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Nanette K. Gartrell papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00757

Scope and Contents

The collection documents Gartrell's personal and professional life and contains, but is not limited to, correspondence, clippings, audiovisual materials, transcripts, publications, conference materials, and data. It is comprised of materials concerning Gartrell's advocacy for women's rights and LGBT people within the American Psychiatric Association; educational programs to promote non-homophobic healthcare at Harvard Medical School; the lesbian physician's conference, Women in Medicine; resistance to the American Psychiatric Association's efforts to obstruct her studies on sexually abusive psychitrists; studies on sexual abuse by medical professionals; her U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study; and Gartrell's relationship with Dee (Diane) Mosbacher, MD, PhD. Included is a bound copy of Gartrell's oral history as part of the Stanford University Archives and a video recorded interview of Gartrell conducted by Esther Rothblum.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1949 - 2021


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use with the following restrictions on access: At the direction of the donor, the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) interviews, 1986-ongoing are closed until the NLLFS is completed and the SSC has been so notified by the donor, or until the SSC receives notification of donor's death. The interviews will all be redacted; when opened, the NLLFS interviews may be used to describe the study or obtain quotes from the participants. The NLLFS interviews may NOT be used for the purpose of coding or tabulating responses, or for any data analytical purpose without donor's express permission, or until 10 years after donor's death.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works created by Nanette K. Gartrell in this collection. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Nanette K. Gartrell, born in 1949, grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. She attended Stanford University (B.A., 1972) and the University of California (M.D., 1976). She received her psychiatric training at Harvard Medical School (1976-1979). Gartrell served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School (1976-1987) and was on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco (1988-2011). Since 2009, she has been Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, and had a Guest Appointment at the University of Amsterdam. Gartrell was the first openly lesbian physician of Harvard Medical School's full-time faculty and the youngest psychiatrist to chair the American Psychiatric Association's Committee on Women.

In her official capacity as an advocate for women's mental health, she surveyed physicians about sexual contact with patients and became internationally known for her research on ethics in medicine. Based in part on Gartrell's research and publications, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association amended their ethics codes to rule sexual involvement with current or former patients unacceptable. Gartrell's work on ethics was also featured in the PBS Frontline documentary, My Doctor, My Lover. Gartrell is best known as principal researcher of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, the longest-running, ongoing study of lesbian families with children conceived through donor insemination during the lesbian baby boom of the 1980s. Research publications resulting from this work have been cited internationally in litigation and legislation concerning equality in marriage, foster care, and adoption, and were noted in briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. The findings from Gartrell's studies also played a critical role in the American Academy of Pediatrics' affirmation of same-gender marriage.

Gartrell and her spouse, Dee Mosbacher, MD, PhD, have been together since 1975 and were first married in San Francisco in 2004. A few months later, when the California State Supreme Court annulled all the recently performed same-sex marriage, the couple married again in British Columbia. Together they have endowed the Mosbacher/Gartrell Center for Media Experimentation and Activism at Pitzer College, a professional-standard post-production facility as a way of ensuring that the work of filmmakers, like Woman Vision, will continue as long as it is needed.


3.6 Gigabytes (3 files: 2 video recordings and 1 audio recording; 75 files (photos))

4.792 linear feet (7 containers)


Nanette K. Gartrell, born in 1949, is an American psychiatrist, researcher, lesbian activist and author. The collection documents Gartrell's personal and professional life and is comprised of materials concerning Gartrell's advocacy for women's rights and LGBT people within the American Psychiatric Association; educational programs to promote non-homophobic healthcare; the lesbian physician's conference, Women in Medicine; studies on sexual abuse and her U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study; and Gartrell's relationship with Dee (Diane) Mosbacher, MD, PhD.


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.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Nanette K. Gartrell, 2015-2021.

Additional material received directly from the Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program, at the request of Dr. Gartrell.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection is comprised of the following accessions, some of which may not have accession records. Accession numbers: 15S-88, 16S-18, 2019-S-0042, and 2021-S-0004. Accessions were received on the following dates: 2015-10-26, 2016-03-03, 2019, and 2021.

Related Materials

Related materials may be found in the following collections at the Sophia Smith Collection:

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2016-S-0018, Boxes 1-2 renumbered as Boxes 4-5

Finding Aid to the Nanette K. Gartrell papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Finding aid prepared by .
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:23-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2020-04-16: Added accession 15S-88
  • 2020-10-29: Added new file, Accession 2019-S-0042
  • 2021-03-25: Added Accession 2021-S-0004
  • 2022-11-02: Added Accession 2021-S-0005
  • Location of donor files

Repository Details

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

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063