first is a statement of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology on Depro-Provera use as a contraceptive before the General Oversight and Investigations Committee on Interior and Insular affairs. The second includes correspondence; articles by Stephen Minkin, a NWHN Depo-Provera consultant; and transcripts of Minkin's conversations and testimony before the House Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade.

The International and export to third world countries section contains articles, clippings, and printed materials from the Agency for International Development, the Asian Regional Workshop on Injectable Contraceptives; and correspondence, articles and correspondence on Depo-Provera in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, India, Jamaica and the West Indies, Kenya, the Philippines, Thailand, and Zimbabwe. It also includes a printed transcript, statements and reports from hearings before the House Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade. In addition there are materials related to the Federal Policy on Export of Banned Substances, the Interagency Working Group on a Hazardous Substances Export Policy, International Planned Parenthood Federation's endorsement of Depo-Provera and the National Alliance of Third World Journalists. Finally there is a student authored paper. "The Shot Heard Round the World;" testimony before the House Committee on Interior and insular Affairs by Norma Swenson, correspondence with the Word Bank; and a report by the World Health Organization.

The media and outreach section contains articles and clippings and other materiasl related to a documentary film, "The Ultimate Test Animal" produced by Karen Branan and Bill Turnley. The NWHN media campaign consists of a Depo-Provera information packet, press releases, news alerts, radio announcements and statements, press conferences and kit, lists of media contacts, and The Depo-Provera Debates: A Report by the National Women Health Network. In addition there is a talk by Judith Rooks and a satiric skit: "The Moral Majority Salutes International Women's Day."

The Organization section contains correspondence, agendas and printed materials on Consumer Exchange meetings, the California Institute of Medical Ethics, the Coalition to Stop Depo-Provera, Institute for the Study of Medical Ethics, and miscellaneous women's health groups. There are Depo-Provera petitions, pro-Depo-Provera material, and a NWHN request for funding.

Because of the names and personal information contained in the Registry section most of it is closed until 2060. Only the statistical analysis of the results and worksheets is open. The closed portions consist of lists of client information, correspondence in response to the Network's questionnaires and completed questionnaires. Finally there is material related to the Select Committee on Population; the National Science Foundation's "Toxic Substances: Decisions and Values"; and NWHN work plans, notes, and chronology of the Depo-Provera Project.

DES is the ninth subseries. DES (Diethylstilbestrol) is a synthetic form of estrogen prescribed to pregnant women between 1938 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage which has been linked to vaginal and cervical cancer in young women whose mothers took the drug during pregnancy. DES was also used as a "morning after pill" at college campuses and hospital emergency rooms, although not approved by the FDA for this purpose. In 1980 the Network warned the FDA regarding the use of DES and continued to lobby against the dangers of DES. There is a report from the FDA on the illegal use of DES in animal (cattle) feed and a bibliography of sources on DES. In 2001, in partnership with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the NWHN participated in a DES evaluation survey sent to random NWHN members to ascertain health related information especially related to DES. Correspondence with the CDC and WESTAT, the research corporation that was used to conduct the survey as well as copies of the survey are included in this subseries as well as a folder of miscellaneous correspondence. The subseries also includes correspondence and reports with the DES daughters Identification Project of Massachusetts and information about its affiliation with the Network and it's class action suit Payton et al v. Abbott Labs. There is also material related DES granddaughters and a court case regarding the cross generation effects of DES. In another survey (DES: Self Assessment) conducted in cooperation with the CDC, the Network sent an assessment questionnaire to its members. Included in this section is the survey along with related correspondence and plans. A DES Task Force was formed as a result of pressure by the NWHN. There is a summary report included here. Under the section Legal Issues there are articles and clippings, court transcripts, clippings, correspondence and printed materials related to the Joyce Bichler v. Eli Lilly case and additional information on the class action suit Payton et al. v. Abbott Labs. Finally there are statements and testimonies before Congress by some NWHN representatives and miscellaneous legal correspondence and printed materials. The meetings section contains agendas, minutes, and correspondence on meetings of Obstetrics and Gynecology Advisory Committee of the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and Consumer Exchange. NWHN press releases and statements were aimed at educating the public regarding the dangers of DES. The Organizations sections contains pamphlets, printed materials and correspondence regarding DES Action and DES National Education Campaign Working Group. Finally there are materials and articles on DES research, and a folder of DES related transcripts and testimonies.

