History of Our Bodies Ourselves and the Boston Women's Health Book Collective
In 1969, as the women's movement was gaining momentum and influence in the Boston area and elsewhere around the country, twelve women met during a women’s liberation conference. In a workshop on "women and their bodies," they talked about their own experiences with doctors and shared their knowledge about their bodies. Eventually they decided to form the Doctor’s Group, the forerunner to the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, to research and discuss what they were learning about themselves, their bodies, health, and women.
The fruit of their discussions and research was a course booklet entitled Women and Their Bodies, a stapled newsprint edition published in 1970. The booklet, which put women’s health in a radically new political and social context, become an underground success. In 1973 Simon & Schuster published an expanded edition, renamed Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Below are links to materials we've gathered on the history of Our Bodies, Ourselves, the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, and the women's health movement:
- The Timeline of OBOS presents a brief history of the organization and the book from 1969 to the present.
- The Boston Women Health Book Collective and Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Brief History and Reflection is an indepth article from the Journal of the American Medical Women's Association.
- Transforming Doctor-Patient Relationships is an article from the Journal of Health Services Research and Policy on how Our Bodies, Ourselves has transformed women's relationships with their healthcare providers.
- The Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe has an extensive collection of records from the BWHBC, including minutes from meetings, letters from readers, discussions about health and politics and drafts of manuscripts. Some of the records, which span from 1969 - 2003, are available online.
- A list of awards received by our books, founders and organization.
- For history buffs and diehard fans, we've posted a .pdf of the entire 193-page 1970 edition, Women and Their Bodies. (Be forewarned: This is a large file (17.1 MB) and will download slowly.)
To find out more about the beginnings of the women's health movement, check out the proceedings from the 1975 Conference on Women and Health, a landmark conference that brought together feminist activist, students and health care providers.
"Our Bodies, Ourselves" and the Work of Writing is a 2010 book by Susan Wells that examines the first two decades of the book and the group that produced it.
- The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves: How Feminism Travels Across Borders, a 2007 book by Kathy Davis, tells the stories behind the many foreign language adaptations of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
- Feminist Body/Politics as World Traveller: Translating Our Bodies, Ourselves is a long article from the European Journal of Women's Studies exploring the politics of the OBOS global translations and adaptations program.
- Translating Our Bodies, Ourselves, an in-depth article from from the 6.13.08 edition of The Nation, looks at the role of Our Bodies, Ourselves in the global women's health movement.
- “Please Include This in Your Book”: Readers Respond to Our Bodies, Ourselves
- How a Group of Friends Transformed Women's Health is a commentary by OBOS founder Jane Pincus.
- Women’s History: The New York Times Reviews “Our Bodies, Ourselves”
- Introduction to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves
- Introduction to the 2005 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves
- Preface to the 1998 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves
Preface to the 1973 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves
- Our past newsletters
- Historian Wendy Kline is conducting an ongoing online survey to document the impact of Our Bodies, Ourselves on women’s lives. You can take the survey yourself or read others' responses.
- Press materials for our books and the organization