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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 831

Papers of Bill Baird, 1930-2015 (inclusive), 1963-1993 (bulk)


Date books, appointment calendars, biographical material, correspondence, clippings, clinic administrative records, patient records, etc., of Bill Baird, reproductive rights advocate.


  • Creation: 1930-2015
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1963-1993


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Folders #17.5-17.7, 18.5-18.6, 19.1-19.2, 20.6-20.7, 20.9, 21.1-21.7, 22.1-22.8, 26.1-26.6, 27.2-27.9, 27.11-27.13, 30.1, 38.12-39.1 contain personal medical information or social security numbers and are closed as noted.

Original letters in folders #52.4-55.1, 56.11, 131.3-131.4, 133.1-133.2, 134.2-134.3 from women seeking information about abortion or discussing abortions they had are closed as noted. Redacted copies are provided.

Folders #143.1-152.4, 204.4, 204.9, 205.2, 205.6, 206.7, 208.7, 208.9, 208.10, 208.12, 208.14, 208.16, 209.1-210.2, 211.11, 211.13, 229.10, 229.13, 231.2, 235.5, 235.6, 238.1-238.3, 245.1-245.3, 245.10, 266.8, 270.5, 280.1-306.8, 312.1-334.7, 335CB-336CB contain patient or employee information and are closed as noted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Bill Baird 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.


205.09 linear feet ((436 file boxes, 3 half file boxes, 4 card boxes, 9 folio boxes, 4 folio+ boxes, 4 oversize boxes) plus 3 supersize boxes, 2 roll boxes, 79 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 7 objects)

These papers document the life of reproductive rights activist Bill Baird and his work to legalize birth control and abortion for all women. They document his protests of pro-life advocates, his legal battles on behalf of individuals and for legalization of birth control and abortion, his work providing information and services to women who sought it through his Plan Van, Bill Baird Center, Bill Baird Institute, and Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League.

Additional material remains to be processed. Audiovisual material, and born-digital material are still undergoing processing and will be added to the collection at some future date.

SERIES I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1930-2014 (#1.1-46.6, 344FB.1-344FB.4, 307F+B.1-307F+B.9, 308OB.1-308OB.15), includes address books and contacts; appointment books and calendars; clippings and biographical material; personal correspondence; military records; material related to divorce/separation and private legal matters; early and college educational material; awards, degrees, and certificates of recognition; licenses and membership cards; to do lists; financial material; material related to several runs for political office; writings by Baird and with other authors including current wife Joni (Scott) Baird; etc.

Address books and contacts contain addresses and telephone numbers for personal contacts including doctors, lawyers, repairmen, family, friends, etc., as well as professional contacts including pro-choice and pro-life activists and activist organizations; media professionals; doctors and lawyers; pharmaceutical and medical supply companies and representatives; etc. These also include contact information for doctors performing abortions in Puerto Rico and Mexico. Appointment books and calendars contain personal engagements including doctor appointments, children's school appointments, birthdays, etc., although the vast majority of appointments recorded are for speaking engagements; radio and television interviews; public protests; etc. Several address and appointment books were labeled as having belonged to Sue Vogel, Arlene Trolman, or Joni (Scott) Baird, but include many contacts and appointments for Baird. For additional material related to speeches and engagements see Series II, subseries C.

Clippings and biographical material includes clippings re: Baird in his youth, mostly regarding sports teams in which Baird participated during high school; a birth certificate, confirmation booklet, and astrological chart; driver licenses and certifications for the National Guild of Hypnotists and the Universal Life Church; and membership cards for a number of organizations including the National Organization for Women, American Civil Liberties Union, American Association for Counseling and Development, American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, Phi Epsilon Kappa, etc.

Educational material consists of class notes and writing assignments (in English, biology, chemistry, anatomy, etc.), grades, and lists of courses taken at the elementary school level, Andrew Jackson High School, Brooklyn College, New York Medical College, and a several other colleges. Among Baird's diplomas, degrees, awards, etc., are his diploma from Andrew Jackson High School, degree from Brooklyn College, a number of certificates of appreciation and awards for his work in reproductive rights, as well as a number of city and state-wide proclamations establishing "right to privacy" days, months, etc., in recognition of his success in the Supreme Court case Baird v. Eisenstadt.

Legal material mainly relates to various civil cases having to do with damage to personal property, property disputes, contract disputes (dog breeder), etc. Much of the material regarding divorce/separation is related to his divorce from his first wife, Evelyn (Kunow) Baird, and the distribution of property upon their divorce. Baird had long been living separately from his first wife and had been in relationships with Sue Vogel (prior to his divorce) and Arlene Trolman (both prior to and following his divorce), whom he married following his divorce. Additional divorce/separation material is from the end of these two relationships and have mainly to do with the dissolution of their joint households.

Financial material includes cancelled checks, check registers, bank statements, income tax returns, etc., either held individually or with Evelyn Baird, Sue Vogel, or Arlene Trolman during their relationships. Although these are personal bank accounts, there is substantial overlap between Baird's personal accounts and those of the Parents Aid Society. Baird often seemed to loan personal funds to the Society when needed, but also paid household bills with Society funds when necessary (See Series II, Subseries B).

