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Diana Russell papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SSC-MS-00752

Scope and Contents

The papers consist primarily of the "930 completed interview schedules about women's experiences of rape, incest, extrafamilial child sexual abuse, etc." done in 1978 under the direction of Russell at the Institute for Social Analysis, the results formed the core material for her 1986 publication,"The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women."Interviewee names and identifying information is not included in the schedules. A small amount of biographical material about Diana Russell is also included in the final box.

Dates of Materials

  • 1978-2006


Conditions Governing Access

All materials in this collection will be closed to research until January 2027. In addition, any research interviews conducted by Russell with women that discuss their sexual assaults wherein the identities of research subjects are revealed will be closed to research until 75 years after the interview was conducted.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that the Diana E.H. Russell Revocable Trust owns copyright, the Trust has assigned to Smith College all intellectual property rights in these materials; 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 Diana Russell, 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

Diana Elizabeth Hamilton Russell was born in Cape Town, South Africa where she earned her undergraduate degree in 1958. After doing postgraduate work at the London School of Economics, Russell came to the United States and attended Harvard University where she earned an MA (1967) and a PhD (1970) in Social Psychology. She started teaching at Mills College in 1969 and was one of the leaders in establishing the Women's Studies major there. Russell's scholarship and her activism has focused on the fight to end violence against women, beginning with her 1975 publication,"The Politics of Rape."She has published several more books and dozens of articles linking pornography to violence against women, exposing the horrors of child sexual abuse and incest, and, with co-author Jill Radford in 1992,"coined the term"femicide."Russell has also published on the women of South Africa where she actively protested against apartheid from the early 1960s onward and has been arresting several times for her actions. A professor emerita since 1991, Russell has become a renowned speaker appearing on countless radio and television shows, from National Public Radio to the Oprah Show, and has been called as an expert witness in cases related to rape and violence against women. Leading feminist legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon has said of Russell that she"is the recognized academic expert on the empirical study of sexual violence against women in the United States, and a leading authority on this subject throughout the world."She is also an activist, including the founding of Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media in 1976, the first feminist anti-pornography organization in the US. For more information, see Diana Russell's Web site:


16.25 linear feet (13 boxes.)

Language of Materials



The papers consist primarily of the "930 completed interview schedules about women's experiences of rape, incest, extrafamilial child sexual abuse, etc." done in 1978 under the direction of Russell at the Institute for Social Analysis.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted by Diana Russell in 2015.

Related Materials

Related collections include: Esther Rothblum papers, Kitty Sklar papers, Papers of Catharine MacKinnon (at Harvard Library), and Papers of Susan Brownmiller (at Harvard Library).

Finding aid to the Diana Russell papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Madison White
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.
  • 2018-10-18: Updated to conform to DACS
  • 2022-04-28: Updated access and use restrictions
  • 2022-11-15: Updated use restrictions and related materials

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063