Papers of Ruth Proskauer Smith, 1959-1975
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
2.63 linear feet ((2 cartons, 1+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder)
The professional correspondence traces Ruth Proskauer Smith's involvement in a number of abortion rights organizations, from the Human Betterment Association for Voluntary Sterilization to the beginnings of what were to become the National Abortion Rights Action League and the Abortion Rights Association. Two folders of correspondence and minutes from NARAL (#7 and 8) are restricted in accordance with the agreement between the Schlesinger Library and NARAL; #21, 22, 42, 49, and 50, which contain lists of contributors, are closed until January 1, 2028. Most extensive is the documentation of the growth of ARANY, which in 1971 and 1972 conducted surveys of abortion services for its "Listing of Selected New York State Abortion Clinics."
Folder headings are the donor's. Information in brackets has been added by the processor.
Ruth Proskauer Smith began her involvement in the family planning and abortion rights movement as a field worker for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (1946-1948). She served there as executive secretary (1949-1953) until she moved to New York and became administrator of the family planning service at Mount Sinai Hospital (1953-1955). She served as executive director of the Human Betterment Association for Voluntary Sterilization (1955-1964) and of the Association for the Study of Abortion (1964-1966). In 1967 she helped organize the National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (now the National Abortion Rights Action League or NARAL) and worked for the liberalization of abortion laws in New York State, first with New Yorkers for Abortion Law Repeal and then with the Committee for the Cook-Leichter Bill, a bill that declared abortion a matter to be decided by a woman and her physician and that was enacted in 1970. Later in 1970 the Abortion Rights Association of New York (ARANY) was established to help implement the law by disseminating information about its requirements and the rights and obligations of women and of physicians; Ruth Proskauer Smith served as president and vice-president. Following the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, the organization was renamed the Abortion Rights Association.
Ruth Proskauer Smith was also a board member and officer of the Euthanasia Society of America and the Society for the Right to Die. The author of a number of articles on abortion and family planning, she was frequently a representative at conferences in the United States and abroad.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of Ruth Proskauer Smith were given to the Schlesinger Library by Ruth Proskauer Smith in October and November 1977.
- Carton 1: 2-45
- Carton 2: 46-68
- Box 3: 69-78
- Box 4: 79-82
By: Anne Engelhart
- Abortion services
- Abortion--Great Britain
- Abortion--Law and legislation
- Abortion--New York (State)
- Birth control
- Great Britain--Social conditions
- Jews--United States
- National Abortion Rights Action League
- New York (State)--Social conditions
- Sterilization (Birth control)
- Smith, Ruth Proskauer, 1907-2010. Papers of Ruth Proskauer Smith, 1959-1975: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
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