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Adrienne Germain papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00778

Scope and Contents

The collection contains materials related to Adrienne Germain's work with the Ford Foundation and the International Women's Health Coalition, including essays, research materials, and correspondence. The collection also contains awards and honors received at school and later in Germain's career, as well as photographs and notes from colleagues and friends.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1964 - 2016


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Adrienne Germain 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 Adrienne Germain, 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

Throughout her career, Adrienne Germain has been a major force advancing international women's health and human rights in low income countries, and has made this work central to the missions of many international organizations. Born in San Francisco in 1947 to William and Carel Germain, Germain graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 with a B.A. and from University of California at Berkeley in 1971 with an M.A., both in sociology. Germain began her career at the Population Council in 1970, where for two years she undertook family planning program research. She started work with the Ford Foundation in 1972, where she became the youngest and first woman to be appointed as a Resident Representative to Bangladesh. In this role she worked to shift discussion of population issues to a reproductive health lens. She rose to the role of Vice President of and Program Director for the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) in 1985, where she drove policy analysis and conceptual development, supervised numerous programs and local groups in Asia, Africa, and Latin America addressing women's reproductive health rights, produced scholarship, and advised the U.S. State Department, NGOs, European governments, and the U.N. system. By 1994, Germaine's influence had led to the consensus that women's sexual and reproductive health rights were central to women's human rights, sustainable development, and population stabilization. In 1998, with the retirement of Joan Banks Dunlop, Germain became president of the IWHC. She went on to work for United Nations Population Fund as a consultant for their Reproductive Health Branch from 2011-2014. Germain has received many prestigious awards, among them the United Nations Population Award in 2012 and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Bard College in 2001.

More information on the International Women’s Health Coalition's history specifically is available in this downloadable document: "Having Our Say: Intellectual Contributions on Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health by the International Women’s Health Coalition, 1987-2011" by Adrienne Germain.

The following text was prepared by Adrienne Germain before her chosen death on May 19, 2022.

"My life was deeply rewarding and largely self-determined, reflecting my conviction that, as Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, 'There is no more liberating, no more exhilarating experience than to determine one’s position, state it bravely and then act boldly.' As aging reduced my autonomy and freedom to live fully as I wished, I decided to end my life voluntarily while happy, healthy and at peace, true to myself and my values. I hope that the laws and norms that forced me to act in secret will soon change to respect and support the right to a thoughtfully chosen death."


4.063 linear feet (4 containers)

Language of Materials



The Adrienne Germain papers contain the working papers of Adrienne Germain, a champion for women's health and human rights in low-income countries, including essays, research materials, and correspondence related to her work with the Ford Foundation and the International Women's Health Coalition.


The collection is arranged into two series: professional materials and writings. The materials in each series are roughly arranged in chronological order.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted to Smith College by Adrienne Germain in 2016.


Periodic accruals may be added to the collection.

Related Materials

Carel B. Germain Papers. Joan Dunlop Papers. Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in March 2019 by student worker Sky Karp. The collection contained many loose materials not in folders. The collection was re-organized into folders, chronologically ordered, and publications and writings were separated from professional work (ultimately resulting in the two series). Books were also separated from other materials and put in chronological order (based on publication date). Nothing was removed from the collection.

Finding Aid to the Adrienne Germain papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Sky Karp
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 with DACS and further notes.
  • 2019-03-29: Processed collection

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063