[OASIS] Harvard University Library
OASIS: Online Archival Search Information System
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:RAD.SCHL:sch00915View HOLLIS Record   Frames Version
Questions or Comments   Copyright Statement
77-M164--77-M183

Smith, Ruth Proskauer, 1907-2010. Papers of Ruth Proskauer Smith, 1959-1975: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

[link]


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: 77-M164--77-M183
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Smith, Ruth Proskauer, 1907-2010
Title: Papers of Ruth Proskauer Smith, 1959-1975
Date(s): 1959-1975
Quantity: 2.63 linear feet (2 cartons, 1+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder)
Abstract: Correspondence; minutes, bylaws, etc., of Ruth Proskauer Smith, advocate of family planning and legal abortion.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 77-M164, 77-M183
The papers of Ruth Proskauer Smith were given to the Schlesinger Library by Ruth Proskauer Smith in October and November 1977.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: February 1986
By: Anne Engelhart

Access Restrictions:

Access. Two folders of correspondence and minutes from NARAL (#7 and 8) are restricted in accordance with the agreement between the Schlesinger Library and NARAL; #21, 22, 42, 49, and 50, which contain lists of contributors, are closed until January 1, 2028.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ruth Proskauer Smith is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Ruth Proskauer Smith Papers, 1959-1975; item description, dates. 77-M164--77-M183, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

BIOGRAPHY

The daughter of Joseph M. and Alice (Naumburg) Proskauer, Ruth (Proskauer) Smith was born in Deal, New Jersey, on August 14, 1907. She attended the Ethical Culture School in New York City, and Radcliffe College, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1929 and her master's degree in fine arts in 1932. Ruth Proskauer Smith married Theodore Smith on June 11, 1932; the couple had two children and were divorced in 1946.
Ruth Proskauer Smith began her involvement in the family planning and abortion rights movement as a field worker for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (1946-1948). She served there as executive secretary (1949-1953) until she moved to New York and became administrator of the family planning service at Mount Sinai Hospital (1953-1955). She served as executive director of the Human Betterment Association for Voluntary Sterilization (1955-1964) and of the Association for the Study of Abortion (1964-1966). In 1967 she helped organize the National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (now the National Abortion Rights Action League or NARAL) and worked for the liberalization of abortion laws in New York State, first with New Yorkers for Abortion Law Repeal and then with the Committee for the Cook-Leichter Bill, a bill that declared abortion a matter to be decided by a woman and her physician and that was enacted in 1970. Later in 1970 the Abortion Rights Association of New York (ARANY) was established to help implement the law by disseminating information about its requirements and the rights and obligations of women and of physicians; Ruth Proskauer Smith served as president and vice-president. Following the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, the organization was renamed the Abortion Rights Association.
Ruth Proskauer Smith was also a board member and officer of the Euthanasia Society of America and the Society for the Right to Die. The author of a number of articles on abortion and family planning, she was frequently a representative at conferences in the United States and abroad.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

This collection includes personal and professional correspondence; minutes, bylaws, reports, mailings, and financial records of organizations with which Ruth Proskauer Smith was active; ARANY questionnaires from physicians, hospitals, and clinics reporting on their family planning and abortion services; printed material from pro-choice organizations; and articles, reports, and clippings on the movement to liberalize abortionlegislation, abortion services, and family planning.
The professional correspondence traces Ruth Proskauer Smith's involvement in a number of abortion rights organizations, from the Human Betterment Association for Voluntary Sterilization to the beginnings of what were to become the National Abortion Rights Action League and the Abortion Rights Association. Two folders of correspondence and minutes from NARAL (#7 and 8) are restricted in accordance with the agreement between the Schlesinger Library and NARAL; #21, 22, 42, 49, and 50, which contain lists of contributors, are closed until January 1, 2028. Most extensive is the documentation of the growth of ARANY, which in 1971 and 1972 conducted surveys of abortion services for its "Listing of Selected New York State Abortion Clinics."
Folder headings are the donor's. Information in brackets has been added by the processor.

CONTAINER LIST

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Abortion--Great Britain
Abortion--Law and legislation
Abortion--New York (State)
Abortion services
Birth control
Contraception
Great Britain--Social conditions
Jews--United States
Minutes
New York (State)--Social conditions
Questionnaires
Sterilization (Birth control)
Abortion Law Reform Association
Abortion Rights Association
Association for the Study of Abortion
Burns, James MacGregor
Committee for the Cook-Leichter Bill
Human Betterment Association for Voluntary Sterilization
Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Kopper), 1904-1986
Kennedy, Edward M. (Edward Moore), 1932-2009
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
McCarthy, Eugene J., 1916-2005
McGovern, George S. (George Stanley), 1922-2012
Means, Cyril C., Jr.
Moore, Emily
Muskie, Edmund S., 1914-1996
Myers, Lonny
Nathanson, Bernard N., 1926-2011
National Abortion Rights Action League
National Conference on Social Welfare
New Yorkers for Abortion Law Repeal
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Radcliffe College--Alumni and alumnae
State Communities Aid Association

sch00915