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COLLECTION Identifier: 99-M58--99-M155

Papers of Melissa Ludtke, 1977-1997


Papers of sports writer and author, Melissa Ludtke.


  • Creation: 1977-1997

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted, except that only transcripts of interviews, with identifying information removed, are available for research; the originals are closed until the likely death of the interviewee. In addition, researchers must sign a special permission form.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. The donor has transferred copyright in her papers to 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.


2.42 linear feet (2 cartons, 1 file box)

Series I, Ludtke v. Kuhn (#1v-17), includes court records and press coverage concerning the case, as well as correspondence, speeches, and a research study on women sports reporters by Leba Hertz.

Series II, On Our Own: Unmarried Motherhood in America (#18-74), includes transcripts of interviews with single mothers conducted by Ludtke as part of her research. Identifying information has been removed; original transcripts are closed until the likely death of the interviewee. Also included are notes, drafts, printed material arranged by subject, as well as accounts of visits and conversations by Ludtke and donor sperm information she accumulated in the course of trying to become pregnant. Folder headings in quotations are those of Ludtke; in the case of named interviewees, pseudonyms given by ML in On Our Own are used. Readers must sign a special permission form to use this series.


Born in 1951 in Iowa City, Melissa Ludtke was the eldest of five children of James and Jean (Edwards) Ludtke. She grew up in Amherst, where her father taught finance at the University of Massachusetts and her mother earned a Ph.D. in anthropology. A 1973 graduate of Wellesley College, Ludtke worked for ABC Sports and Sports Illustrated. Barred from the locker rooms during the 1977 World Series, she gained national attention when she successfully sued major league baseball to gain access for women reporters. She later worked as a researcher for CBS News, for Time's Los Angeles and Boston bureaus reporting on the lives of children and families, and for Joseph Kennedy's first campaign for the United States House of Representatives.

In 1978 Ludtke married sportswriter Eric Lincoln from whom she was divorced four years later. In 1988 Ludtke began to consider the possibility of having a child as a single mother. A Nieman fellowship at Harvard allowed her to begin what she described as "a research project for my own life," interviewing teenage mothers as well as women who had chosen single motherhood later in life. Her book, On Our Own: Unmarried Motherhood in America, was published in 1997; in June of that year she adopted a baby girl from China whom she named Maya.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Ludtke v. Kuhn
  2. Series II. On Our Own: Unmarried Motherhood in America

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 99-M58, 99-M155

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Melissa Ludtke in April and October 1999.


  1. Carton 1: 1v-2, 4-26
  2. Carton 2: 27-62
  3. Box 3: 63-74

Processing Information

Processed: June 2000

By: Anne Engelhart

Ludtke, Melissa. Papers of Melissa Ludtke, 1977-1997: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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