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National Women's Health Network records

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00360

Scope and Contents

The National Women's Health Network records consist of records dating from 1963-2011, with the bulk of the records dating from 1976-2000. There is historical and organizational material, but the most of the records document the activities, programs, and projects over a thirty year period. Types of material include correspondence; memoranda; records of the Committees, Board of Directors and Executive Committee; annual reports; material from conferences and meetings; funding proposals, Senate and House testimonies, legal documents and court cases; financial records; program descriptions and reports, publications and articles, research papers; files of affiliated organizations; printed materials; photographs and audiovisual materials. These records provide a rich source of information on the battle for quality health care for women and reflect the NWHN as advocate, information provider, and front line activist organization. Of particular interest are files on breast cancer and tamoxifen, Depo-Provera, reproductive rights and abortion, Dalkon Shield, and consumer protection and the related legal and legislative campaigns. Documents related to the Network's class action suits against A.H. Robins and Upjohn regarding the Dalkon Shield and Depo-Provera are of particular interest, as are those related to tamoxifen clinical trials. Materials related to key subject areas can be found throughout the records and researchers are encouraged to look at all the series for topics of interest.

Dates of Materials

  • 1963 - 2021

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use with the following restrictions on access:

Internally-facing records and correspondence are restricted for research use for ten years after their creation date.

A portion of the Depo-Provera registry in Series IX is closed until 2065.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, the National Women's Health Network 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 National Women's Health Network, 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

The National Women's Health Network is a non-profit women's health advocacy organization. It's goals include creating a health care public policy that reflects and responds to the diversity of women's experiences; advocating women's self-determination in all aspects of their reproductive and sexual health; establishing universal health care that meets the needs of diverse women; monitoring the actions of federal regulatory and funding agencies, industry, and health care professions; providing women with objective health information from a feminist viewpoint; and supporting grassroots action.

Created at the height of second wave feminism, the National Women's Health Network was an outgrowth of informal groups of women sharing their experiences. It was founded in 1975 by Barbara Seamon, Alice Wolfson, Belita Cowan, Mary Howell, and Phyllis Chesler as a lobby group for women's health advocacy and quickly expanded to become a clearinghouse for women's health information. It began as the Women's Health Lobby, later called the National Women's Health Lobby Network, and finally the National Women's Health Network. Since its beginnings, the Network has waged numerous legal battles and organized public education campaigns to increase women's input into the U.S. health care system. These include the first Diethylstilbestrol (DES) class action lawsuit on behalf of DES daughters, class action lawsuits against A.H. Robbins manufacturer of the contraceptive intrauterine device, Dalkon Shield, and against the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company on the use of the contraceptive Depo-Provera. In addition the Network organized a Citizen's Petition to the FDA requesting that the Dalkon Shield be declared a banned product. The Network successfully persuaded the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to require studies on the safety of breast implants and to establish mandatory standards on absorbency labeling for tampons to reduce preventable cases of toxic shock syndrome. It also exposed the scientific inadequacies in the clinical trials of tamoxifen. Its information packets and publications provide information to millions of women on a wide range of topics. The Black Women's Health Project (now the Black Women's Health Imperative) was originally a project of the NWHN. It also continues to assist and support local activists in their efforts to expose environmental and occupational health problems, support reproductive rights for all and the health needs of midlife and elderly women.

Currently, the Network is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with affiliates in New Mexico and New Jersey. It has 11,000 (as of December 2011) individual members.

Additional information can be found on the organization's website: http://nwhn.org/

Extent

0.5909 Gigabytes (4,810 digital files)

18 Gigabytes (17 digital files, including 285,678 messages and attachments)

157.564 linear feet (291 containers)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Non-profit women's health advocacy organization focusing on the diversity of women's experiences; advocating women's self-determination in all aspects of their reproductive and sexual health; establishing universal health care that meets the needs of diverse women; monitoring the actions of federal regulatory and funding agencies, industry, and health care professions; providing women with objective health information from a feminist viewpoint; and supporting grassroots action. The records document activities, programs, and projects over more than thirty years.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into fifteen series: Multiple accessions have been added as additional series.

  1. I. HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION (1977-2006)
  2. II. ADMINISTRATION (1976-2004)
  3. III. COMMITTEES (1978-2004
  4. IV. PERSONNEL AND BOARD MEMBERS (1979-2007
  5. V. MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCIAL MATERIALS (1977-2006)
  6. VI. PUBLICATIONS AND REPORTS (1976-2005)
  7. VII. CORRESPONDENCE (1977-2006)
  8. VIII. CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS (1977-2011)
  9. IX. PROJECTS, PROGRAMS, AND REFORM EFFORTS (1963-2007)
  10. X. COURT CASES AND LEGISLATION
  11. XI. OUTREACH AND PUBLIC RELATIONS (1977-2005)
  12. XII. AFFILIATES (1978-88)
  13. XIII. ORGANIZATION FILES (1978-2005)
  14. XIV. SUBJECTS AND REFERENCE FILES (1972-2002)
  15. XV. PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS (1981-2002)

Arrangement

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. Note that in most cases, container numbers start over at 1 with each new accession.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

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.

Other Finding Aids

One or more content listings to individual accessions in this collection are available for download. Links can be found in the description of the individual accessions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the National Women's Health Network, 1987-2022.

Related Materials

Additional records can be found in the papers of Katsi Cook and Loretta Ross and the records of the Black Women's Health Imperative. In addition there is information about the Network in the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project in the interviews with Katsi Cook and Loretta Ross.

Processing Information

Processed by Susan Boone, 2012.

The contents of 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. Some media was unable to be copied.

Accession 2022-S-0002 was accessioned by Claire Clusin, Amy Kitmacher, and Althea Topek in 2022. The materials in this accession arrived with description provided by Cindy Pearson and remain in her original order. Her description has been summarized in the series and sib-series scope and contents notes.

Title
Finding Aid to the National Women's Health Network records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Susan Boone.
Date
2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
Processing of the National Women's Health Network Records was made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:17-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018-12-04: Archived website added
  • 2019-04-23: Made paper FA pencil edit changes up to p.169.
  • 2020-07-16: Description added for born-digital content.
  • 2022-01-06: Description added for accession 2021-S-0015.
  • 2022-03-02: Integrated description of oversized materials
  • 2022-04-21: Added Accession 2022-S-0002.
  • 2022-06-08: Corrected access restrictions

Repository Details

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

Contact:
Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063