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Guide to Oral Histories in Medicine and the Health Sciences

Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College Libraries


List of Interviewees


  • Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project

  • PRH Physicians

  • WILLARD CATES, MD, MPH (b. Nov 16, 1942) is President and CEO of Family Health International, which he joined in 1996. Before joining FHI, he was at CDC for two decades, where he directed the STD/HIV Prevention efforts for half that time and headed CDC’s abortion surveillance activities for the other half.
  • PHIL DARNEY, MD, MSc, (b. is Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at San Francisco General Hospital and co-founder of the Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy at the University of California at San Francisco. He has done extensive work in contraceptive research, including clinical and acceptability trials of implant, injectable and oral contraceptives, contragestins and intrauterine devices.
  • MARIO JARAMILLO, MD (b. 1932) is an obstetrician-gynecologist who was active in the beginning of the Columbian family planning program. H has been an eloquent critic of USAID population and family planning policies and has consulted for reproductive health programs throughout the world. Discusses opposition of the Catholic Church to contraception.
  • MALCOLM POTTS, M.B., B.Chir, Ph.D., F.R.C.O.G. (b. January 8, 1935) served as Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation 1968-1972, President of Family Health International 1978-1990. His extensive publications cover contraception, international family planning, and the biology of human sexuality. Since 1992, he has been Bixby Professor of Population and Reproductive Health at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley http://sph.berkeley.edu/malcolm-potts
  • REIMERT RAVENHOLT, MD, MPH ( b. March 9, 1925) was the first Director of USAID=s Office of Population from 1966 to 1980. Widely credited for getting family planning programs started throughout the world and providing contraceptive supplies. Initiated the World Fertility Survey, reflecting his background in epidemiology. Ravenholt lives in Seattle and has extensive papers as well as a website. http://www.ravenholt.com/
  • ALLAN ROSENFIELD, MD, FACOG (b. April 28, 1933) was the Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and was the founding director of the Center for Population and Family Health until his passing on October 12, 2008. He has worked throughout the world, notably Thailand and Nigeria. Extensive research on maternal mortality and the need to incorporate maternal health services, including safe abortion, into reproductive health.
  • NAFIS SADIK, MD (b. 1929) is former head (1987-2000) of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, the first woman to head a major UN voluntarily-funded program. Appointed Secretary-General of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), 1994. Earlier work in Pakistan’s family planning program.
  • FRED SAI, MD, MPH (b. June 1924) has had a distinguished and multifaceted career in international health, nutrition, population, and family planning. Co-founded Ghana Planned Parenthood Association. Population Director, World Bank following 1984 Mexico City meeting. President, International Planned Parenthood Federation. Chairman, Main Committee of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo. Numerous publications and outspoken critic of female genital mutilation.
  • J JOSEPH SPEIDEL, MD, MPH (b. September 17, 1937) worked in USAID=s Office of Population from 1969 to 1983 and served as its second director from 1980 to 1983. He was e President of Population Action International from 1983 to 1994 and Director for the Population Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation until 2002. Speidel is on the faculty of the Center for Reproductive Health Research, and Policy at the University of California San Francisco,. http://reprohealth.ucsf.edu/fs/bios/speidel-jjoseph.html
  • PRH Public Health Administrators and other non- MDs

