Our Bodies, Ourselves: The Nine U.S. Editions

In 1969, a group of women met in a workshop on women’s bodies at a women’s liberation conference in Boston. Realizing how little they knew about their own bodies, they decided to research and find out more. In 1970 they put together a course booklet to share their findings, and “Our Bodies, Ourselves” was born.

Since then, the book has sold more than 4 million copies and has been translated or adapted into 34 languages. In the United States, it has been been updated and revised nine times (most recently in 2011) to include new information and perspectives. You can learn more — and read each edition’s introduction, list of contributors, table of contents, and, in some cases, excerpts — below.

To see a high resolution image of each cover, click on the image.

The First Edition

cover of "Women and Their Bodies," the first edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"

Women and Their Bodies (1970)
This first printing, put together by the founders and published by New England Free Press, was a 193-page  stapled, newsprint booklet.  5000 printed copies were distributed by hand at workshops and among friends. The booklet puts women’s health in a radically new political and social context and becomes an underground success.

Cover of the 1971 edition of "Our Bodies, Our Selves"

Our Bodies, Our Selves (1971)
To emphasize women taking full ownership of their bodies, the founders change the book’s title to “Our Bodies, Our Selves.” While the book has a new cover, it has the same text as the 1970 print. The book quickly sells 250,000 copies.

Because the texts are the same, both the 1970 and 1971 prints are considered the first edition.

Find out more:

the Second Edition

cover of the 1973 edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"

Our Bodies Ourselves: A Book by and for Women (1973)

The group of founders formally incorporates as the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective 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.

Find out more:

the Third Edition







Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women, Revised and Expanded
A major revision, with more than 50 percent new material. The book becomes a bestseller and is recognized by the American Library Association’s Young Adult Service Division as one of the best books of the decade.

Find out more:

The Fourth Edition

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women, Revised and Expanded (1979)

This edition is very similar to the 1976 edition, with the same cover, preface, table of contents and page count. However, the 1979 update team made small changes to reflect new health information.

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The fifth Edition

Cover of the 1984 edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"

The New Our Bodies, Ourselves (1984)

Completely rewritten, the 1984 edition expands to 647 pages (from 383) and includes new chapters on body image, psychotherapy, women growing older, new reproductive technologies, and environmental and occupational health.

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The Sixth Edition

The New Our Bodies, Ourselves, Updated and Expanded for the ’90s (1992)

The 1992 update covers new topics, including the female condom, Norplant, HIV and AIDS, the abortion  pill, interstitial cystitis, breast reconstruction after mastectomy, chronic fatigue syndrome and environmental illness.

Cover of the 1992 edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"

The New Our Bodies, Ourselves, 25th Anniversary Edition (1996)

In 1996, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the first publication, Simon & Schuster re-issued the 1992 edition with a new cover and a new preface by Byllye Avery, Helen Rodriguez-Trias, and Gloria Steinem.

Find out more:

The Seventh Edition

Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century (1998)

The 1998 edition, the first published in the internet age, includes a guide on how to evaluate online health info and how to use the internet to connect with others who share your health concerns. It also includes a new chapter on infertility and pregnancy loss and information on new reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy.

The Eighth Edition

cover of the 2005 edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"

Our Bodies Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era (2005)

This major revision, the first print published as a regular sized book rather than an oversized one, includes new information on complementary health practices, aging, medical testing and procedures, and navigating the health care system.

The Ninth Edition

cover of the 2011 edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves"

Our Bodies, Ourselves (2011)

The most recent edition, focused on women’s reproductive health and sexuality, features new material about gender identity, sexual orientation, birth control, abortion, and sexuality and sexual health across the lifespan. The stories of the OBOS Global Network partners are highlighted throughout the book.

Find out more about the 2011 edition.