The tenth subseries is Endorsements. The Network staff labeled these files "endorsements" and they contain letters and miscellaneous material regarding the NWHN endorsements for various causes, products, persons, conferences, and organizations. There is a separate folder on the Network's support of Henry Foster for Surgeon General. The rest of the subseries is arranged chronologically.

In 1998 the NWHN, in cooperation with the Epilepsy Foundation's Women's Initiative, made a commitment to raise awareness of the issues around epilepsy and women's health. The eleventh subseries, Epilepsy Outreach Project, contains correspondence, project plans, mailing lists, and printed materials about this collaboration.

The NWHN has played a central role in empowering women to make informed choices about their reproductive health and supported federally mandated, written informed consent for contraceptives, especially long-acting contraceptives. The twelfth subseries, Informed consent, contains correspondence, printed materials, reports, and survey results regarding this effort. In 1983 the Network requested copies of contraceptive consent forms used by college health services. The section on the College Health Services Survey contains correspondence, model consent forms and information sheets, and responses to the survey. This is followed by general correspondence on informed consent; appendices to a Report on the Public Forum on Informed Consent in Clinical Research conducted in Emergency Circumstances published by the FDA; and a statement by the NWHN, "Written Informed Consent and Long-Acting Contraception: Disincentive to Coercion."

The thirteenth Subseries, Insurance reform, contains articles, correspondence, and printed materials. As part of the Insurance Reform Working Group, the NWHN was involved in liability insurance, medical malpractice insurance, and the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act that exempted the insurance business from most federal regulation. There are also folders on the Network's work for medical malpractice insurance, national health insurance, and against sex discrimination in health and disability insurance.

The NWHN's program for improving the health care of lesbians reflects its vision of a health care system for all. The fourteenth subseries, Lesbian health, contains information collected for an educational packet sent out by the Network on lesbian health issues. There is a copy of "Lesbian Health Issues and Recommendations" distributed by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, and an endorsement of the Whitman/Weller Clinic's lesbian health agenda.

In response to the many calls and letters from women who believed that they received improper, inadequate, or faulty health care, the Network's Litigation Information Service provides attorney consultations and referral services to individuals who contact the Network seeking legal representation. This subseries consists primarily of correspondence sent to the Service regarding Benedictin, the Dalkon Shield, Depo-Provera, DES, medical records, and Tampax and toxic shock syndrome. In addition there is correspondence regarding legal issues of the Service as well as office procedures.

The Network's Mental Health subseries contains correspondence and printed materials regarding its stance against electroconvulsive therapy; and a description of a project on the mental health of mothers who were involved in custody battles for their children; and correspondence, reports and notes on the labeling of PMS as a mental illness.

The seventeenth subseries is the Midlife and Older Women's Project. This project addressed the problems of aging women by empowering them to take responsibility for the wellness of their bodies. The goals of the project were to establish self-help groups, expand the knowledge base about midlife and older women's health, and advocate for improvements in health care delivery. It consists of budget and project information, notes, articles, reports, and printed material on caring for the aged and long term care. Agendas, reports, and printed materials of the House Select Committee on Aging and meeting material from the National Coalition on Older Women's Issues are also found here. The Network worked with Citizens for the Improvement of Nursing Homes and the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform generating correspondence, reports, meeting and printed materiasl from these two organizations. The Network also supported the Georgia Nursing Home Legislation and a text of the legislation is included. There are also Included as well are publications from the Older Women's League; correspondence and printed materials of the Pepper Commission regarding health access and long term care; and statements, reports and notes on the Senate Subcommittee on Aging. Finally there are agendas, reports, and printed materials on three conferences: The Older Woman: Continuities and Discontinuities, White House Conference on Aging, and White House Mini Conference on Older Women.

In 1983 President Reagan's proposed budget drastically cut nursing education funds. The NWHN spearheaded a campaign to support these appropriations for nursing education. The Nursing education funding legislation subseries contains correspondence, fact sheets, printed materials and news alerts regarding this campaign.

There is one file of correspondence, notes, printed materials, and reports in the nineteenth subseries, Occupational health and safety, about glutaraldyde poisoning in health care workers.

