Beth Jacobs papers
Scope and Contents
Papers include correspondence, speeches, clippings, photographs, video tape, writings, and printed material relating to family planning, sex education, family life and health, child welfare association, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation and the Beth Jacobs Family Planning Clinic in Jamaica, 1950-1998.
Dates of Materials
- 1934 - 2006
- Jacobs, Una Elizabeth (Person)
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
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
Una Elizabeth (Beth) Wilson Jacobs was a politician and leader in the Jamaican birth control and family planning movement. Her life’s work was to advance sex education and access to contraception in Jamaica.
Jacobs was born in Jamaica in 1917 to Dr. Wilbert Wilson and Una Jeffrey-Smith Wilson. She attended school at St. Hilda's Diocesan High School at Brown's Town, where her mother was headmistress. She then taught at Hillcrest Preparatory School as a music and later kindergarten teacher before marrying Dr. Lenworth “Len” Jacobs, a Howard University-educated surgeon, in 1944. The pair settled in St. Ann's Bay and raised two children, Carol and Lenworth Jr.
She began work in 1948 on what would eventually become the Beth Jacobs Clinic with the help of an American philanthropist. The clinic offered contraception, sex education, and support groups to local women and teenagers. In 1962, the Beth Jacobs Clinic and the older Jamaica Family Planning Association, organized by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, were the only two clinics offering family planning services in Jamaica. Jacobs began the trial of a sex education program in Jamaican schools in 1950. She pushed for sex education to become an official part of Jamaican schools’ curriculum, an effort which was strenuously resisted and by 1960 had still not succeeded. Between 1958 and 1961 Jacobs served as president of the Western hemisphere branch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Jacobs was also active in Jamaican politics. From 1957 to 1961 Jacobs served in the Legislative Council, the pre-independence equivalent of the current Upper House of the Parliament of Jamaica. She was the first Black Jamaican woman appointed to the position, and in 1960 became the first woman to preside over a meeting of the Legislative Council. Jacobs also served as the first Jamaican-born woman to lead the Child Welfare Association (1958 to 1960). Before her, the position had traditionally been occupied by the white wives of Jamaican governors.
Her other positions included Chairman of the Board of Governors of St. Hilda's High School and President of the St. Ann Police Youth Club.
Jacobs published several books on family planning, including Hints for You & Your Baby, Thoughts Today for Tomorrow, and The Family and Family Planning in the West Indies, which she co-wrote with her husband.
4.313 linear feet (8 containers)
Language of Materials
Beth Jacobs was a birth control activist and member of the Legislative Council of Jamaica. Her papers include correspondence, speeches, clippings, photographs, video tape, writings, and printed material relating to family planning, sex education, family life and health, child welfare association, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation and the Beth Jacobs Family Planning Clinic in Jamaica, 1950-1998.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was gifted by Doris Hirsch, Beth Jacobs, and Barbara Jacobs between 1997 and 2006.
- Birth control -- Jamaica
- Birth control movement
- Black women
- Child welfare -- Jamaica -- 20th century
- Hirsch, Doris
- Jacobs, Una Elizabeth
- Jamaica -- Social conditions
- Politics and government
- Sex instruction -- Jamaica -- 20th century
- Hirsch, Doris (Person)
- Jacobs, Una Elizabeth (Person)
- Jacobs, Barbara (Person)
- Finding aid to the Beth Jacobs papers
- Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
- Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2017-07-26T17:48:14-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2018-10-18: Updated to conform to DACS
- 2019-03-27: Made paper FA pencil edit changes and updated finding aid
- 2021-07-26: Added content listing
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
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