Personal correspondence consists mostly of greeting cards and holiday (Christmas, Father's Day, Easter, birthday, etc.) notes, drawings, and other messages from Baird's siblings, children, spouses, and significant others, as well as several friends. Among friends who wrote was Nancy Klein. Klein was a pregnant Long Island woman who was comatose and suffered brain damage as a result of a car accident in 1989 and whose husband successfully sought to abort the fetus to increase her chances at survival. Baird had supported husband Martin Klein in his efforts to obtain the abortion, and following Nancy Klein's recovery she maintained a friendship with Baird and later his third wife Joni (Scott) Baird. Additional correspondence with Klein regarding speaking engagements and pro-choice activism can be found in Series II, subseries B.

Military records document Baird's service in the United States Army (1953-1957), as well as his reclassification due to injuries sustained in a car accident, until the end of his enlistment.

Writing in this series includes articles and manuals regarding reproductive rights, abortion, and the maintenance of abortion clinics written by Baird and with other authors (including current wife Joni (Scott) Baird). Other writing includes outlines, proposals, drafts, etc., for autobiographies/biographies of Baird (and detailing his pro-choice activism) written by both Baird and with other authors over the years, as well as Joni (Scott) Baird's most recent biography entitled "The Pied Piper of Sex" and later renamed "The Last Crusader." All of these biographies remain unpublished.

Much of the medical, financial, divorce/separation files, and some personal correspondence is closed during Baird's lifetime.

Papers related to Lonny Myers includes her correspondence with children and several reproductive rights activists, appointment books, awards, etc., but the majority regards the care provided for her by Bill Baird and Joni (Scott) Baird toward the end of her life. Having been placed in an assisted living community near to her children, Myers voiced her unhappiness about living there and requested to live with Bill Baird who took her in and cared for her. When her dementia became too difficult to cope with at home, the Bairds found a local nursing home where they place Myers and visited her regularly and cared for her until her death. Papers relating to Roy Lucas includes correspondence, draft articles, legal files, etc., that he had been working on up to his death. Roy Lucas was a lawyer involved in Roe v. Wade and long-time friend of Baird, but had run into difficult financial times after a bout with cancer. Baird attempted to aid him financially, but had little resources himself. These papers were left with Baird following Lucas' death. Folder titles were created by the archivist. Material is arranged alphabetically.

SERIES II, PROFESSIONAL, 1949-2015 (#46.7-343.10, 311CB, 335CB-336CB, 344FB.5-344FB.8, 345FB, 307F+B.10-307F+B.11, 310F+B.1-311F+B.14, 309OB.1-309OB.5, 349OB, 347SB.1-347SB.9, 348SB.1-348SB.8), includes correspondence; promotional and sales literature; reports; administrative records; patient records; etc. The series is divided into five subseries.

Subseries A. Emko Pharmaceuticals, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, and Manhasset-Great Neck Economic Opportunity Council, 1959-1969 (46.7-52.3, 307F+B.10-307F+B.11, 347SB.1), includes reports; correspondence and memos; sales and promotional material; price and customers lists; meeting agendas and minutes; newsletters; contacts, etc., from Baird's early professional work as a sales representative and trainer and clinical director at Sandoz and Emko Pharmaceuticals, and as an employee of the Manhasset-Great Neck Economic Opportunity Council. Both Sandoz and Emko sold birth control products (as well as a variety of other products) which appears to have been Baird's main focus while working for these companies. Much of the material pertaining to these two companies consists of promotional and sales literature; advertising material; internal memos and correspondence; customer contacts and ordering information; meeting agendas and minutes; etc., related to the promotion and sale of such products as Emko Vaginal Foam and other contraceptive and feminine products marketed by these companies (see Series V for samples of Emko products). Of particular interest is one folder of personnel material consisting of resumes, job applications, telephone screening notes, and psychiatric and personality tests of female applicants for sales positions with Emko Pharmaceuticals. Although it is unclear as to what his official position was, Baird was also an employee of the Manhasset-Great Neck Economic Opportunity Council, ca.1966-1967 (perhaps as a neighborhood organization coordinator), whose original by-laws stated that its "general purpose [was] to do all things necessary or proper to aid in eliminating poverty and the causes and effects of poverty within the areas of Union Free School Districts #6 and 7 (Manhasset and Great Neck)." Material related to this work consists of meeting agendas and minutes; correspondence and memos; and by-laws, employee reports, and membership lists; etc., documenting the larger activities of the organization as well as the daily activities of employees working at the neighborhood level to establish cooperative day care centers, bus routes, food cooperatives, etc., in poorer communities. Also included are minutes of other community organizations with which employees of the Manhasset-Great Neck Economic Opportunity Council worked closely. Folder titles were created by the archivist. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B. Correspondence, 1949-2014, undated (#52.4-113.4, 310F+B.1), consists of letters related to Baird's pro-choice activism, including his letters to political and religious figures condemning their anti-choice views, stating his own views, and recommending courses of action for them; letters requesting financial and other assistance from his supporters or decrying the lack of support he was receiving; letters giving his account of his involvement in the pro-choice movement and his frustration that his role was not more recognized by other members of the movement, particularly by feminist organizations; letters describing protests and other events he organized and related threats he experienced; and correspondence with both pro-life and pro-choice activists. Of particular note are letters from women (and in some cases from men) asking Baird's help in obtaining abortions and giving detailed descriptions of their situations. The series also includes letters asking for advice regarding birth control methods including vasectomy; letters of support Baird received (including while in Charles Street Jail); letters to governors and other political and public figures expressing support for Baird and his beliefs; correspondence with and re: Baird's lawyer and friend Roy Lucas, with much of this correspondence dealing with Lucas's poor health and financial situation, and Baird's attempts to secure financial assistance for him. Additional material includes correspondence related to the opening of Baird's first clinic; the arrest of Baird and Nancy Manfredonia; the firebombing of Baird's and other clinics; letters from supporters taking issue with magazine articles criticizing Baird; correspondence regarding Baird's playing Santa Claus for needy children at various hospitals and other institutions. and letters urging Baird to reconsider his views. Many of these letters take a religious approach, while some use abusive language and include threats of physical violence or death. Full-color images of aborted fetal tissue is sometimes included with this correspondence. The subseries also includes Baird's correspondence with Brenda Loew Tatelbaum (publisher of the adult magazine EIDOS); Nancy Klein; Anne Zusselman (Klein's mother); and Father Frank Pavone, including Baird and Pavone's "Joint Statement on Reproductive Rights by Opposing Sides"; for related material, see Series I and Series II Subseries C. The subseries also includes correspondence related to Baird's dispute with Dr Warren Hern, who refused to appear with Baird at an American Humanist Association event; this led to Baird's picketing of Hern's office and to police involvement. Some letters written by Baird's third wife, Joni Scott Baird, are included. The majority of the folder titles were created by the archivist; those created by Baird and his associates appear in quotation marks. The subseries is arranged with alphabetical correspondence appearing first, followed by a chronological listing. Some overlap exists between the two groupings, as well as with other series and subseries.