The NWHN advocates regular pap tests as an early detection for cervical cancer. The twentieth subseries, Pap tests, contains correspondence, printed materials, reports, and notes regarding pap tests, and companies that produce clinical products for testing and new test technology.

The NWHN has taken a stand against risks to women and unborn children and affirms that every woman has the right to control her childbirth experiences including the type of care during pregnancy and the circumstances of the birth. The twenty-first subseries, Pregnancy and Childbirth, contains correspondence, reports, testimonies, a position paper, and printed materials. The drug bendectin, prescribed to pregnant women to treat morning sickness, was introduced in 1956 and removed from the market in 1983 because it caused birth defects. The Network created a registry for women who had taken the drug. There are several responses to the registry inquiry. The organization also collected data on Cesareans and episiotomies and found that the rate of cesareans had risen and that episiotomies were largely unnecessary. Correspondence, reports, printed and statistical material document this issue. There is a copy of a Network position paper on maternal health and childbirth. Finally there are NWHN testimonies and position papers on bendectin, fetal monitoring, induction of labor, and preterm labor.

In 1988 the Network sent a questionnaire on women's health to the presidential candidates. This twenty-second subseries, Presidential Candidates, contain answers to the questionnaire from George W. Bush, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Jesse Jackson, and Pete du Pont.

The NWHN supports access to safe and effective reproductive technologies including a woman's right to abortion care and contraception. The twenty-third subseries, Reproductive Rights, contains four sections: abortion, Campaign To Stop Anti-fertility Vaccines, contraception, and C.R.A.C.K. (Children Requiring a Caring Community).

In 1986 the Center for Population Options requested help from the Network to gather information on anti-choice activities targeting teenagers. A file on abortion choice and teenagers contains a copy of a survey sent out to pro-choice organizations. In 1985 the NWHN conducted a study of Washington D.C. area non-hospital abortion clinics with the intention of producing a resource guide. A file about the study contains the project description, protocol and questionnaire.

There are notes for a conference, Abortion in the Era of States Rights, sponsored by the Network (although it is not clear if the conference ever happened) and agendas and reports from meetings of the Abortion Information Exchange.

Along with many other organizations, the NWHN was on the steering committee for the Abortion Rights Action Week in October 1979. This file contains correspondence and memoranda, organization manuals, mailing lists, printed materials, meeting agendas, and notes related to this event. There is a small file on the Abortion Speak Out in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Redstockings which provides an important insight into the pro choice movement. A file of statements, witness lists, agenda, reports, and printed materials from hearings of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights documents abortion clinic violence.

Fake abortion clinics funded by anti-abortion groups advertised as legitimate abortion and birth control clinics. Women seeking services from them were then shown anti-abortion films with false and misleading information. The Network's Fake Clinic Project denounced the existence of these clinics and launched a nationwide campaign against them. This file includes background information on, and brochures from, fake clinics, and a PPFA generated packet on their Expose "Fake Clinic" Campaign as well as unidentified notes regarding fake clinics in relation to the TV program "Geraldo." There is a file of NWHN-generated press releases and miscellaneous material on the Fake Clinic Project. Some of this material was created for distribution in Network packets and there is a folder of responses to the project packet. Finally there are files of correspondence and printed materials related to the Network's campaign focused on getting the Yellow Pages to list abortion services separately from abortion alternatives.

The remainder of the abortion section contains clinic lists and printed materials on Federal funding of anti-abortion clinics; press releases, printed materials, statements and testimonies related to the anti-abortion Hatch Amendment; correspondence, printed materials, organizational instructions on three events in which the NWHN was involved; and correspondence, printed materials, and reports on menstrual extraction as an early method to terminate a pregnancy and on eleven abortion related organizations. Finally there are documents related to the public relations aspects of the campaign: press releases and position papers, Roe v. Wade 13th anniversary, NARAL's Silent No More Campaign, and the campaign against the anti-abortion film "Silent Scream".

The NWHN was involved in a campaign to stop the use of anti-fertility vaccines, especially international use of vaccines to control fertility. The section on the Campaign to Stop Anti-Fertility Vaccines consists of correspondence, printed materials, reports, and notes on the Network's involvement.

