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Guide to the WHAM! (Women's Health Action and Mobilization) Records TAM.162

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Tamiment staff

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 05, 2020
Finding aid is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited in 2010 to incorporate inventory of Boxes 1-26. Boxes 27 and 28 added by Rachel Schimke.  Boxes 29-32 added by Rachel Schimke. Boxes 33-34 added by Rachel Schimke. Edited by Maggie Schreiner to reflect updated administrative information  Edited by Heather Mulliner to include 2017 accretion  , September 20102012 , March 2014 , May 2014 , July 2014 , July 2017

Scope and Content Note

The Women's Health Action and Mobilization (WHAM!) Records contain organizing records, videos, photographs, and ephemera related to WHAM!'s support of women's health and access to abortion. The collection contains documentation from individual members of the group and records related to WHAM!'s collaboration with other organizations, particularly ACT UP and mainstream women's organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and the National Organization for Women. The collection, however, does not contain central administrative records of the organization, such as minutes or official correspondence. Instead, the collection reflects the decentralized and grassroots nature of WHAM!, which did not follow a hierarchical leadership structure, but rotated responsibilities of record keeping between weekly facilitators. Individual members maintained detailed records of the actions they were involved in planning. This recordkeeping strategy reflects WHAM!'s practice of allowing any member to propose actions at weekly meetings and form a working groups.

Organizing materials in this collection include letters received by and written by WHAM! members, including letters of protest written to a variety of elected officials and companies, letters of inquiry from women across the country, and correspondence with other women's organizations, as well as limited amount of internal documents between members about issues facing the organization. They include an extensive amount of materials related to individual WHAM! actions and campaigns, including the protests against the 1991 "Gag Rule," Tax the Church campaign against John Cardinal O'Connor, clinic defense activities with the New York City Clinic Defense Task Force, and activities of several of its working groups. Research materials consist of clippings, articles, and other background material on issues of concern to WHAM members, particularly abortion and other women's health issues. They include copies of clippings and ephemera about the actions of WHAM! and associated organizations, particularly ACT UP.

Audiovisual materials in this collection document WHAM! and ACT UP events and demonstrations, including an extensive series of video tapes of WHAM!'s Resisting Racism workshops. Other materials include abortion-related news clips recorded by WHAM! members, and answering machine tapes documenting incoming calls to WHAM!. A few published videos related to women's health and clinic defense are also included.

Subsequent accretions added to the collection between 1998 and 2014 contain files maintained by individual WHAM! members. These materials relate predominantly to WHAM! direct actions and campaigns, which include flyers, leaflets, clippings, letters, reports, and photographs. Some other files include treasurer's files and early organizing records, which were maintained by individual members of the organization.

Materials added to the collection in 2017 consist of ephemera, photographs, and videos related to the Women's Health Action and Mobilization between 1996 and 2016. A large portion of these materials relate to the WHAM! group Church Ladies for Choice, and include photo albums, videos of songs and protests, flyers, and song books used in their demonstrations. Other materials from this accretion include flyers, articles, business cards, protest songs related to women's reproductive rights generally (1996-2016). Several items relate to other social justice causes including Black Lives Matter and HIV/AIDS activism. These materials also include several collected items related to the Catholic Church including a signed copy of the book "No Turning Back: Two Nuns' Battle with the Vatican over Women's Right to Choose," a collector's issue of the comic book "The Flying Nun," and a boxing nun hand puppet.


Materials in Boxes 1-4 may have been arranged chronologically or alphabetically within each document type by Tamiment archivists, and audiovisual items in Box 5 have been assigned a unique number based on format and arranded by item number

Other materials in collection have been maintained in the order in which they were received by the library. These materials are grouped in boxes by donor or accretion, and have not been arranged by an archivist.