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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 993

Records of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, 1971-1999


Minutes, correspondence, flyers, financial material, etc., of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, New England's first rape crisis center.


  • 1971-1999

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 Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, as well as 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.


1.04 linear feet ((3 file boxes, 1 half file box) plus 1 folio+ folder)

The records of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center include minutes, correspondence, flyers, financial information, etc. Minutes document early discussions by members of Women Against Rape, many of whom were rape survivors, who met from November 1972 until February 1973 to discuss compiling information regarding rape prevention, referrals for medical and psychiatric care, legal issues, and the formation of support groups for survivors of rape. A press release in late March 1973 announced the establishment of the Center and provided an emergency aid telephone number. Following the establishment of the Center minutes reflect a focus on fund raising for the center; establishment of support groups; improvement of telephone and individual counseling text and techniques; scheduling for transportation of survivors, support groups, telephone counseling, accompanying survivors to court, etc.; assigning staff/volunteers for speaking engagements; creation of flyers, informational pamphlets, and instruction manuals; discussion of pregnancy and abortion counseling; efforts at getting publicity for the Center; etc. Early meetings were weekly, general meetings in which all staff/volunteers were involved, but within the first year of the Center's founding, the minutes reflect that topic meetings (e.g. publicity, counseling, medical issues, legal issues, etc.) were interspersed with general meetings.

Correspondence documents requests for the Center to present at workshops, conferences, police training sessions, and health fairs; requests for employment and volunteer opportunities; request for data for research papers; and donations. One letter from a rape survivor describing her experience is present (#1.2). Most flyers and pamphlets document the Center and provide medical and legal information, advertise their services, serve as notices for events and celebrations, or warn the public of dangerous rapists who have not yet been apprehended. Financial material documents income and expenditures and provides evidence of the meager budget with which they had to work to provide services. Folder titles were created by the archivist. Folders are arranged alphabetically.


The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center began as a group of Boston-area women organized as Women Against Rape. Many of these women were, themselves, rape survivors. Their first meeting was held on November 7, 1972, at the Cambridge Women's Center, and they met weekly to gather information regarding rape prevention, referral for medical and psychiatric care, legal issues, and the formation of support groups. In early meetings it was decided that the group would hold general meetings less often interspersed with subject meetings on topics such as publicity, counseling, and medical issues. By late February 1973 they had prepared a press release announcing the opening of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center on March 1, 1973, and provided an emergency aid telephone number (492-RAPE). The press release also promised that the Center would provide "detailed medical, legal, and psychological information and referrals...emergency transportation for rape victims and...accompany [individuals] to hospitals and police stations, [as well as to arrange] discussion groups and self-defense classes [for interested individuals]." In its early years the Center was run by volunteers and part-time staff, who answered the hotline, counseled survivors, led support groups, and provided transportation. The Center operated out of a room in the Cambridge Women's Center in its early years. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center temporarily closed between October 9, 1979 and January 2, 1980 in order to reassess their position and goals and to strengthen their resources.

As of 2019, the center has two offices, one in Boston, Massachusetts, and the other in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and employs over 50 staff members and has over 200 volunteers. It is considered the second oldest rape crisis center in the country and the oldest in New England.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2019-M70

The records of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Cambridge Women's Center in April 2019.


Donors: Cambridge Women's Center

Accession number: 2019-M70

Processed by: Mark Vassar

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Printed Materials Division:

  1. Boston Area Rape Crisis Center [Newsletter], 1975

Processing Information

Processed: May 2019

By: Mark Vassar.

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.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Schlesinger Library General Gift Fund, the Elsie Rodd Fund in the Schlesinger Library, and the Ellen Sears Minot 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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