Subseries C. Speeches and engagements, 1960-2014, undated (#113.5-127.7, 344FB.5, 345FB, 310F+B.2-310F+B.4, 309OB.1, 349OB, 348SB.1-348SB.2), includes brochures, fliers, and clippings; speeches, lectures, and interviews; contracts, financial records, and travel itineraries from Baird's presentations on abortion, birth control, family planning, prison reform, and other social issues. Biographical files describing Baird's early career, his activism for reproductive rights, and his arrests are also included. There is also substantial correspondence, including thank you letters, resolutions of student support, greeting cards, and clippings from the various churches and synagogues, high schools, colleges and universities, social clubs, civic associations, and women's organizations where he spoke. There are some records related to Baird's activities as an alumni of Brooklyn College (see also Series I for awards and certificates). Baird also attended numerous conferences, including the First National Conference on Abortion Laws (#114.2), the American Atheists Convention (#121.8), the American Humanist Convention (#124.6), Planned Parenthood, and the National Right to Life Conventions. These conference files include Baird's speaking notes, promotional material, some of which is annotated. Items of particular interest include Baird's comments regarding allegations made by Betty Friedan (#116.4) that he was an CIA agent, his account of 1979 fire bombing of his abortion clinic (#117.9), a flier describing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate (#115.3), a list of Planned Parenthood clinics subjected to violence (#119.4), and his working relationships with lawyer and activist Flo Kennedy (#125.12) and with Lonny Myers, M.D., a founding member of the National Abortion Rights Action League and strong advocate for reproductive rights (#124.4). For additional material on Lonny Myers see Series I. This series also contains a number of transcripts from Baird's numerous appearances on radio programs, including discussions with Father Frank Pavone concerning abortion rights (#124.4), John Willke's response to Baird's comments about his clinic being firebombed (#118.6), and his public disputes with Morton Downey, Jr. (#118.8). Transcripts representing his television appearances include The Dick Cavett Show (#115.6), Good Morning America(#120.6), and NBC Today (#113.5). There are some scattered legal documents stemming from unforseen cancellations of his presentations, which include Temple Emanuel of Lawrence (#116.2), the Hempstead, Long Island YMCA (#119.2), and Manhattanville College, whose women faculty staged a walk-out during his presentation, (#121.6). For additional legal documents see Series III, Subseries D. For related audiovisual material, and memorabilia see Series IV. Folder titles were created by the archivist. The series is arranged chronologically.

Subseries D. Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Centers, Bill Baird Institute, and Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League administrative, 1949-2014 (#127.8-279.6, 311CB, 344FB.6-344FB.8, 346FB, 310F+B.5-310F+B.13, 309OB.2-309OB.5, 347SB.2-347SB.9, 348SB.3-348SB.8), includes correspondence; financial material; legal files; internal memos, agendas, and meeting minutes; leases and mortgages; organizational documents; patient forms and informational pamphlets; personnel records; petitions; press releases; product guides for contraceptives, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals; protest and rally posters; training guides and policies and procedures manuals; subject files; etc.

