Additional papers of Barbara Seaman, 1933-2008 (inclusive), 1966-2006 (bulk)
- Majority of material found within 1966-2006
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
21.06 linear feet ((50 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversized folder, 7 photograph folders, 32 audiotapes, 4 videotapes, 3 CDs, 1 DVD, 6 objects)
.04 Megabytes (1 file)
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1933, 1967-2008, n.d. (#1.1-9.9, PD.1-PD.3), includes biographical entries, curricula vitae, correspondence, financial records, divorce documents, real estate documents, wills, and family photographs. Also included is a copy of Extending Education through Camping: Report of the School Camp Experiment (1948) which has a few photographs of Seaman camping. In 1978 Seaman won the New York Women in Communication Matrix Award for books; in 1998 she was inducted into the Matrix Hall of Fame (#1.4). Seaman and Forman's divorce case went on for many years; there are many versions of divorce documents from different years, and much overlap within folders #1.10-7.6 and 8.10-9.2. Seaman's occasional inability to pay the high fees charged by her divorce attorneys and, as she saw it, their lack of attention to her case led Seaman to become involved with the Coalition for Family Justice (Series V). Also included in this series are Seaman's files on her children and family members, including an interview with Elana Seaman as the daughter of feminist (#8.1). The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1962-2007, n.d. (#9.10-22.8, PD.4-PD.5), includes letters, notes, and cards with family, friends, and colleagues. The letters cover all aspects of Seaman's life including marriage, motherhood, feminism, domestic abuse, teaching, lecturing, and writing. Correspondents includes other well known feminists Gloria Steinem (#20.24), Shere Hite (#15.4-15.5), Mary Jean Tully (#21.9), Ti-Grace Atkinson (#11.2 and 16.17), Byllye Avery (#11.3), Judy Norsigian (#18.22), Audrey Flack (#13.15-13.16), and Alice Wolfson (#22.1). Topics include the Ms. "Women of the Year Breakfast" in 2001 (#20.24), Veteran Feminists of America (#18.22), and Tully's leaving the New York Women's Forum due to its ties to the International Women's Forum (#21.9). Seaman tried to help promote Hite's book Women and Love, as Hite was facing criticism in the US for The Hite Report (#15.5). Audrey Flack, a sculptor famous for her photo-realist art was a long-time Seaman friend. She hosted the book party for the 25th anniversary edition of The Doctor's Case Against the Pill (#13.16). Alice Wolfson is a women's health advocate who played a crucial role in securing patient package information inserts with Seaman (#22.1). Also included is correspondence regarding Seaman's appearance with Barbara Walters and Dr. Martin Stone on the Today Show in 1972. During the show, Seaman began calling Dr. Stone by his first name; this caused a flurry of viewer mail to the Today Show. Seaman was friends with many other writers such as Darius James (#16.4), Sandor Katz (#16.13), and Jon Salem (#19.32) and received manuscripts and book proposals from them which are included in their correspondence. Also of note are the pamphlets The Little Prick: A Feminist Views and Exposes the Man and His Attitudes by Zizi (#11.35). The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series III, WRITING AND RESEARCH, 1937-2007, n.d. (#22.9-38.2, OD.1, PD.6-PD.7, E.1), includes materials, drafts, reader mail, research, and publicity from Seaman's books, articles, and other writing. Included throughout is Seaman's correspondence with her various agents and editors. The series is arranged in six subseries.