  • MECHAI VIRAVAIDYA(b. January 17, 1941) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Population and Development Association (PDA )in Bangkok, Thailand. Known affectionately as the ACondom King,@ Senator Mechai is widely credited for the sharp decrease in fertility in Thailand as well as the dramatic rise in safe sex, which has thwarted an AIDS/HIV epidemic. See his biography by Thomas D=Agnes, From Condoms to Cabbages ISBN 9742280096.
  • GRACE EBUN DELANO (b. November 13, 1935) is a nurse-midwife who has been involved in Nigerian reproductive health programs for many years. Mrs. Delano is Executive Director of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health in Ibadan. A CEDPA graduate and protégé of Peggy Curlin, Delano is the 1993 recipient of World Health Organization's Sasakawa Prize.
  • DUFF GILLESPIE, PhD (b. October 20, 1942) directed USAID’s Office of Population from 1986 to 1993, served as the administrator in the Global Health Bureau until 2002. He is a senior scholar and professor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • ADRIENNE GERMAINE, MA (b. May 13, 1947) is President of the International Women's Health Coalition, an organization devoted to promoting women's health and rights in developing countries. She was a U.S. government delegate to the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development and , the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. Earlier work at Ford Foundation and Population Council.
  • PETER J. DONALDSON, PhD (b. ) is President, Population Council. Previously headed the Population Reference Bureau. Director of the Committee on Population of the National Research Council (1985-89). Earlier work with Family Health International and the Population Council in Korea and Thailand. Author of Nature Against Us (UNC, 1990).
  • SHARON CAMP, PhD (b. November 7, 1943) is President and CEO of the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Previously, she headed the Women=s Capital Corporation, which commercialized Plan B emergency contraception in the United States, and the International Consortium on Emergency Contraception. From 1975 to 1993, she was Senior Vice President of Population Action International.
  • RICHARD FRANK, JD (b. has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Population Services International (PSI) since 1988. PSI is a large non-profit organization that works in 60 countries in the areas of safe water/oral rehydration, malaria, nutrition/micronutrients, family planning and HIV/AIDS. Prior to PSI, Mr. Frank worked in private practice and government. 
  • STEVE SINDING, PhD (b. June 29, 1943) retired as Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 2006. Trained as a political scientist, he served as Director of USAID=s Office of Population (1983-86), World Bank Population consultant, Population Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, and Professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
  • SANDRA KABIR (b. November 1949) is Executive Director of BRAC UK, . Founder and former director of Bangladesh Women=s Health Organization. Active in the women=s coalition at the 1994 Cairo meeting. Worked for International Council on the Management of Population Programmes. Holds duel citizenship in Bangladesh and United Kingdom. Lives in London, representing Labour Party in Borough of Brent.
  • ELIZABETH MARGUIRE (b. was the first woman director of USAID's Office of Population (1993-2001). Left USAID in 2001 and became the President and CEO of IPAS in North Carolina, an organization that supports safe abortion throughout the world and distributes manual vaccum aspiration equipment.
  • MERCEDES CONCEPCION, PhD. (b. June 10, 1928) Influential demographer, known as the “mother of Asian demography. “ Important in the development of family planning in Asia and other parts of the world. Board of Commissioners, Philippine Population Commission. Professor Emeritus, University of the Philippines. Consultant to WHO, UNFPA, UN Statistical Division. Extensive publications.
  • J TIMOTHY JOHNSON, DrPH (b. 1939) is with the Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. For the past 3 decades, he has worked in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa as well as in the United States. His expertise lies in family planning evaluation and contraceptive logistics.
  • DANIEL PELLEGROM, M Div (b. ) has been President of Pathfinder International (PI) since 1985. PI, founded by Dr. Clarence Gamble, provides reproductive health services in 23 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and receives funds from USAID and other donors. Considerable experience with reproductive health in the U.S., having directed Planned Parenthood affiliates in Maryland and Tennessee.
  • LEO MORRIS, PhD, MPH (b. 1935) served as Chief of the Program Evaluation Branch (1978-90) and Chief of the Behavioral Epidemiology and Demographic Research Branch (1990-2001) at the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has conducted fertility surveys throughout the world and has published extensively.
  • ROBERT GILLESPIE, MPH (b. August 23, 1938) is President of Population Communication in Pasadena, California; author of “Statement on Population Stabilization,” which has been signed by 75 world leaders. In the 1960s and 1970s, he did groundbreaking work in Taiwan,Iraq, and Bangladesh. Worked for Pathfinder Fund, Population Crisis Committee, and Population Council. Film maker,, e.g., “No Vacancy” (2004).
  • JOAN DUNLOP (b. May 20, 1934 ) is Past President of the International Women’s Health Coalition, which played a central role in making women=s sexual and reproductive health rights a central tenet of the 1994 UN Conference on Population and Development and the Women=s Conference in Beijing in 1995. Previous work at Rockefeller Foundation with John D. Rockefeller.
