The First Decade: 1969-1979
1969 Twelve women meet during a women’s liberation conference in Boston. At a workshop on “women and their bodies,” they talk about their own experiences with doctors and share their self-knowledge. They later decide to research and share information about women’s bodies and health.
1970 A 193-page course booklet on stapled newsprint entitled “Women and Their Bodies” is printed.
1971 The authors change the name of the book to “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” to emphasize women taking full ownership of their bodies. Republished by New England Free Press, the book puts women’s health in a radically new political and social context and quickly becomes an underground success. It sells 250,000 copies, mainly by word-of-mouth.
1972 The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective formally incorporates in order to negotiate a contract for publication with Simon & Schuster. The contract includes a 70 percent discount for health clinics, a clause that is included in every subsequent contract, as well as funding for a Spanish language translation of the book.
1973 Simon & Schuster publishes the first commercial edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
1975 A Danish edition is published.
1976 A revised and updated version of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is published. A national bestseller, it is recognized by the American Library Association’s Young Adult Service Division as one of the best books of the decade.
A French edition is published.
1977 The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, in collaboration with Leonor Taboada and Raquel Scherr Salgado, self-publishes “Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas,” a Spanish translation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” About 50,000 copies were distributed throughout the United States and Latin America.
1978 An English (British) edition is published.
1979 An update of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is published and becomes a bestseller.
The Second and Third Decades: 1979-1999
The success of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” necessitates a more formal organizational structure for the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. The group transitions away from a collective to a nonprofit organization.
1980 German and Swedish editions published.
1981 OBOS begins collaborating with Amigas Latinas en Accion pro-Salud to develop health materials by and for Latinas. The program is later renamed the Latina Health Initiative.
Greek and Netherlands editions published.
1982 An Israeli edition is published.
1984 A revised version of the original, “The New Our Bodies, Ourselves,” is published.
1988 A Japanese adaption of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is published.
1991 “A Hundred Thousand Questions about Women’s Health” a book in Telugu inspired by “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” is published.
1992 “The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: Updated and Expanded for the 90s” is published.
1995 A Russian edition is published.
1996 South African (English) and Thai editions are published.
1998 “Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century” is published.
A Chinese adaptation is published.
The first OBOS website launches.
1999 The first installment of BWHBC/Our Bodies Ourselves records are given to the Schlesinger Library for their collection on women’s health.
The Fourth and Fifth Decades: 2000 – Present
Women’s groups from around the world continue to adapt “Our Bodies, Ourselves” into print and digital formats. OBOS launches two single-topic books.
2000 A revised and culturally adapted edition of “Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas,” created by Latinas in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and representing 19 different organizations, is published.
2001 Judy Norsigian, a founder of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, becomes executive director.
Three cultural adaptations of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” are published by OBOS’s Global Network members:
The Armenian Charitable Foundation on Population Development in Yerevan publishes an Armenian adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
The Women’s Health Initiative in Bulgaria publishes a Bulgarian adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
The Autonomous Women’s Center Against Sexual Violence in Belgrade publishes a Serbian adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
2002 Because most people associate the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective with the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” the organization begins to do business under the name Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS). The legally incorporated name remains the same.
In Moldova, the National Women’s Studies and Informational Center publishes a Romanian adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
2004 Network of East-West Women in Gdańsk publishes a Polish adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”
Groupe de Recherche sur les Femmes et les Lois au Senegal publishes an adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in French for sub-Saharan Africa.
Anveshi in India reprints its Telegu edition in English to reach a wider audience in the country.
2005 “Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era” is published.
Alternative Culture Publishing in South Korea releases a Korean adaptation.
The Tibetan Nuns Project in India publishes an adaptation titled “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind,” with a foreword by the Dalai Lama.
2006 OBOS produces its first single-topic book, “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause.”
Our Bodies, Our Blog, a daily blog on women’s health news and public policy, launches.
A reprint of the 2004 French inspired-edition (for French-speaking Africa) is released in Senegal.
In Albania, the Gender Alliance for Development Center publishes an Albanian adaptation.
The OBOS Latina Health Initiative, along with Childbirth Connection, produces “De Camino a la Maternidad,” the Spanish language version of “Journey to Parenthood: Your Guide Through Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond.”
2007 The Tibetan Nuns Project in India publishes an English translation of the Tibetan adaptation.
Women’s Health in St. Petersburg publishes an online Russian adaptation.
2008 OBOS produces its second single-topic book, “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth.”
In Nepal, the Women’s Rehabilitation Center publishes booklets based on “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in Nepali to use in nationwide self-care workshops.
In India, Women Unlimited publishes an adapted English text of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” for distribution throughout South Asia.
2009 In India, Sanlaap collaborates with Manavi, a U.S.-based organization, to publish a Bengali booklet adapted from “Our Bodies, Ourselves” for India and Bangladesh.
2010 In Armenia, “For Family and Health” Pan-Armenian Association publishes “We and Our Body” to encourage Armenian women to engage in peer-advocacy for sustaining good health for themselves and their communities.
2011 The ninth edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is published. Library Journal names it one of the Best Books of the Year in the consumer health category.
OBOS hosts a global symposium in Boston, Our Bodies, Our Future: Advancing Health and Human Rights for Women and Girls, in celebration of its 40th anniversary and its Global Network partners.
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” is recognized by Time magazine as one of the best 100 nonfiction books (in English) since 1923, when the magazine started.
OBOS’s Global Network partners in Africa continue to turn content adapted from “Our Bodies, Ourselves” into Yoruba and Pidgin English and Kiswahili to use in innovative outreach efforts throughout Nigeria and Tanzania.
2012 “Our Bodies, Ourselves” is one of 88 books included in the 2012 Library of Congress exhibition “Books that Shaped America,” a list of important works “intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives.”
2013 The most recent edition of the Danish adaptation is published.
2015 In Vietnam, the Institute for Social Development Studies publishes a three-volume health series based on “Our Bodies, Ourselves” for healthcare providers across the country.
2016 More than 500,000 people each month visit the Our Bodies Ourselves website to find trustworthy and accurate information on women’s health and sexuality.
2018 After years of struggling, OBOS board, founders and staff come to the painful conclusion that the organization doesn’t have the resources and infrastructure to continue its main programs using paid staff. Instead OBOS will transition to a volunteer-led 501(c)3 that will advocate for women’s health and social justice and retain and provide limited technical support to OBOS’s global partners working on translation/adaptation projects.