Subseries A, The Doctor's Case Against the Pill, 1969-2005 (#22.9-23.9, OD.1, PD.6), includes drafts from the third edition (1980), correspondence, publicity, reviews, material from the 25th anniversary edition (1994), and reader mail re: The Doctor's Case Against the Pill. The book detailed the possible life-threatening side effects of the powerful birth control pills; side effects which were not being disclosed to the women who took the pills every day, often for years. When the 1994 edition was published, Dr. Carl Levinson wrote a review in the Journal of American Medical Association which Seaman called the worst review she ever received. It was discovered that Levinson had ties to pharmaceutical companies, and thus had a conflict of interest in writing a review of The Doctor's Case Against the Pill. It took almost four years for the journal to publish the letters to the editor from Seaman and others rebutting his review. In 1999 the editor of the Journal of American Medical Association was fired (#22.13-23.3). Also included is an unused foreword written by Phil Corfman. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth, 1999-2007 (#23.10-26.3), includes drafts, notes, research, correspondence, publicity, and reviews. In The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Seaman investigated the practice of giving menopausal women estrogen treatments for everything from hot flashes to cancer prevention. One popular estrogen on the market was Premarin, derived from the urine of pregnant mares. Seaman had first hand knowledge of what long-term Premarin use could cause; her paternal aunt had died from endometrial cancer in 1959 (#23.11). The chapter drafts include emails from others with edits, research, and suggestions for the final versions (#25.8-25.10). Seaman's editor rejected the chapter, "Keep Your Pee Away from Me," in which Seaman discusses the investigation by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of how Premarin mares and foals were being treated. Seaman dedicated the chapter to Gloria Steinem; Steinem had suggested the topic for Seaman's book (#26.3). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann, 1937-2006, n.d. (#26.4-31.5, PD.7), includes correspondence, publicity and reviews, interviews, research, and reader mail about Seaman's biography and re: the resulting made-for-TV movie Scandalous Me. Seaman first focused her research on Susann's breast cancer, but quickly realized that she would have to widen her view to encompass more of Susann's life. The book took Seaman six years to write. Correspondence includes Seaman's disagreement with Michael Korda articles and the resulting movie about Susann, Isn't She Great, by Paul Rudnick which Seaman felt too closely resembled her biography; Seaman's dispute with Irving Mansfield, Susann's husband, who was writing his own book about Susann's life is also documented (#26.10). Also included is correspondence re: and an annotated script of the play Paper Doll (#28.13-28.15) which used material from Isn't She Great (#28.8-28.9) and Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann. One of the authors of Paper Doll, Barbara Zitwer, had represented Seaman in marketing Lovely Me (#28.13). Of note are the interviews of Susann's friends and acquaintances conducted by Seaman regarding Susann's life before and after her best-selling novel was published. (#27.1-28.2). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries D, Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormones, 1975-1993, n.d. (#31.6-32.1), includes drafts, correspondence, publicity, reviews, and reader mail re: Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormones. Seaman coauthored this book with Gideon Seaman, her second husband. The book included chapters on oral contraceptive side effects, natural menopause remedies, and DES side effects such as sterilization and vaginal cancer. After its publication in 1977 the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare convened a government task force (on which Seaman then served) on DES (diethylstilbestrol), a synthetic estrogen which caused cancer in the daughters of women given it by their doctors to prevent miscarriages. Also included are interviews Seaman conducted in 1982 with Pat Cody and Phyllis Wetherhill in order to learn up-to-date DES information for a Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormonesreprint (1982). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries E, Other writing, 1961-2007, n.d. (#32.2-35.21, E.1), includes articles, book reviews, book proposals, drafts, rejection letters, publicity, and other written works by Seaman. Seaman wrote articles in Bride's Magazine with her second husband, Gideon Seaman. "Understanding Your Marriage. Why Opposites Attract" was the first in the series (#32.3). Also included are anonymous interview questions that Seaman conducted in 1973 with parents (#35.12). Most of the questions for both sexes were the same; although the mothers were asked "What are your sexual experiences including rape, pregnancies, and abortions?" and the fathers were asked "How did pregnancy and children, as infants, affect your sex life with your wife?" Many readers of Hadassah wrote to Seaman re: her articles. They told her about their experiences with estrogen, hormone replacement therapy, and also occasionally disagreed with her (#33.1-33.2). The subseries is arranged alphabetically, with similar types of writing grouped together.
Subseries F, Research, 1968-2007, n.d. (#35.22-38.2), includes notes, correspondence, articles, memoranda, and interviews all relating to Seaman's writing. Primarily the material is about women's health issues. Some material was never used, such as her research for a canceled Shirley Maclaine biography (#36.18). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, EVENTS AND SPEECHES, 1965-2008, n.d. (#38.3-43.10), includes memoranda, press releases, correspondence, speeches, testimonies, and programs. The testimonies category also includes depositions. Testimony folders may include drafts, published testimonies, and/or notes (#42.4-43.4). Also included are transcripts from the 1970 Congressional hearings on oral contraception, called the "Nelson pill hearings" (#42.5-42.6). After reading The Doctor's Case Against the Pill, US Senator Gaylord Nelson held hearings in the Senate to investigate problems with oral contraception that Seaman highlighted in her book. Seaman and Alice Wolfson attended the hearings, and protested loudly that there were no women being questioned during the hearing. The hearings resulted in a requirement that oral contraceptives packages include information about potential risks to a woman's health. Folders in this series are arranged alphabetically by Seaman's original categories.