  • CORY L. RICHARDS (b. 1948) is Senior Vice President and Vice President for Public Policy at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which he joined in 1975. Involved in reproductive health policy research, advocacy, and coalition-building for more than 3 decades. Earlier work as press assistant and legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • JANET BENSHOOF, JD (b. 1947), Lecturer, Harvard Law School. Founder and President Emerita of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Formerly head of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. Sued federal government over implementation of the Mexico City policy (also known as the Global Gag Rule). http://cla.umn.edu/news/claToday/fallwinter2003-04/benshoof.php
  • FRANCIS KISSLING (b. 1943) is President of Catholics for Free Choice., an organization begun in 1973 to serve as a voice for Catholics throughout the world, who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health. Ms. Kissling has been called the philosopher of the pro-choice movement. Her papers are going to the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/
  • PHYLLIS T. PIOTROW, PhD ( b . March 16, 1933) has worked in the reproductive health field since the 1960s. She was the founder and first director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs. She served as legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator and was the executive director of the Population Crisis Committee, now Population Action International. Her papers were donated to Johns Hopkins University.
  • EVERETT M. ROGERS, PhD (1931-2004), formalized the diffusion of innovations theory (1962), explaining how new ideas are incorporated into a culture. He applied these ideas to family planning and population communication in the late 1960s, explaining how taboo communication differs from other subjects. Discusses his international experiences in Pakistan and India in particular. Recollections of General Bill Draper.
  • PATRICK J. SHEERAN, DPA ( b. Ma y 21, 1932) was the Director of the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs at U.S. DHHS Office of Population (OPA) until 2006. A former Catholic priest, Sheeran worked at OPA from 1977 to 2006. Prior to joining OPA, he was Director of Planned Parenthood in San Mateo, California. His scholarly work examined the abortion beliefs of pro-choice and pro-life leaders.
  • ROBIN CHANDLER DUKE (born 1923) is a long-standing advocate for population and reproductive health. She worked closely with General Bill Draper and the Population Crisis Committee; served as President of the National Abortion Rights Action League; was appointed Ambassador to Norway by President Clinton; and is on the Council of Foreign Relations. Her papers are going to Duke University where those of her late husband, Angiers Biddle Duke, are archived.
  • PEGGY CURLIN (b. 1940- d. 2005) was President of the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), a non-governmental agency that continues to provide leadership and management training to women involved in reproductive health throughout the world. Prior to joining CEDPA, Ms. Curlin co-founded Concerned Women in 1974, a women's health and family planning organization in Bangladesh that began by distributing contraceptives to poor women in Dhaka.
  • MARGARET NEUSE, MPH (b. January 1, 1947) has been Director of USAID=s Office of Population since 2001. Responsible for implementing policy during the George W. Bush Administration. Distingiished career as a foreign service officer working in reproductive health in Africa and Asia, international health consultant, and a Peace Corp volunteer in Central America.
  • MOHAMMAD ALAUDDIN, PhD (b. July 27, 1940) was Country Representative of Pathfinder International for Bangladesh. Trained in social work and public health, Dr. Alauddin is credited with promoting a model program using operations research, demographic data and social change techniques. His work has been instrumental in the significant decrease in Bangladeshi fertility as well as improvements in maternal and child health.
  • JOY G. DRYFOOS, MA (b. Nov 12, 1925) was Research Director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), later for Alan Guttmacher Institute when AGI became an independent research institute. Using census data, Dryfoos developed a formula that is still used today to estimate the number of women at risk of unwanted pregnancy. Later work with the Carnegie Corporation on children and youth. Her papers are at the Sophia Smith Collection.
  • JEANNIE I. ROSOFF, JD (b. 1924) was President of the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) (circa 1976-1998). An attorney, she emigrated to the U S from France and worked in NYC as a labor organizer. She was hired by Dr. Alan Guttmacher to set up AGI’s Washington DC office in the late 1960s. Her office published the influential Washington Memo for 30 years.
  • SARA SEIMS, PhD (b. March 30, 1948)) has been Director of the Population Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 2003. She was President of the Alan Guttmacher Institute (1999-2003). Earlier work as Associate Director of Population Sciences at the Rockefeller Foundation, Management Sciences for Health, USAID Office of Population in Washington DC and Dakar, Senegal.
  • HENRY DAVID, PhD (b. May 28,1923) is Founder and Director (since 1972) of the Transnational Family Research Institute. A clinical psychologist,, David has collaborated in path-breaking studies including a case control study over a 30 year period of Czech children born to women twice denied abortions and a Danish study of the psychological effects on women experiencing abortion. Founder of PAA Psycho-Social Workshop.
  • STIRLING SCRUGGS (b. September 3,1943) retired from UNFPA in 2004 after 23 years of service including Director of Information and External Relations and Country Director to China, Mongolia, and North Korea (1990-93) and Country Director to Philippines and South Korea (1981-86). Earlier work as Director of Planned Parenthood of Memphis and Peace Corp volunteer in Philippines.
  • Voices of Feminism OH Project

