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SERIES Identifier: MC 502


Scope and Contents

Series VI, THE BIRTH PROJECT, 1978-1993 (#57.1-71.14, card file box #86, 94f.2v), began in 1980 when Chicago sent out questionnaires asking women about their experiences with the birth process and created needlework canvases based upon the responses. She advertised for needleworkers who were willing and able to complete the work on the canvases in their homes with guidance provided by Chicago through correspondence, phone calls, and occasional review sessions. Applicants were required to fill out applications stating their experience and interests, as well as a brief biography. They also had to send samples or photographs of their work. Once accepted to work on the project, needleworkers were required to sign over the rights to the piece, photographs of the piece, photographs of themselves working on the piece, and all written documentation concerning it (i.e., correspondence, journals, interviews, etc.) to Through the Flower. Much of the information provided in the written documentation was excerpted and used in the documentation panels in exhibitions and in the book, The Birth Project.

Exhibitions of the The Birth Project were carefully monitored by Through the Flower. Groups wishing to stage exhibitions were required to submit site plans, photographs, and requests for specific pieces of art. Through the Flower, with Chicago's guidance, would approve or disapprove planned exhibition, often after requesting extensive alterations of the space. Once approved, exhibitors were required to submit samples of all printed material associated with The Birth Project. A Through the Flower representative would occasionally assess the security and maintenance of an exhibit throughout its run. After years of rotating exhibits of the work, Chicago and Through the Flower worked with a variety of institutions to place all pieces on permanent loan.

The Birth Project contains correspondence, questionnaires, applications, contracts, interviews, journals, manuscript drafts, clippings, printed material, etc., arranged in five subseries.


  • 1947-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1957-2004

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted except that for access to folders #81.21-81.24, researchers must obtain written permission from Diane Gelon and Susan Hill. Folder #83.12 is closed until January 1, 2025.


111.18 linear feet ((54 cartons, 1+1/2 file boxes, 29 card file boxes, 9 folio boxes, 6 folio+ boxes, 2 oversize boxes) plus 1 roll box, 1 supersize folder, 97 photograph folders, 3 folio photograph folders, and electronic records)

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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