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Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project oral histories

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00406

Scope and Contents

The Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, includes accounts of individuals throughout the world who have made important contributions to the field. Reflecting the voices and perspectives of advocates, communication specialists, lawyers, managers, physicians, researchers, social workers and others, the series addresses the historical period 1965-2005.

There are forty-one audio recorded interviews with complete transcripts for each. Project records include correspondence and emails between project staff and narrators; and biographical materials, some of which include writings. Jack Smith's professional files include memoranda, emails, correspondence, newsletters, reports, database searches, and project proposals pertaining to the planning and execution of the History Project. They also document some of the important events in the history of the reproductive health movement since 1965. Also included are writings by Deborah McFarlane.

Selected transcripts have been digitized and are available on the SSC Web site.

Dates

  • 1971-2006

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection except for the following interviews: Mohammed Alauddin, Peter J. Donaldson, Elizabeth Maguire, and Margaret Neuse. See box list below for specific closure periods.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections (specialcollections@smith.edu) at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to all of the oral histories except for the interview with Mercedes Concepción who has retained copyright to her interview. Requests for permission to publish quotations should be addressed to the Sophia Smith Collection.

Biographical / Historical

The Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project began as a discussion in the Population, Reproductive Health, and Family Planning section of the American Public Health Association in the late 1990s. In her newsletter message to the section membership, Deborah R. McFarlane, then chair, discussed the need for archiving the papers of people in the field who were retiring and asked for ideas. Jack C. Smith, an eminent statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), read the column and called Deborah. "Not only do the papers of prominent people in our field need to be saved," he said, "but we need to save their stories. These stories are far more compelling than statistics." Jack convinced Deborah and many others of the need to conduct an oral history project with leaders in the population and reproductive health movements.

Jack retired shortly after and spent the next several years looking for an appropriate repository, speaking with oral historians, professional organizations, and friends in the field. He secured funding for a pilot project interviewing the directors of the Division of Reproductive Health at CDC: these interviews were conducted by Rebecca Sharpless, director of the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University. Sadly, Jack died in October 2000, but not before he had identified the Sophia Smith Collection (SSC) at Smith College--following discussions with its director, Sherrill Redmon--as the best place to preserve the interviews and make them available for research. He was impressed with the commitment of the SSC to documenting the history of women's health and the reproductive rights movement and felt that the project's records would be a logical complement to the SSC's impressive holdings on the subject, including the Margaret Sanger Papers, the archives of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and many other collections.

In 2001, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, in Menlo Park, California, generously awarded funding to Deborah R. McFarlane of the University of New Mexico for this project. Dr. J. Joseph Speidel, then population program director at Hewlett, has continued to assist the project with his connections to key figures throughout the field.

To preserve the accounts and papers of pioneers in population and reproductive health, McFarlane enlisted the support of the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and the Institute of Oral History at Baylor University. The thirty-eight interviews were conducted by Rebecca Sharpless and Deborah McFarlane between 2002 and 2005. The oral history tapes and transcripts arrived at the SSC beginning in 2005, where they were edited and processed by oral historian Revan Schendler.

Some of narrators in the Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project have agreed to donate their papers to the SSC. Others will donate their papers to the Francis Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University, or other appropriate archives. Where known, this information is included in the list of narrators.

Extent

60 boxes (28 linear feet)

Overview

Forty-one interviews (with complete transcripts) of individuals throughout the world who have made important contributions to the reproductive health movement since 1965. Includes reproductive health advocates, communication specialists, lawyers, managers, physicians, researchers, social workers and others. The series addresses the historical period 1965-2005.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into three series:
  1. I. ADMINISTRATIVE FILES AND PROJECT HISTORY
  2. II. TRANSCRIPTS includes the full transcript (except where restricted sections have been removed), brief biographies, and notes.
  3. III. BACKGROUND MATERIALS contains additional biographical information, research materials, correspondence and emails, notes, release forms, publications, annotated transcripts, audiotapes, and audio-only DVDs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Jack Smith donated his original project records to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2000. Thirty-eight interviews were conducted by Rebecca Sharpless and Deborah McFarlane between 2002 and 2005, and Deborah McFarlane facilitated the transfer of the completed interviews and transcripts to the SSC from 2005-2007, where they were edited and processed by oral historian Revan Schendler.

Additional Formats

Audio recordings of interviews have been copied to CDRom for research use.

Transcripts are available in both paper and electronic formats.

Selected transcripts have been digitized and are available on the SSC Web site.

Related Material

Selected transcripts have been digitized and are available on the SSC Web site.

Processing Information

Processed by Revan Schendler and Burd Schlessinger, 2006-2007.
Title
Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project oral histories
Subtitle
Finding Aid
Author
Revan Schendler and Burd Schlessinger
Date
2007
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Sponsor
Project funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

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)
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:18-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

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

Contact:
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063