Charity of Choice: Our Bodies Ourselves
Biggest Influences Never Met: Judy: Bertrand Russell. Miriam: Pete Seeger.
It Takes a Village: Over the years, thousands of individuals have participated in various editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
21st Century Collaboration: Originally compiled by 12 women using mimeograph machines and red pencils, the latest edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves used Google documents and Wiki conversations to facilitate the collaboration of hundreds.
The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (now known as Our Bodies Ourselves) is the non-profit responsible for Our Bodies, Ourselves, the revolutionary women's health and sexuality bestseller. The book’s first edition was a 35-cent, 196-page newsprint booklet called Women and Their Bodies, written by twelve feminist activists who met at a women’s lib conference health seminar in 1969. The stapled booklet compiled their research and personal experiences of childbirth, violence against women, sexuality, doctors, and more. It sold 200,000 copies by word-of-mouth alone.
Three years later, it became the 276-page Our Bodies, Ourselves, published by Simon & Schuster, and has since sold almost five million copies worldwide, with 26 foreign editions as well as one in braille. The New York Times has called the book, now in its ninth addition, "America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health" and a "feminist classic." And the small, grassroots collective behind it has grown into a strong women’s health education, advocacy, and consulting organization.
MAKERS interviewed Boston Women’s Health Book Collective members Miriam Hawley and Judy Norsigian as representatives of the groundbreaking organization.
Miriam Hawley, organized the original 1969 health seminar that spurred the collective, and became one of the organizations founders and long-standing board members. Hawley is an author, speaker, clinical social worker, group therapist, and organizational consultant. She is currently the CEO of Enlignment®, Inc., a business coaching and consulting company.
Judy Norsigian, also a founder and board member, is currently the Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves. She is an internationally renowned speaker and writer on a wide range of women's health concerns, including abortion and contraception, sexually transmitted disease, genetics, and reproductive technologies. She has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, has an honorary doctorate degree from Boston University, and was selected by Women’s eNews as one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.”