Organizational materials include certificates of organization and incorporation, by-laws, lists of officers, letterhead, tax exemption applications and certificates, organizational charts, certificates of assumed name for the Bill Baird Center and Bill Baird Institute, correspondence for both the Parents Aid Society and the Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League. Internal memos, agenda, training guides, policies and procedures manuals, personnel records, and meeting minutes generally document the operation of the clinics, although some minutes for board meetings of the Parents Aid Society are also included. Patient forms and informational pamphlets included in this series were produced by a number of organizations that provided reproductive and women's health services and were likely used as examples when the Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Center, and Bill Baird Institute created their own pamphlets and forms. Progress reports include daily reports of the type and number of procedures performed on a daily basis (e.g. abortion, birth control, sterilization, vasectomy, IUD insertion, etc.) as well as the increase and decrease in requests for those services over the days, months, and years. Material labeled as "Professional Affiliations" include minutes, by-laws, internal memos, training materials, etc., from organizations in which either Bill Baird was an individual member or the Parents Aid Society was an institutional member. These organizations include the National Abortion Rights Action League, National Abortion Federation, and the New York Civil Liberties Union where Baird served as a board member for many years. Most material designated as "subject files" contains reference material on subjects including abortion procedures, abortion and the law, birth defects, sterilization, cesarean section, sexually transmitted diseases, etc., as well as policies and procedures manuals of other women's health clinics, likely used as reference materials to create Parents Aid Society/Bill Baird Center/Bill Baird Institute fliers, pamphlets, information packets, training and procedure manuals, etc.

Correspondence in this series (1963-2012) includes letters to the Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Centers, Bill Baird Institute, and Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League from landlords, utility companies, etc., seeking payment for past-due rent, utilities, medical and office supplies, etc., for the various centers; civic organizations and women's health clinics requesting published pamphlets about birth control and abortion, and information about securing speaking engagements with Bill Baird; and individuals -- including men and women across the US and abroad -- seeking birth control and abortion information and advice, as well as from clients seeking assistance with post-abortion insurance claims. There are also holiday cards, notes, and letters from vendors; holiday greetings, thank you notes, etc., from patients to staff members that include updates regarding post-surgical symptoms, thank you letters to staff for their assistance before, during, and following their procedures, and requests from students for research materials on abortion and birth control for school projects. Also included is correspondence from pro-life activists which includes hate mail, Biblical citations regarding morality and murder, and prayers for Baird and staff asking that they discontinue offering abortion services. Among this correspondence are a number of full-color images of aborted fetal tissue.

Financial material in this series includes material from the operation of the Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Centers, Bill Baird Institute (all under the official corporation of the Parents Aid Society) and the Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League. Document types include balance sheets, account books, ledgers, invoices, receipts and IOUs, tax returns, and checking account materials. Most receipts and invoices related to utilities, rent, travel expenses, minor renovations, social events, credit card machines, and office supplies were removed before processing, while material related to medical supplies, lab tests, advertising, security, and education were kept to show how the Parents' Aid Society used their cash flow to operate, publicize, and secure their clinics. Much of the incoming cash flow is defined by the relationship between the Parents Aid Society clinics and the doctors who performed services. Although doctors worked inside the physical structure of the clinic, they rented their work spaces from the clinic and paid Parents Aid Society referral fees for each service. Parents Aid Society, in turn, maintained the clinic space, collected fees from patients, and provided medical supplies (for a fee). They also were responsible for providing information, counseling services, and educational material to patients. The Society used several bank accounts to manage their income and expenses, and the material related to these accounts makes up the bulk of the financial material. Checking account material includes check registers, cancelled checks, and bank statements. Cancelled checks were removed when registers including those checks could be identified; unidentifiable registers are foldered separately by date. Since many of the banks the Society used were bought out by other banks over the lifetimes of the accounts, the accounts often retained the same number over time. For example, the account ending in "2119" began with Hempstead Bank, then Norstar Bank, then Fleet Bank, and is noted as Hempstead number 1, Norstar number 1, and Fleet number1. Another account, ending in 1672, is noted as Hempstead number 2, etc. Although the bulk of the checking account material is from Hempstead, Norstar, or Fleet Banks, additional banks used by the Society include Shawmut Bank, State Street Bank, and The Boston Five Bank. All accounts were used for expenses including legal defense, payroll, and operating costs; deposits to these accounts came from fees collected from patients and doctors, as well as donations. Additional bank accounts belonging to the doctors affiliated with the clinics are foldered separately, and show payments to Parents Aid Society for rent and referral fees. Several of these doctors also acted as medical directors for the clinics, and their accounts reflect purchases of medical supplies, in addition to Parents Aid Society expenses. Daily logs of cash receipts show the number of patients seen, types of services performed (including Pap smears, pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease tests, Rhogam shots, birth control and sterilization services, and abortions) and prices. Also included are IOUs from patients who could not pay the full cost at the time of service. Doctors and office managers kept track of cash flow using balance sheets, both loose and bound. These describe expenses such as payroll, insurance, supplies, tests, advertising, rent and renovation costs, and security. They also show income from doctors, patients, and grants/donations. Balance sheets are arranged chronologically when possible. Income tax documents and annual reports of charitable organizations were also retained, along with supporting documentation (including balance sheets and adjustment entries) and correspondence between Parents Aid Society, accountant Ken Gold, and the Internal Revenue Service. Tax materials detail the clinics' profits and losses, and show an ongoing struggle to maintain tax-free status. Cash flow through Parents Aid Society can also be shown through the retained invoices. Medical supplies such as lab testing, clinic equipment, drugs, contraceptives, and biohazard waste removal were obtained through several New York-area and Boston-area labs and vendors, and show a wide range of reproductive health and abortion purchases. Parents Aid Society also provided cookies, milk, and coffee for patients. Advertising was another area of financial investment for the Parents Aid Society clinics. Materials include clipped newspaper advertisement proofs for the clinics along with invoicing for radio spots, print advertising (including local daily papers as well as student newspaper and charity programs), and airplane banner advertising. The Parents Aid Society financial records also show a concern for security, prompted by repeated attempts by protesters to damage and destroy clinic property. Retained materials show investment in both personnel (contracts with security agencies) and systems (invoices for alarm systems, perimeter lights, door locks, and iron grillwork) goods and services. Following the 1979 firebombing of the clinic in Hempstead, New York, insurance claims and requests for reimbursement detail damage and loss to the clinic and to clients' possessions; invoices for rebuilding and redecorating the clinic, as well as invoices from a private investigation into the events leading up to the bombing, reflect Parents Aid Society's heightened security concerns. Although these are business accounts, there is substantial overlap between Baird's personal accounts and those of the Parents Aid Society. Baird often seemed to loan personal funds to the Society when needed, but also paid household bills with Society funds when necessary (See Series I).

