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National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women records

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00800

Scope and Contents

These records include documentation of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women's work since 1987, as well as information that NCDBW collected over time about the changing laws and resources for abused people who are prosecuted for crimes.

Materials include administrative and financial records, research, publications, conference and training materials, working papers for NCDBW's programs, and records of related organizations. Of particular interest is the annotated bibliography and associated research files, which compiled articles, resources, organizations, and individuals related to battered women defendants. Program files include information on NCDBW's projects advocating for legislative change, media campaigns on high profile cases and portrayals of battered women defendants, and the Battered Women's Justice Project.

There is also a small amount of material related to other organizations who worked with NCDBW or individual staff members, including the publications, program files, and event and conference papers. Organizations include National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), National Network for Women in Prison, VAWNet (a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence), National Institute of Justice, and the Domestic Violence Resource Network (DVRN).

Dates of Materials

  • 1986 - 2018

Creator

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 they own copyright, the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women have licensed ther materials to be freely used, so long as the user attributes materials' original authorship to them. This agreement is governed by a CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International) license. 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 the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, 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.

History of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

The National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women is the first and only national organization whose prime mission is to serve victims of battering charged with crimes related to their battering. The Clearinghouse works with people who are experiencing the criminal justice system — often arrested, facing trial, or serving prison sentences — because of their defenses against life-threattening violence at the hands of their abuser. This manifests as technical assistance to victims of battering and members of their defense teams.

The organization began in 1987 during a legal and cultural moment when the lived experiences of abused women were invisible to their communities and resources from police, the courts, and social services were absent. Yet, when battered people protected themselves or their children, they were vicorously prosecuted by the criminal justice system. Good legal representation was not available and few organizations could offer support.

Under the leadership of Sue Osthoff, Barbara Hart, and others, a group of women's rights advocates started with a brief manual to help advocates understand the relevant laws and most recent scholarship around intimate partner violence. Then NCDBW kept growing as an information organization — a place where the most relevant and important information could be gathered and re-distributed to advocates, defense attorneys, the media, and people navigating the criminal justice system.

With the passing of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the NCDBW was awarded a number of large, multi-year grants to support their work.

In addition to providing individualized technical assistance, National Clearinghouse staff conduct training seminars for members of the criminal justice and advocacy communities, and for the general public, regarding the unique experiences of battered defendants. Their resource library contains a comprehensive collection (over 11,000 entries) of articles, case law, litigation materials, and legislation relevant to victim defendants — victims of battering who find themselves in conflict with the law.

Extent

85.583 linear feet (79 containers)

.842 Gigabytes (2,633 digital files)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women's prime mission is to serve victims of battering charged with crimes related to their abuse. The Clearinghouse works with people who are experiencing the criminal justice system — often arrested, facing trial, or serving prison sentences — because of their defenses against life-threattening violence at the hands of their abuser. These records include documentation of the organization's work since 1987, as well as information that NCDBW collected over time about the changing laws and resources for abused people who are prosecuted for crimes.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into 5 series.

Series

  1. Staff files
  2. Publication and research files
  3. Programs, conferences, trainings, and events
  4. Other organizations and funders
  5. Administrative records

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials and computer media in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 2019, Sue Osthoff gifted the collection to the Sophia Smith Collection.

Appraisal

In 2019, 6 record cartons of duplicates and publications by other organizations were removed from the collection.

Related Materials

There is National Clearinghouse material at the University of Miami School of Law. There is additional material about legal defense of physically abused women in the Hedda Nussbaum papers and the Katherine Triantafillou papers in the Sophia Smith Collection.

Processing Information

In 2019, the collection came to the archive in 4 accessions. Madison White and 2 student workers arranged materials into series and subseries and created the finding aid for the collection. They did not arrange material beyond this, so papers are roughly in the order in which they came within sub-series.

The contents of all computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created.

Title
Finding aid to the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women records
Status
Enhanced Finding Aid (Completed)
Author
Madison White
Date
2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2019-12-05: Created new collection
  • 2020-02-06: Born digital content description added

Repository Details

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

Contact:
Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063