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Martha Scott papers regarding Jane: The Abortion Counseling Service

Identifier: SSC-MS-00820

Scope and Contents

Martha Scott’s collection of instruments were regularly used for aspiration abortions by the Abortion Counseling Service (Jane) in Chicago from 1969-1973. Instruments in this collection include: catheters, specula, syringes, a stethoscope, an IUD model, a rack for Pap smears, cannulas, a mesh strainer, curettes, forceps, and part of a hood lamp used during procedures. Also included are a small amount of organizational papers from the Emma Goldman Women’s Clinic, articles from the Voice on “The Most Remarkable Abortion Story Ever Told”, an account of Martha Scott's arrest, teaching materials, and Martha Scott’s booking photograph and bail bond receipt.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1969 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

The medical instruments in this collection are not governed by copyright. Other materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. 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. 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 / Historical

[Martha wrote] this brief description of [herself] in case [her] background is of use to understand what happened in the last quarter of the 20th century:

My family was part of the migration from eastern cities to California in the years following WWII.  I was born in Brooklyn in 1942, my background is Eastern European Jewish, with some tinges of midcentury Socialism.  We moved when I was in grammar school so most of my early years were spent in San Diego, California, a very different place and atmosphere from New York, perhaps more racially diverse but much more conservative politically and socially.  I am product of that city’s public school system, San Diego High School class of 1959.  I went to the University of Chicago and was graduated in 1963.  

I stayed in Hyde Park, the U of C neighborhood after graduation. I married and had children immediately upon leaving the university and maintained a low level interest in social issues.  Hyde Park was an easy community in which to do this and it included some political volunteer work for progressive candidates as well as anti-war protests and civil rights.  My involvement with feminist issues came through a friend and neighbor.  She and I met at the playground often with our children and she invited me to join, or at least consider joining a group she was part of that did support for women needing abortions. It seemed an easy and not too time consuming way to do some good about an issue I could readily understand and appreciate.  This was 1969.  Ultimately I did join the Abortion Counseling Service and for the next 3 years found myself more and more involved in its work and workings.  The group moved from support to actually participation in the abortion process; ultimately it was all done by the group’s members.  I realized how little the illegality of the situation mattered to me; this was also true when we learned that the practioners we used weren’t doctors.  My arrest in this context added to what could be described as my expanding political education.

After Roe v. Wade the Abortion Counseling Service ceased to work but many of us felt we could use some of what we learned in another, perhaps more legal setting.  I was part of the group that opened the Emma Goldman Clinic in Chicago. We offered paramedic services such as Pap smear screening, breast exams and reproductive education. We were not able to prescribe.  I stayed with that group less than a year.  Otherwise I and other members of Jane taught classes in the public schools, some nearby community colleges. 

The preceding paragraphs speak to a very short time in my adult life but obviously one that I found significant and much of which I am very proud.  Since then there have been lots of opportunities to apply a world view which requires people (that’s me) to act, agitate, speak up for, etc., important issues, coupled with the belief that the most ordinary among us can and should do so.  

I have retired but did work for 20 years at the University of Chicago Dept. of Psychology in a lab that studied cognitive issues. I retired in 2007.  Mostly my work was office support and some data gathering.  In another, even more prosaic area, I have 4 children and 8 grandchildren, all of whom give me great pleasure. 

Martha Scott September 2021

Source: Martha Scott, email message to Special Collections staff, September 14, 2021.


2.313 linear feet (4 containers)

Language of Materials



Martha Scott was a member of the Abortion Counseling Service (Jane) and the Emma Goldman Women's Clinic from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The collection of instruments were regularly used for aspiration abortions by members of Jane in Chicago from 1969-1973.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Martha Scott in 2021 and 2022.


In 2021, the material in this collection was selected for permanent retention within the Sophia Smith Collection by Maureen Cresci Callahan as unusual and extraordinary evidence of illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade.

Processing Information

This collection was accessioned by Althea Topek in October 2021 and November 2022. During accessioning, duplicates were discarded and instruments were rehoused.



Finding aid to the Martha Scott collection of instruments used by Jane: The Abortion Counseling Service
Althea Topek
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063