Series V, ORGANIZATIONS, 1960-2008, n.d. (#43.11-50.6), includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, and press releases from organizations with which Seaman was involved. Many issues and groups overlap within the different organizations represented in this series, including DES (diethylstilbestrol) Action, an international organization that publicizes the need for medical monitoring of children born to DES mothers and grandmothers. Domestic violence issues, such as how to document the abuse, finding a safe place to live, child neglect, and constantly feeling threatened are addressed by many of the organizations. Seaman herself experienced domestic violence in her third marriage. The series is arranged in three subseries.
Subseries A, Coalition for Family Justice, 1978-2007, n.d. (#43.11-44.9), includes member lists, memoranda, reports, board minutes, correspondence, and questionnaires. The Coalition for Family Justice (CFJ) was formed in 1988 to educate women about their right to equal protection under the law during divorce proceedings. Coalition members went with clients to court appearances, meetings with attorneys, and conferences with child protective service agencies. Seaman's occasional inability to pay the high fees charged by her divorce attorneys and, as she saw it, their lack of attention to her case led her to become involved with the Coalition for Family Justice during her divorce from Milton Forman (1986-1990). In 1991 CFJ helped initiate the Committee to Examine Lawyer Conduct in Matrimonial Actions, the public hearings to examine lawyer misconduct in divorce cases (#43.11, See also Series I). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, National Women's Health Network, 1972-2007, n.d. (#44.10-46.9), includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, and press releases. The National Women's Health Network (NWHN) was formed in 1974 by Seaman and Belita Cowan who felt that a long-standing lobby effort was needed for the women's health movement to successfully influence federal health policy. They also wanted to create a source of accurate, unbiased information on women's health issues. Memoranda and reports include updates to the board on Food and Drug Administration rulings; lists of highlights the NWHN had accomplished that year, such as initiating a breast cancer campaign for screening clinics; and executive director reports (#45.11). In the 1980's Seaman arranged for the NWHN to sell her books in their various clinics around the country at a discount to their patients (#45.11). Also included is the NWHN's tamoxifen prevention trial packet. Tamoxifen is a synthetic hormone used to treat breast cancer in post-menopausal women. NWHN objected to the trial due to tamoxifen's increased risk of other types of cancer (#46.6). The packet includes information on the study, journal articles, and press releases. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Other organizations, 1960-2008, n.d. (#46.10-50.6), includes correspondence, reports, memoranda, press releases, and interviews. Seaman was involved with the small pro-choice group Communication Consultants for Choice (CCC) (#47.2-47.7), which worked with many other organizations such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood to provide public information on abortion rights. In 1985 CCC and NARAL released the television program Speak Out for Choice: A Training Tool. Pro-choice advocates practiced public speaking and were coached on body language, vocabulary, and dealing with rudeness and interruptions. Seaman narrates the program, which also includes Muriel Fox, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and Shepard Aronson (#Vt-242.1 - Vt-242.3, T-468.1). DES Action was founded in 1977 to educate women and health care professionals on the effects of the estrogen DES (diethylstilbestrol) (#47.9-47.13). Families Against Sexually Abusive Therapists (FAST) was created by Seaman, Phyllis Fine, Barbara Shea, and Margaret Thompson, who had bonded together over the fact that their husbands, all licensed therapists, were having affairs with their patients (#47.14-48.5). FAST's goal was to support the families of such therapists. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Series VI, BARBARA HOWELL, 1956-2006, n.d. (#50.7-51.5), includes a travel diary, correspondence, writing by Howell, articles by and about Howell, and horoscopes. Howell and Seaman were close friends, although it is unclear why this material was included with Seaman's papers. After losing her advertising job in 1973, Howell published her first book, Don't Bother to Come in on Monday, which dealt with how to survive after being fired. Howell later wrote fiction, including A Mere Formality, Balancing Act, Joyride, and The Orgasm Sellers. Howell traveled many times to Russia with her second husband Alan Woltz, where she began partnering English writers with Russian publishers to release Russian editions of their books. Correspondents include author Iris Murdoch. In 1981 Howell sent Murdoch (whom Howell had never met) a copy of her manuscript, A Mere Formality, asking for her thoughts and possibly quotes for publicity. Murdoch replied that she would have said no, had she not received the manuscript before Howell's letter. Instead Murdoch read the manuscript, and recommended the book to an English publisher for Howell. The two women became friends, and wrote back and forth over several years, often commenting on each other's work (#50.11). Also included is a lengthy letter to Seaman from Howell during a trip to Russia in 1990 (#51.3). Howell describes the everyday life of Russians whom she meets, the experiences of tourists visiting the area in 1990, and what the people Howell met thought of the government. Also of note is Howell's travel diary from her trips to Nova Scotia, England, Ireland, France, and Italy. Howell describes the weather, accommodations, meals, the local scenery, sightseeing, and the political climate and events, especially in Ireland (#51.2). Series is arranged alphabetically.
