|Visit the fundraising page to lend a hand|
I’ve got to come clean about what initially drew me to examine the papers in one folder in particular, which came from the Planned Parenthood of Maryland collection. Three words jumped out from the page of a typewritten, mimeographed promotional flyer: “WAY OUT SEX!!”.
Well, that's an attention-getter.
|Planned Parenthood of Maryland, reaching out to the community in 1971|
There were other items tucked in the portfolio, and all were just as controversial, if not jaw-droppingly so, including a stash of written evaluations of the workshop in question. The guests polled were all over the place in terms of their critiques. Some attendees thought the topic itself-- human sexuality-- was vulgar, some thought the presenters were biased, or used medical terminology that flew over the heads of its audience. A few guests were pleased that Planned Parenthood was educating the community on what, at that time, was was a subject that was kept under wraps. Conversely, there were many folks who expressed gratitude, because they learned something new about their own behavior, bodies, and health.
There was also correspondence between workshop organizers and lecturers. Most of these letters contained the usual logistical back-and-forth that goes with organizing an event. But one missive really took me by surprise: it was from a Baltimore psychiatrist who was asked to give a presentation. He declined the invite, citing his belief that women of a lower socioeconomic background had no use for lectures on sexuality and reproduction..
It was all there, many different viewpoints, many voices from long ago heard once more, reflecting the complex, contrasting ideas and attitudes that have shaped the modern history of reproductive health. All of these in an archival box in Special Collections.
|Vintage birds-and-the-bees literature from Planned Parenthood of Maryland collection|
Aiden Faust, Head of Special Collections, is working with Carole McCann, Chair of Gender + Women’s Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County. Dr. McCann is the Planned Parenthood of Maryland historian and project director for this initiative. The goal is to have the collection--a century's worth of historical records--fully processed and accessible, and to create a traveling anniversary exhibit for display at Planned Parenthood's Baltimore headquarters and clinics throughout Maryland. To meet the overall project goal of $20,000, the library must raise $5,000.