Legal files include correspondence, legal research, notes, amicus curiae briefs, police reports, etc. Since legal material arrived in no discernable order, materials were organized by case. Many case files involve Bill Baird and/or the Parents Aid Society/Bill Baird Center/Bill Baird Institute directly. These include defamation and assault cases, as well as complaints for judicial misconduct initiated by Baird. Several Baird-related cases challenged laws regarding reproductive rights at the state and federal level, including Baird v. Eisenstadt, Baird v. Bellotti, and Baird v. Bellotti II. Those cases naming the Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Center, or Bill Baird Institute or doctors contracted there mainly consist of malpractice suits initiated by patients who suffered as a result of procedures performed at the Parents Aid Society/Bill Baird Center/Bill Baird Institute and required additional hospitalization or care after their procedure; or were suits initiated by service providers in an attempt to collect unpaid debts from the Parents Aid Society/Bill Baird Center/Bill Baird Institute. Cases where neither Baird nor his organizations were named as plaintiff or defendant were likely collected during legal research for those cases in which Baird was involved. The bulk of these cases deal with reproductive rights directly, although there are several (e.g. Dow Chemical v. Stephenson, which deals with the rights of individuals suffering side effects from Agent Orange) which seem unrelated.

Press releases, protests posters, and petitions document the Parents Aid Society's activism in the area of reproductive rights. Press releases were created under the names Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Center, Bill Baird Institute, Stop Today's Overpopulation, Abortion Freedom League, and Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League by Baird and staff to inform their members and the general public about attacks on reproductive rights as well as the activities of the organization in opposition to those attacks. They also invited interested parties to join them for rallies and protests. Many press releases included attachments in the form of letters sent to religious figures, politicians, and police officers whom Baird believed had infringed upon personal liberties by protesting legally protected abortion rights. Protest posters in this series are generally hand-made posters constructed by Baird and his employees or volunteers and used during protests and rallies. Petitions included in this series are overwhelmingly in support of women's rights to birth control and abortion, but a number of others were signed requesting that Baird be freed from jail following his conviction and imprisonment in the Charles Street jail in Boston, minors' access to abortion, in opposition to a human life amendment, etc.

Folder titles in this series were created by the archivist. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries E. Patient records, 1968-1993 (#280.1-306.8, 312-334.7, 335CB-336CB), consists of patient information cards and questionnaires, appointment cards, forms acknowledging possible risks and side effects of treatment and giving consent for procedures, etc. Patients visited the variously-named centers for a number of treatments including testing for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, premarital blood testing; prescription of oral birth control, insertion of IUDs, pregnancy testing, abortions, vasectomies, etc. While a number of patient forms include male names in the patient name section, these were generally the names of significant others who accompanied a female patient to the center. Few records of male patients who received vasectomies or who visited for testing for sexually transmitted diseases are extant in the records. Patient questionnaires varied from time period to time period and from location to location, but generally include the following information: patient name, occupation, age, marital status, address, and telephone number; date; name of referrer; reason for visit; number of pregnancies, deliveries, abortions, and miscarriages; previous pregnancy issues; type of birth control; surgical history; previous medical issues; current medications and/or allergies; date and result of last Pap smear and period; clinic counselor comments after meeting with patient; and doctor's notations. Some, but not all questionnaires also inquire as to religious affiliation. Questionnaires may also be attached to cytology or pathology reports and/or forms including acknowledgment of risk and permission to prescribe or operate. None of the questionnaires inquire as to the race of the patient. Patient records appear to be incomplete with only small sample of records from the New York centers and a larger sample of records from the Boston center being extant. Patient information cards include much of the same information but also requests additional information including number of children and their ages; yearly income; father's occupation (referring to the woman's current pregnancy); whether the patient lives with her parents; educational background; notations as to how many weeks pregnant the patient is; etc. Each card also includes a signed statement verifying that the signer is in no way affiliated with law enforcement; supplied true and accurate information; voluntarily sought abortion advice, did not hold Baird or the Parents Aid Society responsible for any action they may undertake regarding the pregnancy; and were not charged a fee. There are no records of medical procedures included with these cards, although it is assumed that these were patients seeking abortions. It is assumed that a number of these patient information cards were completed prior to the legalization of abortion in New York state (1970) and in the United States (1973). Most information cards were completed by individuals residing in the New England states, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, with a smaller amount from the remainder of the United States. While most cards were completed by women, some cards were completed by men. It is assumed that these individuals were significant others of women seeking abortion information.