The contraception section contains "Contraceptive Research Priorities" by Judy Norsigian and critiques of contraceptive research by the Network. It also includes historical information on emergency contraception, testimony by Belita Cowan before the FDA on the Morning after Pill, as well as miscellaneous correspondence, printed materials, reports and notes. The NWHN backed the approval of a new contraceptive technology, Lea's Shield and generated correspondence, printed materials, notes, meeting agendas, testimony, and policy briefings on this barrier method of contraception. In 1983 the Network launched a petition drive to oust Deputy Assistant Secretary For Population Affairs Marjorie Mecklenburg as because she was the author of parental notification regulation requiring family organizations to notify parents when their teenage daughters received prescription birth control. Correspondence, lists, and printed materials document the Mecklenburg petition. Finally, correspondence, notes, reports, guidelines and printed materials on Norplant and oral contraceptives are included here.

The final section in the Reproductive rights subseries contains correspondence, printed materials, reports, and notes, on the Network's campaign against the C.R.A.C.K program which offered monetary incentives to drug and alcohol abusers to participate in long term or permanent birth control.

The twenty-fourth subseries, Sterilization abuse, relates to the Network's project to bring together major women's health groups in New York City working on sterilization abuse, to assist them to monitor NYC's municipal hospitals. It contains an abstract of the project; correspondence; a press release by the Network; completed questionnaires; mailing lists from a survey of sterilization practices; and miscellaneous correspondence, printed materials, and notes.

In 2001 the Network surveyed young women about their most import health issue. The twenty-fifth subseries, Survey of Young Women, contains returned questionnaires, survey results, and correspondence.

In 1980 epidemiologists reported the appearance of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) which correlated with a superabsorbent tampons, Rely, introduced in 1978 by Procter and Gamble. The Toxic Shock Syndrome Task Force was created to investigate the epidemic as the number of reported cases increased. The CDC reported that users of Rely were at increased risk for developing TSS and Procter and Gamble recalled the product. The NWHN advocated adequate pre-market testing of tampons, proper labeling for tampon ingredients and absorbency, and presented testimony at FDA hearings. The twenty-sixth subseries, Tampons and toxic shock syndrome, reflects this campaign. It contains printed materials correspondence, and notes regarding absorbency and tampon labeling; and general correspondence on TSS, including letters requesting TSS/tampon information. It also includes correspondence, testimonies and statements, reports, and meeting materials related to the Network's relationship to the FDA and tampons. The Network requested a list of tampon ingredients from suppliers and there is a folder of replies from tampon manufacturers. The Network produced a packet of information on TSS, and a related report is included her, as well as press releases, and miscellaneous printed material. There are eight files of reports, meeting materials, participants, correspondence, and notes from the Tampons Task Force, followed by correspondence, printed materials, and Network position papers on contraceptive sponges as an alternative to tampons. In 1984 the FDA's Division of Consumer Affairs had a pilot program to education teenagers about TSS. The "Toxic Shock Syndrome and Tampons Pilot Education Program Evaluation" assesses this program. Finally there is a folder of miscellaneous printed materials and notes.

The Title X Family Planning Program was enacted in 1970 to provide comprehensive family planning and other preventive health services to low income or uninsured people who might not otherwise have access to these health care services. The Network supported this program and pressured the government to continue funding when it was threatened. Included in this twenty-seventh subseries, Title X, are notes, correspondence, and printed materials on program regulations; correspondence related to school based clinics (Title X and Senate 881); correspondence and meeting materials from the Title X Coalition; and miscellaneous material including letters to Congress and the Administration.

Weight discrimination advocacy, the twenty-eighth subseries, contains printed materials, correspondence, and meeting agendas which relate to healthy weight, medical treatment of obesity, weight discrimination, and fitness.

The NWHN was one of the first national organizations to alert women to their risk of AIDS. In 1988 the Network proposed a comprehensive study of women specifically related to HIV prevention. This included making AIDS information accessible, creating a forum for women at risk, advocating for prevention methods, and organizing a comprehensive survey of health agencies, the ultimate goal of which was to enable the Network and other organizations to make policy recommendations to better meet prevention needs. The twenty-ninth subseries, Women and AIDS Project, consists of material related to several aspects of this project. The Women and Aids Advocacy Project was aimed at minority women in high risk communities and its goal was to "integrate women's needs into public policy." The first section describes this project.