Series VII, AUDIOVISUAL, OVERSIZED, AND MEMORABILIA, 1962-2007, n.d. (#CD-61.1 - CD.61.3, DVD-76.1, T-468.1 - T-468.32, Vt-242.1 - Vt-242.4, F+D.1, Mem.1-Mem.6), includes audiotapes, videotapes, one DVD, one CD, t-shirts, and other memorabilia. The series is arranged in two subseries by format.
Subseries A, Audiovisual, 1962-2007, n.d. (#CD-61.1 - CD.61.3, DVD-76.1, T-468.1 - T-468.32, Vt-242.1 - Vt-242.4), includes interviews, radio programs, documentary, and pro-choice television programs on which Seaman appeared or narrated. The subseries is arranged by format, and chronologically thereafter.
Subseries B, Oversized and memorabilia, 1981-2004, n.d. (#F+D.1, Mem.1-Mem.6), includes oversized material and memorabilia removed from throughout the collection. Included is an "In Memoriam Self-Help Gynecology Kit" in honor of Dido Hasper, founder of four Feminist Women's Health Centers and former president of the Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers. Pieces of the kit are listed and stored separately. The memorabilia is arranged chronologically.
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 [*].
During the early 1960s, Barbara and Gideon wrote a column on marriage for Bride's Magazine; a later column entitled "Your Mind, Your Heart" was syndicated through the Bell-McClure newspaper network (1970-1971). In 1967, Seaman won a Sloan-Rockefeller Science Writing Fellowship at the Columbia University Journalism School. While there she began her first book, The Doctors' Case Against the Pill (1969). The book detailed the possible life-threatening side effects of powerful birth control pills; side effects which were not being disclosed to the women who took the pills every day, often for years. In 1970 Seaman was recognized by the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) for her part in seeing that appropriate written warnings to patients accompanied each prescription for a birth control pill. In 1972 Seaman published her second book, Free and Female: The Sex Life of the Contemporary Woman. Reviews called it the first book to report on women's sexual needs from a feminist point of view. After publication Seaman was cited by the Library of Congress as the author who raised sexism in health care to worldwide prominence. Her third book, Women and the Crisis In Sex Hormones (1977), coauthored with Gideon Seaman, persuaded the Secretary of HEW to convene a government task force (on which Seaman then served) on DES (diethylstilbestrol), a synthetic estrogen which caused cancer in the daughters of women given it by their doctors to prevent miscarriages. New York Women in Communications, Inc., awarded her their Matrix award for books in 1978.
In 1982, Barbara and Gideon Seaman divorced, and Barbara married Milton Forman, president of Toltec Fabrics, Inc. Their marriage ended in a lengthy, painful divorce in 1990. In the early 1980's Seaman turned her attention to Jacqueline Susann, the author of Valley of the Dolls. Seaman was drawn to Susann when she learned that the actress did not acquire the discipline to write her novel until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Seaman's biography Lovely Me, The Life of Jacqueline Susann, (1987) was made into a TV movie, Scandalous Me: The Jacqueline Susann Story, (1998). In 1995, The Doctors' Case Against the Pill was reissued in a 25th anniversary edition. In a cover story, Science Magazine named it as the book that fueled women's health activism, patient information, and a "blossoming of women's health research." In 2003 Seaman published The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth which investigated the practice of giving menopausal women synthetic estrogen treatments for everything from hot flashes to cancer prevention. One popular estrogen was Premarin, derived from the urine of pregnant mares. Seaman had first hand knowledge of what long-term Premarin use could cause; her paternal aunt, Sally Rosner, had died from endometrial cancer in 1959; Rosner's doctor had prescribed Premarin.
A co-founder of the National Women's Health Network, Seaman served on the boards and advisory committees of a number of organizations, including the New York Women's Forum, Feminist Press, DES Action, Older Women's Health Project of New York University's Medical Center, Abortion Rights Mobilization, and Women's Health Newsletter. She was also a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Association of Science Writers, PEN, and Women's Ink.
Barbara Seaman became good friends with another feminist author, Barbara Howell. After losing her advertising job in 1973, Howell published her first book, Don't Bother to Come in on Monday, which dealt with how to survive after being fired. Howell later wrote fiction, including A Mere Formality, Balancing Act, Joyride, and The Orgasm Sellers.
Barbara Seaman died of lung cancer on February 27, 2008. In 2009 the National Women's Health Network launched the Barbara Seaman Award for Activism in Women's Health to honor her life's work: "The award recognizes work that exemplifies the spirit and approach of Barbara, including her unwavering insistence on listening to women, her dogged determination to see abuses corrected and her bridge building between generations."
