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Joan Banks Dunlop papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00707

Scope and Contents

The collection contains Joan Banks Dunlop's personal and professional papers, including correspondence, reports, daybooks and monthly calendars, legal documents, diaries, and photographs (most unidentified). Especially well documented is Dunlop's work with the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) and A Women's Lens on Global Issues.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1916 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use with following restrictions on access: At the direction of the donor, materials related to Joan Dunlop's divorce from Peter Dunlop and from Ed Deagle to be closed for 15 years (Jan. 1, 2028). Materials related to Adrienne Germain's departure from IWHC and Francoise Girard's appointment as President of IWHC to be closed for 20 years (Jan. 1, 2033).

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Joan Banks Dunlop has assigned the copyright in her works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Joan Banks Dunlop, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical Note

Joan Marie Banks was born in London, England, the daughter of Sir Maurice and Anne Banks. Her mother was an American and when, as a young teenager, Dunlop visited the US, she then decided she wanted to live here. She applied and was accepted at Vassar College but her parents insisted that she attend a London secretarial school instead. After graduation, she worked for the BBC before emigrating to America in 1960.

After a brief stint at a Manhattan advertising agency, Dunlop went to work at the Ford Foundation (1960-1967) as an administrative assistant to the Director of Public Affairs, Paul Ylvisaker, at a time when the Public Affairs Programs would soon serve as the model for President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society/War on Poverty programs. In the late-1960s, she worked for the City of New York in the Mayor's Office of the Budget and at the Fund for the City of New York. During the 1970s, Dunlop worked as senior advisor to John D. Rockefeller, III, and provided administrative support to his organization, the Population Council where she worked to broaden the agency's research into gender roles and sexuality. According to her obituary in the New York Times (2012-07-01), "she introduced Mr. Rockefeller to feminist leaders, including Germaine Greer and Gloria Steinem."

In 1984, Dunlop became president of the organization which would become her life's work when she joined the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC). For the next fourteen years, she oversaw the tremendous growth of the IWHC as she secured its "reputation as an authoritative voice for women's perspectives in population policy."

When she left in 1998, Dunlop continued her work for women and reproductive rights around the world through an independent project, A Women's Lens on Global Issues. She carried on with her consulting work even after she began her third, and final, bout with breast cancer in 2006. Married and divorced twice, Joan Dunlop, according to the New York Times, "devoted herself to expanding women's rights to control their own bodies" (2012-07-01) and did so on a global scale.


12.438 linear feet (13 containers)

Language of Materials



The Joan Banks Dunlop collection documents the life and work of Dunlop, an activist and leader in women's rights and reproductive health. Especially well documented is the work Dunlop did with International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) and A Women's Lens on Global Issues.


The collection has been arranged so that related materials are located in the same folders. Professional records from various organizations that Dunlop worked in are at the beginning of the collection, in roughly chronological order, and other professional and personal records follow.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were donated by Joann R. West on 2012-12-10.


In 2019, approximately 5 record boxes of materials were removed from the collection. Of these, 4 record boxes contained Dunlop's personal financial and medical information, which was destroyed per the donor agreement. 1 record carton of materials was also destroyed that related to the Flora Murphy case (2002-2003) in which a woman going through a nasty divorce was charged with child abuse for not intervening when her teenage son sexually assaulted his younger sister. Donor decided to destroy this material, since many records contained records of a sexual assault on a minor, including the police report. The Flora Murphy material was in the collection because Dunlop and two other women came to the aid of Murphy, emotionally, legally and financially, and Dunlop created the Flora Murphy Fund to support Murphy through the trial. A small amount of duplicates were also removed from the collection and discarded.

Related Materials

Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project and Adrienne Germain papers

Processing Information

The collection came to the Smith College Special Collections in disarray. While there had been a filing system created by Dunlop, after her death many of the folders had been emptied and rearranged. By the time it came to the SCSC, it was unclear what the original system had been or what material belonged in which folder.

In 2019, a team of processors (Madison White, Scott Biddle, and two student workers, Isabel Montesanto and Sky Karp) began to rearrange the collection. Folders that were still intact were maintained, but all other material was rearranged into organizations or categories of material. Organizations were put into chronological order. Medical, financial, and other restricted material was removed. Restricted material that will be opened in future was placed in its own boxes.

Finding aid to the Joan Banks Dunlop papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Madison White and Scott Biddle
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018-10-04: Updated legacy finding aid and added several notes.
  • 2019-05-10: Updated to include new arrangement

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063