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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 707: Vt-112: MP-47: Phon-33: DVD-3

Records of Lamaze International, 1849-2006 (inclusive), 1951-2001 (bulk)


Collection includes administrative records and the web site for Lamaze International, an organization that educates women and men about pregnancy, the birth process, and teaches psychological practices and physical techniques to help women overcome pain in labor.


  • Creation: 1849-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1951-2001

Language of Materials

Most materials in English; some materials in French, Spanish, German, Italian.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material. Although most of the records are open to research, the following folders, access to which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy, are restricted: Folder #4.16 is closed until January 1, 2048; #PD.1 is closed until January 1, 2044; #PD.3 is closed until January 1, 2055; #6.12-7.4 are closed until January 1, 2043-January 1, 2047 ; #9.13-9.14, 9.16 are closed until January 1, 2080- January 1, 2082; #PD.22sl is closed until January 1, 2057; #PD.36sl is closed until January 1, 2050; #PD.37sl is closed until January 1, 2057; #PD.39sl is closed until January 1, 2061.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the unpublished papers created by Lamaze International is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library.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. Permission to quote from published Lamaze materials must be obtained in writing from the Lamaze headquarters in Washington, DC.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


5.71 linear feet ((11 + 1/2 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 3 folio folders, 1 folio+ folders, 1 supersize folder, 30 photograph folders, 133 slides, electronic records)

Records of Lamaze International include correspondence; meeting minutes; annual conference programs; some membership records; publications and publicity; photographs and slides depicting childbirth classes and the birth process; conferences; and biographical material about Lamaze co-founder Elisabeth Bing. Arrangement and folder titles were created by the archivist. Original titles appear in quotations. ASPO produced myriad newsletters of different titles, a list of which appears at the end of this finding aid. They have been removed from this collection and transferred for individual cataloging. Audiovisual material was removed and cataloged separately; see Audio Collection of Lamaze International, 1956-2004 (T-297, Phon-33 ) and Lamaze International Moving image collection, 1956-2010 (Vt-112, MP-47, DVD-3). Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Series I, ADMINISTRATION AND HISTORY, 1951-2001, n.d. (#1.1-7.10, 13FB.1m-13FB.2m, OD.1, SD.1, PD.1-PD.5, E.1), contains correspondence; reports; interviews; memos; meeting minutes; membership and financial records; guidelines and policies; publications and publicity materials; etc., relating to the formation and administrative functions of the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO)/Lamaze International. Incorporated in 1960 as the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO) within a decade the group modified its name to ASPO/Lamaze International. This series is divided into two subseries.

Subseries A, Administrative, 1951-2001, n.d. (#1.1-4.21, 13FB.1m-13FB.2m, OD.1, SD.1, PD.1), contains correspondence; reports; interviews; minutes; membership and financial records; guidelines and policies; publications and publicity materials; and other records that document the formation and operation of ASPO/Lamaze. Founded in New York City in 1960, the national headquarters were later relocated to Washington, D.C. Correspondence in this subseries discusses power dynamics and occasional tensions between chapters and the national organization. It also includes detailed records about the requirements for accreditation and teacher certification. This subseries was created from records received from several members of ASPO's national staff as well as teachers and physicians, nurses, and administrators from chapters. It includes administrative records and papers created and kept by some of the pioneering members of ASPO, including Heinz Luschinsky, Deborah Tanzer, Gary Hickernell, and "Sunnye" [Esta Ruth] Strickland, who were instrumental in ASPO's early history. Very little material by or about co-founder Marjorie Karmel exists within this collection, the exception being correspondence with Sunnye Strickland (#4.11) and some education material. The papers of ASPO co-founder Elisabeth Bing appear in subseries B. Birth reports collected by Strickland (#4.16) are closed until January 1, 2048 through January 1, 2052, as marked. Strickland's correspondence contains many letters detailing women's birth experience; personal names and identifications were redacted.

