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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 994: T-565

Records of the Cambridge Women's Center, 1938-1997 (inclusive), 1970-1990 (bulk)


Administrative and subject files, primarily about women's issues and events, of Cambridge Women's Center.


  • Creation: 1938-1997
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1990

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 Cambridge Women's Center is held by the Cambridge Women's Center as long as it is in existence. Should the Center cease to exist, copyright will transfer to 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.


6.67 linear feet ((16 file boxes) plus 3 folio folders, 9 folio+ folders, 1 audiotape)

These records of the Cambridge Women's Center include administrative files, correspondence, and subject files on topics relating to women, gender, sexuality, health, and feminism. The collection documents the outreach and organizing work of the Cambridge Women's Center, and provides a snapshot of local feminist organizing efforts in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, primarily in the 1970s and 1990s. The collection is arranged in two series. The first holds administrative documents and the second consists of the Women's Center vertical file, or subject filing cabinets. Original folder titles have been maintained; additional information or titles created by the archivist are in brackets.

Series I, ADMINISTRATIVE AND PROGRAM FILES, 1970-1997 (#1.1-2.8, F+D.1, T-565.1), includes files on yearly events celebrated by the Cambridge Women's Center, primarily International Women's Day celebration and Take Back the Night marches. One folder includes drawings by Rachel Burger, a founder of Transition House. Several folders document the use of the Women's Center's library and archives. Most of the archival collections once held by the Cambridge Women's Center, primarily those of affiliate organizations, are now held by the Schlesinger Library or the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections. Files are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

Series II, SUBJECT FILES, 1938-1997 (#3.1-16.13, FD.1-FD.3, F+D.2-F+D.9), includes clippings (from newspapers, alternative press, magazines), fliers, pamphlets, brochures, notes, etc., on subjects of interest to Cambridge Women's Center users. Most subjects are related to women's health and reproductive topics, violence against women, and gender equality. Files dating from the 1970s may contain articles on contemporary women's issues and information (brochures, fliers, etc.) relating to other Boston area women's groups and organizations. A number of files dating from the 1980s and 1990s are those of Peggy Lynch, a nurse who researched and advocated for lesbians in the health care system.


The Cambridge Women's Center was founded in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1970, a group of women from the socialist feminist group Bread and Roses began searching for a women's community center. In March 1971, they occupied a Harvard University-owned building on Memorial Drive, but were eventually forced to leave. Community donations allowed the group to buy a house in Cambridge at 46 Pleasant Street; the Center opened there in January 1972. In 1974, the Center incorporated as the Women's Educational Center, it is currently known as the Cambridge Women's Center. The Women's Center, staffed by volunteers, provided referrals for services, housed a library with reference files, and provided safe space for women to meet. Several smaller organizations were begun in or housed within the Women's Center in the 1970s, including the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Transition House, a domestic violence shelter. The Cambridge Women's Center continues to operate as a safe space for women, and provides educational, employment, and crisis support for women.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Administrative and program files, 1970-1997 (#1.1-2.8, F+D.1, T-565.1)
  2. Series II. Subject files, 1938-1997 (#3.1-16.13, FD.1-FD.3, F+D.2-F+D.9)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2019-M71

These records of the Cambridge Women's Center were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Cambridge Women's Center in April 2019.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Records of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (MC 993) and Records of Transition House (84-M18--91-M187).

There is related material at Northeastern University Library: Records of the Women's Educational Center (M047).

Processing Information

Processed: December 2019

By: Jenny Gotwals, with assistance from Sarah DeRupo and Molly Kirkpatrick.

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.

Some issues of periodicals were removed and cataloged separately with information about their provenance.

Women's Educational Center. Records of the Cambridge Women's Center, 1938-1997 (inclusive), 1970-1990 (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 the Alice Jeanette Ward 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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