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ExhibitionIdentity and Activism

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  • Two smiling White women hold a sign in a photograph on the cover of a book.
    Women and Their Bodies, 1970

    First edition of Women and Their Bodies course book, produced by the Boston Women’s Health Collective, 1970

    Courtesy The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

    The pamphlet that later became Our Bodies, Ourselves inspired women around the country to start self-help groups and feminist health clinics.

  • Multiracial group of protesters holding signs and looking towards viewer.
    Protest against forced sterilization, ca. 1971

    Women of color activists protest against forced sterilization, ca. 1971

    Courtesy Kevin Begos and Southern Conference Educational Fund

    Women of color activists combined feminist and antiracist analyses to develop a more inclusive definition of reproductive rights, arguing not only for rights to abortion and birth control, but also for the right to be free from forced sterilization.

  • 5 seated White women talk with each other.
    Chico Feminist Women’s Health Center founders, 1975

    Betty Szudy, Dido Hasper, Wendi Jones, Judy Rutherford and Janice Turrini (left to right) were among several women who helped launch the Chico Feminist Women’s Health Center in California, 1975

    Courtesy Feminist Women’s Health Center

    Women’s rights activists organized health clinics to provide women-centered health education, reproductive services, natural childbirth, and all types of medical care. The Chico Feminist Women’s Health Center in California began by offering educational materials and instruction in self-examination for women, and later became a full-service medical clinic.

  • Yellow flyer with text.
    Durham Women’s Health Cooperative, ca. 1970s

    Hours of operation sign for the Durham Women’s Health Cooperative at Duke University, ca. 1970s

    Courtesy of Margery Sved Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

    Many women’s clinics, such as the Durham Women’s Health Cooperative in North Carolina, initially had no medical staff. They were started by activists who offered information on birth control and abortion, and referrals to sympathetic local physicians.