Files pertaining to the board of directors shed light on many projects undertaken by ASPO, including the establishment of protocols for using films to educate. Correspondence and meeting minutes of the Board frankly discuss tensions in the organization (among divisions and between the local chapters and national administration) and the development of organizational policy. The subseries includes information about French obstetrician, Pierre Vellay, who wrote Childbirth without Pain. A pioneer in the movement of psychoprophylaxis in labor and the active participation of in the delivery process, Vellay visited America in 1963 at the invitation of the ASPO. Psychoprophylaxis in delivery and the Lamaze method, however, met with fierce criticism from some physicians and the general public; this subseries documents the animosity expressed toward ASPO in its formative years. Materials related to the policies, formation, and regulation of state chapters are also found in this subseries. Records created by those chapters (correspondence, publicity, publications) are located in Series III. This subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B. Elisabeth Bing and Benjamin Segal, 1960-2001 (#5.1-7.10, PD.2-PD.5), contains correspondence, clippings, interviews, speeches, writings, and photographs of ASPO/Lamaze co-founder, Elizabeth Bing and the correspondence, notes, obstetrician reports, and writings of physician Benjamin Segal. A trained physical therapist, Bing became a champion of the Lamaze method in 1960. After helping Marjorie Karmel officially assemble the group, Bing began teaching the Lamaze method of prepared childbirth to pregnant women at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She worked tirelessly to promote the Lamaze method and maintained an active leadership role in the ASPO's New York City chapter throughout her career. In 1978 she founded the Elisabeth Bing Center for Parents in New York City. The Center taught tens of thousands of women the Lamaze method. Bing has helped educate women beyond New York by lecturing at colleges, hospitals and communities across the United States and abroad as well as by publishing several books. Some of Bing's shorter writings, (articles, essays, and letters to the editor) as well as transcripts of some speeches and interviews with Bing appear in this subseries.

One of the initial and most influential members of ASPO's organizing committee, Dr. Benjamin Segal helped shape the organization and often mediated disputes that arose in the group's early history, when full membership was open only to physicians. The tiered structured of the newly-founded organization resulted in some tension and disagreement among the unequal members; Segal's correspondence (as well as the early meeting minutes) indicate that he sought to ameliorate conflict. Obstetrician reports (#6.12-7.4) are closed as marked. This subseries is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically.

Series II, CONFERENCES AND CONVENTIONS, 1967-2002 (#7.11-9.5, PD.6), contains notes, publicity materials, some papers, and official programs pertaining to the operation and outcome of ASPO/Lamaze's annual national conference. Correspondence related to planning meeting locations is located in Series I, Subseries B. Material related to the policies, formation, and regulation of state chapters are found in this Series I, Subseries A. This subseries is arranged chronologically, then alphabetically.

Series III, CHAPTERS, 1967- 2006 (#9.6-11.10, FD.2, PD.7-PD.8), contains correspondence; meeting minutes; notes; publicity and promotional materials; schedules; events; and lists created by ASPO/Lamaze chapters throughout the United States. Subject to authorization of the national Board of Directors, members of the ASPO could join together to form a chapter for the purpose of providing childbirth education services to the community and raising awareness of and enlisting support for the national organization. Newsletters produced by chapters were transferred to the Women's Newsletter Collection; titles of these publications are listed at the end of this finding aid. The quantity of chapter records varies greatly; records of some chapters, such as New York City and West Chester, New York and Los Angeles, are detailed and copious for periods of time. Others, such as Nashville, contain sparse records. This subseries is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically.

Series IV, SUBJECT FILES, 1849, 1962-2001 (#11.11-12.6, FD.3, PD.9), contains press releases, announcements, programs and publicity materials, and reports dedicated to childbirth education, gestation, prenatal nutrition, pain, childbirth without medication, breast feeding, and other maternity topics, in the United States and abroad. Folders containing files that arrived labeled appear in quotation marks. This subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1960-2000, n.d. (#PD.10-PD.39sl), contains loose photographs and slides documenting Elisabeth Bing, childbirth classes, the ASPO national headquarters and staff (primarily women), educational and promotional activities, group shots at conferences, publicity for the film Nan's Class, reunion classes, and photographs and slides used in some of ASPO's magazines, posters, and other promotional material. It also includes a number of photographs of women in labor, given with permission of the subject, for ASPO's use in classes. The majority of photographs and slides arrived loose and unordered. Folder titles in quotes reflect photographs found in labeled envelopes. Photographs and slides of women delivering their babies are closed as marked. This series arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, OVERSIZED, 1966-1995, n.d. (#13FB.1m-13.FB.2m, FD.1-FD.3, OD.1, SD.1), is the shelf list for oversized material found throughout this collection and listed in previous series.


Incorporated in 1960, the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO) grew from the experiences and beliefs of two women, Marjorie Karmel and Elisabeth Bing, and their personal experience with "natural childbirth"—methods of delivery which used little or no medical interference and focused upon the joy of childbirth as a natural life process.

A native of New York, Karmel delivered a baby in France in the 1950s, under the guidance of Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze. At the time in America, medical professionals commonly treated labor and delivery from a brusque clinical perspective—as a process needing to be controlled, like disease. A widespread focus on the intolerable pain of labor made it standard procedure to restrain and heavily sedate women. In many cases, however, drugs prevented women from being able to properly push, confused women and exacerbated fears, and adversely affected the baby as well. Afraid and isolated from their partners, many women described childbirth as a horrifying, unnatural, emotionally painful experience. Disturbed by these attitudes toward birth, French obstetrician Ferdinand Lamaze proposed that the intense physical and emotional pain women experienced in childbirth resulted largely from social conditioning.