Subseries F. Notes, 1965-2015 (#337.1-343.10, 310F+B.14) contains drafts and fragments of speeches and press releases primarily related to Baird's viewpoints on reproductive rights. Also included are media and personal contact lists; personal to-do lists; itineraries; drawings; directions; and notes written by others describing Baird's legal disputes, public appearances, and accomplishments. Most documents contain a number of each type of writing on each. This material was unsorted with some direct mailings still in unopened envelopes. Some notes were written on his personal stationery or the letterhead of his organizations, including the Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Center, Bill Baird Institute, and Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League. The bulk were written on original and copies of unrelated documents, including articles, brochures, published pamphlets on birth control and abortion; letters from vendors, and newspapers, which he used as scrap paper. Notebooks maintained by Baird were dismantled. Folder titles in this series were created by the archivist. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series III, PRO-LIFE PRINTED EPHEMERA, 1954-2012 (#350.1-397.4, 426FB.1-426FB.3, 427F+B.1-427F+B.8, 427F+B.17, 309OB.6-309OB.7), contains pamphlets, catalogs, conference materials, fliers, program announcements, fact sheets, direct mail, and forms that Bill Baird and his associates solicited and collected from pro-life organizations. These printed ephemeral materials document the activities of hundreds of pro-life organizations at both the national and state level, primarily after the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Together, the material provides insight into how pro-life and religious organizations framed the issues of abortion and contraception over several decades. Related topics addressed by these materials include premarital sex, sexual orientation, abstinence education, adoption, and euthanasia. Organizations range from well-staffed national nonprofits focused on political lobbying to small grassroots organizations of a few people, sometimes represented only by one event flier. Many groups are affiliated with religious denominations; some articulate their stance on abortion in their name (e.g. Lutherans for Life), some do not. Ephemera from crisis pregnancy hotlines and centers, pregnancy homes, and post-abortion counseling services is also present in this series. Much material is not dated; in some cases pieces of ephemera may have circulated for years after their date of creation.

This material was received mostly unsorted; some direct mailings were still in unopened envelopes. In some cases organizations listed may only be represented by one item; others have hundreds of pieces of ephemera. Material has been sorted alphabetically by organization or business; the city and state has been listed when evident. For larger groups, often represented by multiple folders, there is a wide range of material. National Right to Life Committee folders (#375.2-376.1), for example, contain fund-raising appeals, petitions, fliers, press releases, pamphlets, educational tracts, charts detailing United States presidential candidates positions on abortion, etc. Baird, his clinics, and various family members and friends were on the mailing list of a large number of these pro-life organizations; it is not unusual to find pieces of direct mail addressed to Joni (Scott) Baird or to the Parents Aid Society.

National Right to Life has held annual conferences since 1971 to provide pro-life education and training for members. Baird began attending these and other pro-life conventions in the 1970s, and collected information packets handed out at the conferences as well as printed materials available from organizations which had tables at the events. Some of this material was kept by Baird, and received by the Library, grouped together by convention (mainly in plastic bags). This material has been kept together, and is listed chronologically by convention at the end of the alphabetical run of organizations. Conference folders may also contain information about the schedule of the conferences themselves. Printed ephemera that was not able to be identified as originating from a specific organization has been grouped generally by format and is listed at the end of the inventory, along with other ephemera that was created by individuals.

Series IV, PRO-CHOICE AND WOMEN'S HEALTH PRINTED EPHEMERA, 1950-2014 (#397.5-425.6, 426FB.4-426FB.5, 427F+B.9-427F+B.16, 309OB.8-309OB.10), contains pamphlets, catalogs, conference materials, fliers, announcements for programs, fact sheets, direct mail, and forms Baird solicited or collected from pro-choice organizations and women's health clinics. Ephemera found here were created by organizations focused on population control, family planning, pro-choice political action, feminism, and abortion law. Some large organizations listed (such as the American Civil Liberties Union or the National Organization for Women) have broad policy agendas, but the material included here is focused on abortion and reproductive rights. Many local chapters of larger organizations are also represented. Smaller organizations include student health centers (some of which sponsored Bill Baird's lectures), women's health clinics and hospitals, which are represented by price charts, advertising pamphlets, and topical handouts.

This material was received mostly unsorted. In some cases organizations listed may only be represented by one item; others have hundreds of pieces of ephemera. Material has been sorted alphabetically by organization or business; the city and state has been listed when evident. For larger groups, often represented by multiple folders, there is a wide range of material. Topics addressed by this material include civil rights, contraception, abortion, political action on behalf of women's reproductive rights, women's health clinic procedures, and population growth. Much of the pre-Roe v. Wade material in this series was put out by population control organizations; together the ephemera tracks the change in the kinds of groups which were undertaking policy and public outreach work on issues of contraception and abortion.

About a quarter of material in this series was not produced by a pro-choice organization per se, but consists of pamphlets, brochures, and booklets advising women on health issues and/or contraception. This material seems to be a mixture of material Baird may have made available to patients in his clinics and material he collected at conferences or solicited for some other reason. Ephemera have been grouped together by contraceptive product, or by health issue. When a large amount of material is present for one type of contraception (e.g. the birth control pill), it has been further organized by manufacturer if known. Women's health material includes booklets about menstruation for teenagers, most produced by Tampax. In general, this material is a mixture of that produced by health authorities, manufacturers, and advocacy groups. Among the many brochures about AIDS are some created by Gay Men's Health Crisis. This material is listed in the inventory following the alphabetical organizations.

Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS AND MEMORABILIA, 1949-2014 (#425.7-434, PD.1-PD.4f+, 431FBm-436FBm, 427F+B.18-427F+B.23, 438F+B, 437OBm, 347SB.10-347SB.12, 348SB.9, 439SB.1m-439.2m), includes photographs of Bill Baird throughout his life time, as a child, teenager, and college student; and at pro-choice and pro-life events, protests, speaking engagements; family events, etc., as well as working as a representative of Emko and Sandoz pharmaceuticals. Other photographs document the Parents Aid Society, Bill Baird Center, Bill Baird Institute, and Pro-Choice Defense League/Pro-Choice League and their work. Also included are photographs of a number of pro-choice and pro-life activists including Lonny Meyers, Marilyn Fitterman, John Higgins, Henry Hyde, Father Frank Pavone, and Joseph Scheidler. Many photographs of pro-life and pro-choice protests in Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, and other locations around the country are also included. Baird's first wife Eve Baird and his children, as well as his third wife, Joni (Scott) Baird and her children are also documented. in Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

The bulk of memorabilia is comprised of bumper stickers, stamps, buttons, bracelets, t-shirts, etc., documenting the pro-choice and pro-life movements and were mass produced and given out or sold at protests, rallies, and conferences where it is likely that Baird obtained them. Other materials including oral contraceptives, contraceptive foams and jellies, vaginal applicators, condoms, curettes, uterine sounds, speculums, douche kits, diaphragms, Foley catheters, dilators, a tentaculum, and a model of a uterus were likely obtained by Baird while a pharmaceutical representative or were retained by Baird once the last of his clinics closed. Other materials retained from his clinics include building signs, nameplates, and print blocks for letter head. Objects such as the "cross of oppression," a gold key, and stone tablet sign were used in protests. The series is arranged with photographs appearing first, arranged chronologically and memorabilia following, arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, CLIPPINGS, 1950-2014 (#440.1-459.4), contains clippings documenting Bill Baird's advocacy in the areas of birth control, overpopulation, abortion, and reproductive rights. Articles include features on Baird as well as reports on his appearances at college campuses, meetings of feminist organizations, churches, and other venues. Many articles chronicle Baird's various arrests for distributing free contraceptives, including his conviction in Massachusetts that culminated in the Supreme Court case Eisenstadt v. Baird which ultimately legalized birth control for all Americans in 1972 and became a milestone right to privacy decision. Other articles document the Supreme Court cases Baird v. Bellotti (1976) and Baird v. Bellotti II (1979), which secured the right to abortion for minors without parental consent. Folders are arranged chronologically.


Bill Baird was born in 1932 in Brooklyn, New York, to Olga (Knespel) and William Baird. He was one of five children. He had two brothers, Robert and Edward, and two sisters Myra and Louise (who died in childhood). He attended public schools in Brooklyn, New York, later attending Brooklyn College and graduating in 1955 with a BS. It is unclear whether the degree received was in biology or physical education, his major having been listed differently in his yearbook and commencement program. While attending university he was a member of the university's soccer team. Following university, Baird entered the United States Army (1955), but was honorably discharged in 1957 due to injuries sustained in a car accident. He also worked as a pharmaceutical representative (and later clinical director) for the Emko Company (ca.1955-1965) and the Sandoz Company (ca.1959-1962), as well as working for the Manhasset-Great Neck Economic Opportunity Council (ca.1966-1967) whose original by-laws state that its "general purpose [was] to do all things necessary or proper to aid in eliminating poverty and the causes and effects of poverty within the areas of Union Free School Districts #6 and 7 (Manhasset and Great Neck)." Baird attended New York Medical College from 1961-1962, but did not receive a degree. He married Evelyn Kunow in 1955. The couple had four children: Laurie, Bonnie, Dawn, and Scott. In 1971 the couple appears to have made an agreement to begin living apart for the family's safety, he having received death threats from pro-life activists. (Baird and his wife appear to have become estranged during this period, but did not divorce until 1995.) Following this agreement, Baird began a relationship with Sue Vogel, who served as treasurer and administrator of the Parents Aid Society (ca.1973-1985). The relationship ended and Vogel left the Parents Aid Society. Following the end of his relationship with Vogel, Baird began a relationship with Arlene Trolman, nurse and counselor at the Bill Baird Center. Following Baird's divorce from Evelyn Baird, he married Trolman. The couple divorced in ca.2000. He later began a relationship with Joni Scott Baird and the couple married in 2005.

By 1963 Bill Baird began speaking publically on the topics of birth control, overpopulation, abortion, and reproductive rights, at all types of venues including college campuses, meetings of feminist organizations, churches, etc. Due to stringent birth control laws in many states, Baird was always at odds with police because of his display of birth control devices and distribution of abortion literature. Between 1963 and 1969 Baird was either threatened with arrest or arrested and jailed for distributing free birth control foam, contraceptives, and birth control and abortion literature. He was arrested and jailed eight times in five different states including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. His arrest and conviction in Massachusetts in 1967 culminated in the Supreme Court case Eisenstadt v. Baird which ultimately legalized birth control for all Americans in 1972 and became a milestone right to privacy decision. Baird was also successful in two other Supreme Court cases, Baird v. Bellotti (1976) and Baird v. Bellotti II (1979), which secured the right to abortion for minors without parental consent.