- Series I. Biographical and personal, 1933, 1967-2008, n.d. (#1.1-9.9, PD.1-PD.3)
- Series II. Correspondence, 1962-2007, n.d. (#9.10-22.8, PD.4-PD.5)
- Series III. Writings and research, 1937-2007, n.d. (#22.9-38.2, OD.1, PD.6-PD.7, E.1)
- Series IV. Events and speeches, 1965-2008, n.d. (#38.3-43.10)
- Series V. Organizations, 1960-2008, n.d. (#43.11-50.6)
- Series VI. Barbara Howell, 1956-2006, n.d. (#50.7-51.5)
- Series VII. Audiovisual, oversized, and memorabilia, 1962-2007, n.d. (#CD-61.1 - CD.61.3, DVD-76.1, T-468.1 - T-468.32, Vt-242.1 - Vt-242.4, F+D.1, Mem.1-Mem.6)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The additional papers of Barbara Seaman were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Barbara Seaman between 1991 and 2007 and from her children in 2008 and 2009.
Accession numbers:91-M149, 93-M20, 93-M140, 98-M6, 99-M41, 2006-M204, 2007-M18, 2007-M40, 2008-M2, 2009-M56
Processed by: Cat Lea Holbrook
The following books and issues of periodicals have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Books and Printed Materials Division pending review by the curator:
- Balancing Act, by Barbara Howell
- Canadian Woman Studies, 1994
- The DES Action Voice, 1985, 1994, 1996, 2005
- Female Forum, from the editors of Penthouse Forum
- Fit to Live, by Pamela Peeke
- For Women Only, by Barbara Seaman and Gary Null
- Grandmothers, Mothers, and Daughters, by Corinne Azen Krause
- The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth, by Barbara Seaman
- A Gynecologist's Second Opinion, by William Parker
- Haven, by Ruth Gruber
- Healthsharing Women, 1995
- Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America, by Karena Gore Schiff
- Lilith's Rib, 1974-1975
- National Council on Women's Health, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
- National Women's Health Network, 1978
- The Pill: a Biography of the Drug that Changed the World, by Bernard Asbell
- Orgasm Sellers, by Barbara Howell
- Refugees and Reproductive Health Care: The Next Step
- The Science of Orgasm, by Barry Komisaruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores, and Beverly Whipple
- Second Opinion, 1982
- Vaccination: The Issue of Our Time, edited by Peggy O'Mara
- Vietnamese Women in the Eighties
- Vital Signs, 1996
- Women's Health Care: A Guide to Alternatives, edited by Kay Weiss
- Breast Cancer Action, 1997, 2000
- Contraception Technology Update, 1985
- A Friend Indeed: For Women in the Prime of Life, 1995
- The Minnesota Women's Press, 2001
- National Council on Women in Medicine, 1989, 1992
- Options, 1985
- Toronto Women' s Health Network, 1995
- Women's Forum, Inc., 1988
- The Woman's Reporter, 1986
- Women's Health Advocate Newsletter, 1995
- Women's Health, 2006
- Women's League Outlook, 1969
By: Cat Lea Holbrook with assistance from Camille Torres.
- Authors, American
- Birth control--United States
- Compact discs
- DVD-Video discs
- Divorce--United States
- Drafts (documents)
- Drugs--Labeling--Law and legislation
- Equal rights amendments--United States
- Estrogen--Therapeutic use
- Family violence--United States
- Feminism--United States
- Feminists--United States
- Fertility, Human
- Finance, Personal
- Health education--United States
- Hormone therapy
- Hormones, Sex
- Jewish women--United States
- Journalists--United States
- Manuscripts for publication
- Marriage--United States
- Medical care--United States
- Mothers and daughters--United States
- Oral contraceptives--United States
- Patient advocacy--United States
- Patient education
- Publishers and publishing
- Reproductive health
- Seaman, Barbara. Doctor's case against the pill
- Seaman, Barbara. Free and female
- Seaman, Barbara. Greatest experiment ever performed on women
- Seaman, Barbara. Lovely me
- Seaman, Barbara. Women and the crisis in sex hormones
- Second-wave feminism--United States
- Voyages and travels
- Women's health services--United States
- Women--Health and hygiene--United States
- Women--Social networks
- Seaman, Barbara. Additional papers of Barbara Seaman, 1933-2008 (inclusive), 1966-2006 (bulk): A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Steiner Book and Manuscript Fund and the Zetlin Sisters Fund.
- EAD ID
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