In 1951, Lamaze visited Russia and became acquainted with the pioneering work by psychologist Ivan Pavlov. Repeated experiments with animals led Pavlov to conclude that thinking beings learned to automatically respond (without conscious thought) to stimuli once that stimuli became expected. Intrigued by Pavlov's work, Lamaze envisioned that pregnant women could be taught practices to help them overcome painful contractions in labor. When Marjorie Karmel delivered her child in France following Lamaze's method, she reported the experience as transcendent; not without pain, but filled with joy nonetheless. The book she wrote detailing her experience, Thank You, Dr. Lamaze (1959) attracted the attention of many pregnant women and childbirth educators, including Elisabeth Bing, a physical therapist. Bing had been teaching the Grantly Dick-Read (author of Childbirth without Fear) method of natural childbirth which taught women to be more passive in delivery, surrendering their bodies to contractions. The Lamaze method advocated that women be active participants, employing psychosomatic practices, controlled breathing techniques, and mental preparation to cope with pain in labor and facilitate delivery without drugs. Thoroughly impressed by Karmel's experience, Bing became a champion of the Lamaze method. She and Karmel united to teach the method to women in New York City and formed the ASPO.

Initially, the organization's by-laws stipulated a tiered system of membership: only physicians were entitled to full membership. Psychologists, nurses, midwives, and other professionals could join as associate members and other interested lay people (primarily parents) could join as supporting members. The group consisted of an organizing committee and six standing committees: nominating, membership, public relations, scientific study, education, and fund raising. In 1965 new by-laws were written that redefined membership criteria, creating three divisions of full membership: physicians, teachers, and parents. These three divisions worked together to further the organization's mission: developing and promoting standards for childbirth and early parenting education and family-centered maternity care through education, advocacy and reform. The group taught the Lamaze method of childbirth which instructed mothers and their partners in psychological and physical methods to suppress pain and facilitate delivery without drugs.

In 1983, after several years of discussion among members who held that the name American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics proved cumbersome and confusing to the public, the organization formally modified its name to ASPO/Lamaze. By 1993, the group had modified its name to Lamaze International, to accommodate the chapters that had formed outside of the United States. Perhaps more than any other one individual, Elizabeth Bing promoted the Lamaze method throughout the United States and abroad. As an expert in childbirth education, she was invited to speak at hospitals and birthing centers in Central and South America, Japan, and China. In the twenty-first century, Lamaze International continues to advocate for the well-being of the mother, father, and child and encourage the parents to actively participate in the birth process. Additional information on Lamaze International's activities and mission is available on its web site.


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. Administration, board of directors, and related material, 1951-2001, n.d. (#1.1-7.10, 13FB.1m-13FB.2m, OD.1, SD.1, PD.1-PD.5, E.1)
  2. Series II. Conferences and conventions, 1967-2002 (#7.11-9.5, PD.6)
  3. Series III. Chapters, 1967-2006 (#9.6-11.10, FD.2, PD.7-PD.8)
  4. Series IV. Subject files, 1849, 1962-2002 (#11.11-12.6, FD.3, PD.9)
  5. Series V. Photographs, 1960-2000 (#PD.10-PD.39sl)
  6. Series VI. Oversized, 1966-1995, n.d. (#13FB.1m-13.FB.2m, FD.1-FD.3, OD.1, SD.1)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2000-M58, 2000-M64, 2000-M135, 2000-M112, 2000-M140, 2000-M163, 2000-M173, 2000-M186, 2000-M192, 2000-M138, 2001-M65, 2001-M151, 2002-M75, 2002-M34, 2003-M153, 2006-M43, 2006-M170, 2006-M225, 2011-M26, 2011-M156, 2006-M144

The records of Lamaze International were given to the Schlesinger Library by Elisabeth Bing, Harriet Barry, and other members of Lamaze International between 2000 and 2011.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Audio Collection of Lamaze International, 1956-2004 (T-297, Phon-33 ) and Lamaze International Moving image collection, 1956-2010 (Vt-112, MP-47, DVD-3)


Donors: Lamaze International

Accession numbers: 2000-M58, 2000-M64, 2000-M135, 2000-M112, 2000-M140, 2000-M163, 2000-M173, 2000-M186, 2000-M192, 2000-M138, 2001-M65, 2001-M151, 2002-M75, 2002-M34, 2003-M153, 2006-M43, 2006-M144, 2006-M170, 2006-M225, 2011-M26, 2011-M156

