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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 964

Records of the Project on Women and Disability, 1975-2000 (inclusive), 1987-1997 (bulk)


Minutes, reports, correspondence, grant proposals, photographs, and memorabilia related to the Project on Women and Disability.


  • 1975-2000
  • Majority of material found within 1987-1997

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Project on Women and Disability 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.


5.96 linear feet ((12 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 1 folio+ folder, 2 photograph folders, 1 object)
.48591 Megabytes (4 files)

The records of the Project on Women and Disability document the organization's founding and structure, as well as the organization's effort to educate women with disabilities to demand their right to become equal and integrated members of their community. Records include correspondence, by-laws, grant applications and reports, proposals, memoranda, financial records, questionnaires, board and committee meeting minutes and agendas, photographs, membership applications, a t-shirt, and a banner. This material was generated by the various board and staff members of the Project. Board meeting files can include minutes, committee and director reports, budgets, and memoranda.

The records in this collection highlight the Project's efforts in creating resources for women with disabilities, including advocacy groups, a quarterly newsletter, and training workshops. This collection also contains records related to projects supported by the organization, including "Project C.A.R.E." (Community Access, Resources, and Education for Disabled Women and Their Babies); "Fierce with Reality: A Conference for Women with Disabilities, Deaf Women, Women with Chronic Illness"; its "Reproductive Rights Campaign for Women with Disabilities"; and "Partners in Quality Medical Care: A Project to Empower Women with Disabilities and Educate Medical Providers" (PQMC). This collection also contains material related to the Project on Women and Disability's involvement with Community Works during the 1990s.

These records do not contain any Board of Director minutes or reports between 1996 and 1997; there are a few records from 1998. This collection does not include material related to the end of the Project on Women and Disability. Material related to the Project on Women and Disability can also be found in the Records of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective.

Photographs include images from the 1995 "Fierce with Reality" conference (#PD.2), and a photograph of long-time board member Connie Panzarino (#PD.1). Memorabilia includes a Women and Disability banner, and a Disabled Female and Proud t-shirt. Some past issues of the Project on Women and Disability's newsletters are available at the Schlesinger Library; consult HOLLIS, the online catalog.

Electronic records were received on 12 3.5" disks. Data on one of the 3.5" disks was unrecoverable. The disks were imaged using FTK Imager and Duke Data Accessioner. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery. Original folder headings were maintained; titles in brackets were created by the archivist. The majority of the records were received in folders; loose material was arranged by the archivist. This collection is arranged alphabetically.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


The Project on Women and Disability, founded in 1987 by Marsha Saxton, began as a project of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, intended to bridge a gap between the women's community and the disability rights movement in Boston, Massachusetts. As stated in their 1995 membership directory, the Project's mission was "to eliminate sexism and disability bias, and to empower women with disabilities as equal and active partners in addressing the issues facing disabled women."

The Project offered leadership training and resources for women interested in disability issues, including applying the Americans Disabilities Act to the workplace, the impact of genetic technologies, how employers could integrate disabled workers into their organizations, how to treat disabled customers or clients respectfully, and how to create workable liaisons with organizations for people with disabilities. The Project on Women and Disability also created programs and events that addressed the needs of women with disabilities, such as its "Fierce with Reality: a conference for Women with Disabilities, Deaf Women, and Women with Chronic Illness" held on October 9, 1995. The conference featured a keynote speaker, panel discussions, and workshops; all of the presenters and most of the participants were women with disabilities.

The Project also focused on achieving reproductive rights for women with disabilities through its "Project C.A.R.E." (Community Access, Resources, and Education for Disabled Women and their Babies), which sought to improve the quality of health care for disabled mothers and pregnant women in the greater Boston area. As part of "Project C.A.R.E.," the group released a "Self-Advocacy Guide," which was intended to help women with disabilities navigate pregnancy and giving birth.

The Project on Women and Disability was managed by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective until 1989, when the project joined forces with the Massachusetts Health Research Institute, Inc. In 1992, the Project became an independent non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. The Project on Women and Disability received most of its funding from grants and donations from organizations such as Polaroid, the Boston Foundation, the Boston Women's Fund, the Haymarket People's Fund, and the Globe Foundation.

The Project on Women and Disability was overseen by a board of directors. Board members served on various committees, including the benefits committee, the conference committee, the education and training committee, the fundraising committee, the housing committee, the medical advocacy committee, the reproductive rights campaign committee, and on the Project's journal, WILDA: A Journal for Women in Leadership / Disability Activists.

The Project had one full-time staff member, one part-time staff member, work-study students, and volunteers, most of whom were women with disabilities. Marsha Saxton served as executive director from 1987 until 1994. A few months later, Saxton became the special projects coordinator for medical advocacy and reproductive technologies. Cindy Blank-Edelman served as community coordinator between 1992 and 1994; she became interim director in 1994 after Saxton stepped down. In 1995, the Board of Directors named Blank-Edelman executive director. Between 1987 and 1997, the Massachusetts Office on Disability provided work space for the Project. In 1997, the Project on Women and Disability's office moved to Newton, Massachusetts.

Due to a lack of consistent funding, in 1994 the Project on Women and Disability joined the non-profit federation, Community Works, which provided financial support for charitable and educational organizations through payroll deduction fundraising campaigns in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. In 1996, the Project proposed to re-join the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. The Project on Women and Disability ended in the late 1990s.

For more information see: 1995 Membership Directory (#10.12).

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2010-M141

These records of the Project on Women and Disability were given to the Schlesinger Library by Judy Norsigian in August 2010.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Boston Women's Health Book Collective Records, 1905-2003 (MC 503).

Processing Information

Processed: January 2019

By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Ashley Thomas.

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.

Project on Women and Disability. Records of the Project on Women and Disability, 1975-2000 (inclusive), 1987-1997 (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 Zetlin Sisters Fund and the Jane Rainie Opel '50 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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