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Voices of Feminism Oral History Project


The Voices of Feminism Oral History Project documents the persistence and diversity of organizing for women in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Narrators include labor, peace, and anti-racism activists; artists and writers; lesbian rights advocates; grassroots anti-violence and anti-poverty organizers; and women of color reproductive justice leaders. Interviews average 5-6 hours and cover childhood, personal life, and political work.

The Narrators page includes biographical sketches and abstracts of interviews for each narrator, plus links to the full transcripts for most of the narrators. It also indicates if the narrator is placing (or has placed) her papers in the Sophia Smith Collection. For the following narrators, there is also a video excerpt of the interview: Beal, Cook, Ross, Saika, Rodriguez, and Vazquez.

The Records of the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project include recorded interviews (on DVD or VHS video tapes, plus audio CDs); transcripts; correspondence between interviewer and narrator; a biographical survey; and the interviewer's guide. Some narrators' files include background materials and photographs. For a complete description of the collection, view the online finding aid.

See also the online exhibit featuring selections from the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project and the papers of Joan E. Biren (JEB), Loretta Ross, and Carmen Vázquez.

Access Information

The oral histories are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection, with the following exceptions:

  • Small portions of the following interviews are closed and have been removed from the transcripts: Kathleen Casavant, Katsi Cook, Loretta Ross, Graciela Sanchez, and Miriam Schneir.
  • The transcript of Kathleen Casavant is not available online. Researchers may contact Special Collections for a copy.
  • Researchers must have permission from the narrator to access these interviews: Brenda Berkman, Lora Jo Foo, Jan Peterson, Maura Russell.

Streaming video for many of the interviews is available for on-campus viewing only. In-house use copies are available for most interviews. Researchers may also purchase copies of audio or video recordings. See Rights & Reproductions for more information. Original audiovisual recordings are closed for preservation purposes.

Copyright and permissions

All oral history interviews on this site are copyrighted. The transcripts and photographs are provided for educational and research purposes only. Rights have been licensed to the Sophia Smith Collection for presentation on this Web site. No other rights are extended for copying and/or publishing.

Requests for permission to publish quotations should be addressed to the Sophia Smith Collection and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to all of the oral histories except where noted (in transcript and finding aid). Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Requests for permission to publish quotations should be addressed to the Sophia Smith Collection and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Please cite the oral histories as follows: "{name of narrator} interview, Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063"

Project History

The Voices of Feminism Archival Development Project, funded by the Ford Foundation from 2002 to 2008, aims to bring race, class, and sexual diversity to the holdings of the Sophia Smith Collection. The project consists of several parts: a) searching for personal papers and organizational records of women of color, grassroots organizers, and others marginalized in traditional historical accounts, b) conducting oral histories, c) collaborating with Gloria Steinem as she works in her own papers and identifies potential donors, and d) developing plans for a video documentary series based on these new materials. Project staff have included Joyce Follet, director and oral historian; Kelly Anderson, oral historian; Sheila Flaherty-Jones, editor; Kathleen Banks Nutter, oral historian; Loretta Ross, consultant and oral historian; Revan Schendler, consultant and editor; Kate Weigand, oral historian. Interviews were also conducted by Martha Ackelsberg, Nancy MacLean, and Evelyn C. White.