Processed by: Marilyn Morgan

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. ASPO/Lamaze Conference Newsletter, 1985, 1986, 1988
  2. ASPO Conceptions, Spring 1976, Summer 1976, Summer 1977, Spring 1978
  3. ASPO/Lamaze Coordinator's Corner, December 1984, April-May 1985, January-February 1989
  4. ASPO Focus, Spring 1974, Summer 1974, Autumn 1974, Spring 1975, Summer 1975, Autumn 1975, Spring 1976
  5. ASPO Inter-com, April 1967, August 1967, January 1968, November 1968, June 1969, November 1969, June 1969, March 1970, November 1970,
  6. ASPO News, Fall 1960, Winter 1961, Fall, Winter 1961, Spring 1962, Special July 1962, Fall 1962, Spring 1963, Fall-Winter 1963, Winter 1964, Winter 1966, Spring 1966, April 1967, November 1967, June 1968, December 1968
  7. ASPO Newsletter [Los Angeles chapter], April 1970, April 1972, July 1972, October 1972, January 1973, April 1973, August-December 1973, January 1974, August 1974, Winter 1974-1975, Spring 1975, Spring 1976, April 1977, August 1977
  8. ASPO/New York City News, July 1979, April 1980, August 1980
  9. ASPO Presentations, August-November 1972, April 1973, March 1974, January 1975,
  10. ASPO Lamaze Professional Bulletin, Fall 1976, Winter 1976, Summer 1977
  11. ASPO Review [Princeton chapter], February 1970, April 1970, November 1970
  12. Elisabeth Bing, Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth, New York: Bantam, 1977
  13. Elisabeth Bing, et al., Practical Training Course for the Psychoprophylactic Method of Childbirth, New York: ASPO, 1961
  14. Bulletin Officiel de la Société Française de Psychoprophylaxie Obstétricale, April-December, 1960, January-March 1961, April-June 1961, July-September 1961, April-June 1962, October-December 1962, January-March 1963, October-December 1965, January-March 1966, October 1979
  15. L. Chertok, Psychosomatic Methods in Painless Childbirth: History, Theory and Practice, New York: Pergamon Press, 1959
  16. Marvin S. Eiger, et al., The Complete Book of Breast Feeding, New York: Workman Publishing Company, 1972
  17. Genesis, special issue: convention report, 1979, December 1980-January 1981, August-September 1981, December 1984-January 1985, August-September 1986, October-November 1986, special conference newsletter: 1989-1990, July 1993, October 1994, April-June 1995
  18. The Journal of Perinatal Education, Washington, D.C.: ASPO/Lamaze, 1993
  19. Lamaze International full conference program, "Celebrate Birth and the Rhythms of Life," Memphis, Tennessee, 2000
  20. The Lamaze Network, January/February 1988,May-June 1988, April 1989
  21. Lamaze Parents' Magazine: Teacher's Guide, 1987, 1988, 1989
  22. Membership Matters July and October 1986, February 1987
  23. A Primer: Childbirth Preparation Classes for the Third World: Black, Chinese, Filipino, Hispanic, San Francisco: Parent Education Programs, 1981
  24. Trude Sekely, Pour Vous Future Maman, Montreal: Les Editions de l'homme, 1965

The following audio-visual materials have been removed and are or will be described separately:

  1. 763 audio cassette tapes of primarily conference proceedings and a few interviews
  2. 29 videotapes
  3. 1 motion picture
  4. 1 phonograph record

The following items have been transferred to the Women's Newsletter and Periodical Collection (Pr-4)

  1. ASPO Delivery [Nashville chapter], Winter 1980
  2. ASPO/Lamaze Newsletter [Northern Illinois chapter], March 1973, late Summer, 1986
  3. ASPO Newsletter [Philadelphia chapter], July 1969
  4. Parents Newsletter [Peninsula ASPO chapter, Newport News, Virginia], Fall and Winter 1979
  5. ASPO Professional Division Bulletin, September 1974, March 1975
  6. Caesareans/Support Education and Concern Newsletter, Winter 1979
  7. Choice Words [Center for Humane Options in the Childbirth Experience], October-November, 1978
  8. Lamaze Baby Magazine, 1994
  9. Leaven: La Leche League's Journal for Leaders, September-October 1995
  10. Mothers Manual, May- June, 1976; July-August, 1980
  11. Naissance, Fall 1977
  12. Sister Says, Summer 1999

Processing Information

Processed: June 2013

By: Marilyn Morgan with assistance from Samuel Bauer

Lamaze International. Records of Lamaze International, 1849-2006 (inclusive), 1951-2001 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elisabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Rosa Raisel Fund, the Class of 1958, and the Ardis B. James fund.

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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