Women's Health Concerns Committee records
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Women's Heath Concerns Committee was created in the fall of 1974 by the Southeastern Region of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in response to a concern that arose at the region's 1974 Conference on Women and Health that there should be more communication between the government and women's organizations. The Committee was created by Walter J, Lear, M.D., commissioner of Health Services, and placed under the direction of JoAnne Fisher Wolf, the region's consultant on women and health. The Committee described itself as "a coalition of over 400 health organizations, women's groups and individuals concerned about women's health," and the membership of the Committee included a high proportion of women who were active in multiple women's health advocacy groups.
Throughout its existence, the Committee maintained a number of subcommittees that worked on specific areas, and held their own meetings and issued their own reports. These included, at various times, the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Subcommittee, the Family Planning Subcommittee, the Health Systems Agencies Subcommittee, the Maternity Care Subcommittee, the Mental Health Subcommittee, the Occupational Health and Safety Subcommittee, and the Teenage Parents Subcommittee. The Committee also published a newsletter, Healthwatch.
Over time, the Committee gradually became independent of the state government. The first major step taken in this direction was the incorporation of the committee as New World Consulting, Inc., in 1976. Incorporation allowed the Committee to pursue additional sources of funding, provide paid staff for many of the Committee's functions, and begin to operate as an independent corporation. New World Consulting organized several conferences, applied for and also distributed grants, and won contracts from the state and federal governments to conduct studies.
In 1978 the Committee's remaining state funding was cut, and the organization became a fully independent advocacy group, achieving tax-exempt status in 1979. Ellie DiLapi became the director of the Committee, and under an independent board of directors it continued its fund-raising and event planning. Over time the Committee began to have more trouble securing sources of funding, and the Board terminated its operations in June of 1984.
The collection on the Women's Health Concerns Committee came to the University of Pennsylvania from Dr. Walter J. Lear's Institute of Social Medicine and Community Health. The collection is made up of 41 boxes of material, including administrative records, publications, staff information, project information, reference materials, photographs, slides, and memorabilia. The majority of the collection is made up of letters, meeting minutes, publications, and newsletters of the Women's Health Concerns Committee and related groups, but there are also handwritten notes and letters as well as audio and visual media. Many of the letters and articles in the collection are to, from, or about JoAnne Fisher Wolf, who headed the organization from 1974 to 1979.
The Administrative Files series covers the organizational structure and history of the Committee, with records of the Committee's meetings, the meetings of the board of directors after the group became independent, financial records of the Committee, staff and membership information, and reports issued by the Committee. These records show the structure and day to day operation of a small but successful activist organization. A separate Correspondence series follows the Administrative Files series, and publications of the Committee and other groups appear near the end of the collection.
The Program Files section is divided into four series: Program Issues, Events, Work with Other Organizations, and Testimony at Hearings. These series provide a picture of the impact of the Committee's work. The Committee worked on many issues of local, state, and national importance, ranging from working to improve local access to health care to protesting changes in national law and advising government programs. The collection includes substantial records on several of the more notable efforts of the Committee, including the effort to diversify the board of directors of Blue Cross of Greater Philadelphia, a study of local Health Systems Agencies, and a study on the National Health Resources and Development Act. The Committee also sent members to testify at hearings and attend conferences. The best documented of these events are those that the Committee itself organized, specifically the 1974 'Conference on Women and Health,' the 1978 conference 'A Woman's Work is Never Done,' and the 1978 conference 'Finding Our Strength as Women.'
The remainder of the collection includes a short audio-visual series, a short memorabilia series, and the reference series. This is a substantial collection of materials about other groups and issues collected by the Committee for its own use. The newsletters, reports, organizations, bibliographies, conferences, and subject files that make up the series provide information on many issues that the Committee viewed as important for women's health.
Acquired by Walter J. Lear from JoAnne Fischer Wolf, 1993.
Gift of Walter J. Lear, 2005.
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" Project. The finding aid was entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Christopher Segal
- Finding Aid Date
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The bulk of this collection is open for research use; however, access to original audio/visual materials and computer files is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (email@example.com) for cost estimates and ordering. Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
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