In 1963, Baird established the Parents Aid Society, a clinic offering free advice regarding reproductive health, sexually transmitted disease, and birth control, as well as providing free contraceptive devices to the needy and referrals for abortions. The Society was incorporated in New York in 1965 and established a center on Main Street in Hempstead. It appears to have been originally envisioned as a membership organization that would fund its activities through membership fees, collections from university campus clubs, and other fund raising including grants, although this proved unsustainable. In its early years, the Society operated a Mobile Care Van, better-known as the "Plan Van" which traveled to various locations to provide services to the poor. By 1973, the Society incorporated in Massachusetts and established a second location on Boylston Street in Boston. During the Society's early years it appears to have spawned two related organizations the Abortion Freedom League and Stop Today's Over Population. Stop Today's Over Population was formed in 1970 and intended as a for-profit corporation whose chapters would refer patients needing birth control, abortions, or sterilization to the Bill Baird Center in New York. Abortion Freedom League appears to have been active issuing press releases in 1972. Neither organization survived long.

As early as 1970 the Society's office in New York began being referred to as the Bill Baird Center and as early as 1974 the Boston office began being called the Bill Baird Abortion Center. Jointly they became known as the Bill Baird Centers by 1976, although the organization's corporate name always remained the Parents Aid Society. It appears that by 1970 in New York, and by 1974 in Boston, the Centers began operating under a different system than earlier. It was around this time that the Centers began operating as a counseling and internal referral agency. The Centers each operated a building with waiting, counseling, operating, and recovery rooms where employees of the Centers ran the daily operations, scheduling appointments and referring patients for birth control, abortion, sterilization, and vasectomy procedures to doctors who leased offices at the Centers and had the use of operating and recovery rooms and medical supplies and equipment at the Centers. Center staff collected fees from patients and the leasing doctors paid a portion of those fees back to the Centers for scheduling, equipment use, medical testing, and medical supplies used. Initial and followup counseling care was provided by Center staff with educational backgrounds in social work/psychology/psychiatry. By 1982, the Society began using the assumed name "Bill Baird Institute" to refer to its educational and legislative efforts. The centers seemed to have operated at multiple locations over time, having had two locations in Boston, and several in Long Island, at one time operating one in Hempstead and one in Hauppauge at the same time. It appears that the Boston Bill Baird Center closed its Boston location ca.1990 due to non-payment of rent and other bills. In 1993, the Hempstead clinic closed due to a lack of funding.

Around 1990, Bill Baird established the non-profit Bill Baird Pro-Choice Defense League, later known as the Pro-Choice Defense League and then the Pro-Choice League. Its mission is to "educate the public about the history of the struggle for reproductive freedom and privacy rights as well as about current issues and the future of these laws." It is co-directed by Bill Baird and his current wife Joni (Scott) Baird. Since its establishment it has sponsored protests of anti-abortion activities and rallies for pro-choice activism, as well as issuing press releases featuring reproductive rights news. As of 2018, it was still in operation and Bill and Joni (Scott) Baird were living in Long Island, New York.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1930-2014 (#1.1-46.6, 344FB.1-344FB.4, 307F+B.1-307F+B.9, 308OB.1-308OB.15)
  2. Series II. Professional, 1949-2015 (#46.7-343.10, 311CB, 335CB-336CB, 344FB.5-344FB.8, 345FB, 307F+B.10-307F+B.11, 310F+B.1-311F+B.14, 309OB.1-309OB.5, 349OB, 347SB.1-347SB.9, 348SB.1-348SB.8)
  3. Series III. Pro-life printed ephemera, 1954-2012 (#350.1-397.4, 426FB.1-426FB.3, 427F+B.1-427F+B.8, 427F+B.17, 309OB.6-309OB.7)
  4. Series IV. Pro-choice and women's health printed ephemera, 1950-2014 (#397.5-425.6, 426FB.4-426FB.5, 427F+B.9-427F+B.16, 309OB.8-309OB.10)
  5. Series V. Photographs and memorabilia, ca.1930-2010 (#425.7-434, PD.1-PD.4f+, 431FBm-436FBm, 427F+B.18-427F+B.23, 438F+B, 437OBm, 347SB.10-347SB.12, 348SB.9, 439SB.1m-439.2m)
  6. Series VI. Clippings, 1950-2014 (#440.1-459.4)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2015-M85, 2016-M91

The papers of Bill Baird were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Bill Baird in July 2015 and April 2016.

Processing Information

Processed: August 2018

By: Emilyn Brown, Susan Earle, Jenny Gotwals, and Mark Vassar with assistance from Danube Johnson, Ella Lesatele, Henry Shull, Caitlin Walker, and Margaret Dalton.

Updated: September 2021

By: Mark Vassar

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.


Baird, Bill. Papers of Bill Baird, 1930-2015 (inclusive),1963-1993 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Elsie Rodd Fund, Radcliffe College Class of 1950 Fund, Schlesinger Library General Gift Fund, the Ware Acquisitions Fund, the Alice Jeanette Ward Fund, and the Archival Processing Project.

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. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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