In 1987 the Network developed an AIDS Education Activity Workshop to reach college age women by using games, contests, skits, and questionnaires. Correspondence, descriptions, notes, evaluations, and printed materials document the workshop. There are notes and forms for a possible registry of women with HIV. In 1991 the Network helped sponsor Women's Voices: Speaking AIDS. There are proposals, correspondence and a report from this conference, along with a folder of notes and printed materials related to miscellaneous AIDS conferences with which NWHN was associated. In 1997 Mia Luluquisen produced a report on the epidemiology of AIDS and this report is included along with a literature review. Files of correspondence, printed materials, agendas, and reports from eight AIDS organizations with which the Network was in cooperation or affiliated with are also found here. Included in the publications reports and statements section is promotion for Chris Norwood's Advice for Life: a Woman's guide to AIDS Risks and Prevention; correspondence and printed materials related to the Network's brochure "AIDS What Every Woman Needs to Know;" and miscellaneous reports and public statements among them the final report of the Women and AIDs Project. There is also a file containing notes and ideas for a seminar on AIDS.

The Network conducted a number of surveys in connection with this project. These are arranged chronologically. In 1988 it conducted a survey of hospitals on AIDS transmission in pregnancy. Included are replies from the hospitals and statistical summaries. In 1990-91 the Network conducted a survey of states and U.S. territories, District of Columbia, military and Indian health services regarding the policies they had in place related to women and AIDS. There are four folders of contact sheets, replies from state health departments filed by state and miscellaneous health services along with a report that came out of the survey. In 1991 an AIDS network phone tree was devised to explain the project to interested groups. Included is a phone script, lists of contacts, notes, and correspondence for the phone tree. Finally in 1997 the Network conducted an AIDS Prevention Survey of states and U.S. territories to identify current HIV prevention recommendations given to women. This section contains survey results, a final report, contact lists, correspondence, and notes.

The Women and Smoking Project is the thirtieth subseries. One of NWHN's efforts was against cigarette advertising directed toward women. In particular it targeted and picketed the Virginia Slims Tennis Tournament in 1985. There is a folder of notes, printed materials, and press releases related to Virginia Slims as well as other tobacco companies' advertisements. A folder of miscellaneous materials includes an agenda of the Women's Smoking Project, printed materials and notes on the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids, and a copy of Women and Smoking: A National and State by State Report Card published by the National Women's Law Center.

The thirty-first subseries is Women of Color. The Black Women's Health Project (the first subseries of this series) was originally a component of this project. Because it became a separate entity, this subseries encompasses the Network's advocacy for Latinas, Chicanas, Native American Women and other women of color. The first file contains a copy of "Chicanas as Healers" by board member Sandra Salazar followed by printed materials, meeting and workshop agendas, notes, and correspondence from the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies. Correspondence and a report from the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center reflect the Network's opposition to the closure of the Indian Health Service's Wagner (South Dakota) Service Unit inpatient services. In 1985 the Network sponsored a public hearing on the health needs and health concerns of women of color, and there are advertisements, lists of hearing officers and presenters, and printed materials. Finally there is a miscellaneous folder including printed materials, a list of women of color groups, and reports.

The thirty-second subseries is on Women's clinics. Between 1985 and 2000 the NWHN generated various lists of women's clinics. There is a folder of lists and one of related correspondence and printed materials. In 1990 the Network supported a clinic survey conducted by Sandra Morgen as part of a book project on the women's health movement. There is folder of correspondence and copies of Morgen's final writing.

In 1983 the NWHN compiled an analysis of the voting records of members of Congress during the 1983 congressional year. The thirty-third subseries, Women's Health Vote, contains the report of the analysis along with notes, correspondence and printed material.

Closely related is the final subseries, Women's Vote Project. The Network was part of a coalition seeking to register women to vote before the 1984 November election. This subseries contains a project description, consultant agreement, a voter registration notebook, and printed materials related to voting records of the candidates.

Dates of Materials

  • 1963-2007

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection:

This collection is open for research use with the following restrictions on access:

Internally-facing records and correspondence are restricted for research use for ten years after their creation date.

A portion of the Depo-Provera registry in Series IX is closed until 2065.

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063