  • KATSI COOK– Mohawk midwife and environmental health activist. Founded the Mother’s Milk Project to call attention to mercury pollution of upstate New York lakes.
  • FRANCES HENRY - Helped convince the Centers for Disease Control to define child sexual abuse as a public health issue. Now works with the World Health Organization’s initiative against violence.
  • BYLLYE AVERY– founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project
  • LUZ ALVAREZ MARTINEZ- founder of the National Latina Health Organization
  • LORETTA ROSS– Worked for early D.C. rape crisis center and for the NBWHP. Now director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective
  • WYNONA WARD– activist against incest and other domestic violence in rural Vermont
  • CHARON ASETOYER- founder Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center in South Dakota.
  • PEGGY SAIKA – founder of Asian Pacific Islanders for Choice
  • NKENGE TOURE – director of the first D.C. Rape Crisis Center and AIDS activist
  • Miscellaneous oral histories of women in medicine in the Sophia Smith Collection

  • CHERI APPEL- Physician; Birth control advocate. Interview conducted by Ellen Chesler in 1989. Includes tape and transcript
  • LOUISE de SCHWEINITZ DARROW- Physician and early worker for birth control (audiotape and transcript). Dorothea and Louise de Schweinitz Papers (unprocessed).
  • KATHRYN MARSHALL- 1.25 linear ft., 1966-1975 - 20 tapes and 19 transcripts of oral histories conducted with women who served in Vietnam for Marshall's book In the Combat Zone (Boston: Little Brown, 1987).
  • EDRIS RICE-WRAY- Public health physician and birth control pioneer, primarily in Central America and Mexico. Two interviews conducted by Ellen Chesler (1978), audiotape; and by Ellen Chesler and James Reed (1987), audiotape and transcript (69p). They document her long career as a public health physician, primarily in Central America and Mexico. Rice-Wray founded Mexico's first family planning clinic, in Mexico City.
  • MARGARET SANGER- Birth control advocate; Nurse. Transcripts of interviews with Sanger family members about Margaret Sanger: Olive Byrne Richard by Jacqueline Van Voris (1977); Nancy Sanger Ivins and Margaret Sanger Marston by Jacqueline Van Voris (1977); Grant Sanger by Ellen Chesler (1976); Grant Sanger by Jacqueline Van Voris (1977).
  • CAROLINE BEDELL THOMAS; Physician Cardiology researcher; Professor. (Smith class 1925), M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School, 1930. Her medical career was devoted to cardiovascular research. She joined the teaching staff of John Hopkins School of Medicine in 1935 and was on the clinic staff; also served as physician at Bryn Mawr School for Girls in Baltimore (1935-38); was a civilian consultant to the Army Surgeon General during World War II; and maintained a private practice (1938-70). Dr. Thomas was best known for her research in heart disease.
  • HYLA STOWELL WATTERS (1893-1987) Medical missionary; Physician. Oral history transcript consists of excerpts from an interview by Elsie Landstrom in 1986. Hyla Watters Papers.
  • Schlesinger-Rockefeller Oral History Project

  • MARY STEICHEN CALDERONE, M.D.
  • LORAINE LEESON CAMPBELL
  • FLORENCE CLOTHIER, M.D.
  • FRANCES HAND FERGUSON
  • ADALINE PENDLETON SATTERTHWAITE, M.D.