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Emma Goldman Clinic (Iowa City, Iowa) records

Identifier: IWA0466
The records of the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women date from 1971 to 2008 and measure 23 linear feet. The records are arranged into the following series: Administration; EGC projects; Anti-abortion movement; Pro-choice movement; Publications, EGC; Publications, non-EGC; Newspaper clippings; Photographs; Scrapbook; and Artifacts.

The Administration series (1973-2001) is the largest series of the collection.  It includes information on the day-to-day operation of the clinic as a feminist health collective and as a business. It includes committee minutes, advertising brochures and posters, and correspondence between clinic staff and the general public. The Quad Cities location subseries contains documents about a proposed expansion of EGC into the region in the mid-1990s and includes fundraising records, letters of opposition and support from Quad Cities residents, and newspaper clippings. Materials that pertain to Iowa's parental notification law and a lawsuit filed by EGC against Operation Rescue complete this series. 

The EGC projects series (1972-2005) includes information about major projects sponsored by EGC, notably the cervical cap project and the safer sex kit project.  It also contains information about fundraisers and community events sponsored by the EGC, including annual Choice Dinners. The services and information subseries is comprised of scholarly articles, brochures, and newsletters that relate to a variety of medical and health issues.

The Anti-abortion movement series (1978-2003) contains books, pamphlets, a videocassette tape, and newsletters from local and national anti-abortion organizations and activists. It also includes materials about abortion providers who were targeted by anti-abortion activists. This series contains materials about an effort to boycott businesses that worked with the EGC in the early 1990s. Records include information about the types of tactics anti-abortion activists employed in Iowa City and throughout the United States. Some of the correspondence, photographs, and brochures contain graphic images or threatening language. 

The Pro-choice movement series (1977-1996) is comprised of newsletters, correspondence, and memoranda related to feminist health centers across the United States and local and national pro-choice organizations. This series includes information about the types of tactics pro-choice activists used to protect clinic buildings, staff, and patients from harassment, bombings, and assassinations. 

The Publications, EGC series (1978-2008) contains newsletters, pamphlets, and medical booklets published by the EGC.  The largest newsletter in the series is Emma's Journal, which includes articles about topics ranging from clinic security to health issues to community events; most of the articles are written by clinic staff. This series also includes student essays that reflect on the history and philosophy of the EGC.

The Publications, non-EGC series (1971-1996) includes academic journals, scholarly articles, organizational newsletters, and books that were not published by the EGC, but include information related to health care or feminist activism. This series contains indices of a variety of articles on topics such as feminism, medicine, and politics. An original copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves, published by the Boston Women's Health Collective completes the series.

The Newspaper clippings series (1973-2000) contains newspaper articles from local, state, and national newspapers. Most of the articles were pertain to the Emma Goldman Clinic, local and national anti-abortion activism, and responses to the vandalism of clinics and violence against clinic personnel. The majority of articles are from Iowa newspapers.

The Photographs series (1970s-2000) includes an assortment of photographs, including interior and exterior shots of EGC buildings, annual Choice Dinners, anti-abortion pickets, and still shots of clinic staff and volunteers.  Many of the photographs are labeled according to event. Approximately one-third of the photographs are not labeled.

The Scrapbook (1973-1986) consists primarily of newspaper clippings.  It also includes flyers and correspondence.  Many of the newspaper clippings pertain to the opening of the Emma Goldman Clinic in 1973.  The Artifacts series includes a t-shirt designed by EGC staff, birth control devices, and educational materials about safer sex practices.


  • 1971-2008


Conditions Governing Access

The minutes of and other records of the Emma Goldman Clinic board, central committee, and clinic committees (Boxes 1-30) are restricted. They are open only to researchers who sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that they will not divulge names or other personally-identifiable information encountered in these files.

Confidential information in the administrative files has been redacted, and redacted copies are available to researchers. Originals of the redacted items are closed for 75 years from the date of creation.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.


23.00 linear feet

Photographs in boxes 36, 49-50, 58-60<br>5 audiocassettes [AC1308-AC1312]<br>1 CD [d0052]<br>2 videocassettes [V385, V171] other_unmapped


Feminist health clinic.

Arrangement Administration Boxes 1-30

EGC projects Boxes 30-48

Anti-abortion movement Boxes 48-50

Pro-choice movement Boxes 50-53

Publications, EGC Boxes 53-54

Publications, non-EGC Boxes 54-56

Newspaper clippings Boxes 56-57

Photographs Boxes 36, 59-50, and 58-60

Scrapbook Box 61

Artifacts Boxes 38 and 62-63

Biographical / Historical

The Emma Goldman Clinic for Women opened on September 1, 1973, at 715 N. Dodge Street in Iowa City, nine months after the passage of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States. The Emma Goldman Clinic was the first outpatient abortion clinic in Iowa and the first feminist health clinic in the Midwest. The idea for a feminist clinic began with a group of approximately twelve young women in Iowa City who were active in the Women's Center and had been providing abortion referral information to area women since the early 1970s. At the early meetings, members discussed their plans to open a clinic based on feminist ethics and funding for the project. The Emma Goldman Clinic was organized as a non-profit feminist health collective. Its original structure reflected the feminist movement of the 1970s, and emphasized collective action and group effort. Conceptually, the clinic was grounded in a body positive, self-help model intended to empower women to be active participants in their own health care. The clinic provided abortions, birth control information, gynecology services, and counseling. It was staffed by physicians, laywomen trained as para-medicals, and counselors. The clinic has been restructured several times and has adapted to social and political changes. Initially, the collective consisted of twelve women who made all decisions. The original organizational structure remained in place until 1977, when it was replaced with a modified collective structure. The modified collective structure consisted of committees led by co-directors, who took committee recommendations to a central committee that made decisions and set policy. This modified organizational structure maintained the spirit of the collective but in a more manageable fashion. It defined the clinic until 1995, at which time an external board of directors and executive director replaced the modified collective. In 1991, the central committee enlisted an outside consultant to evaluate the clinic operation. Per the recommendation of the evaluator, the central committee recognized that another organizational change was necessary in order for the clinic to continue and thrive. Seeking voices outside the collective, the central committee established an advisory board comprised of Iowa City community members and Emma Goldman Clinic co-directors. The long-range goals, organizational planning, and policy making were determined by the board of directors and implemented by the executive director. The Emma Goldman Clinic moved to its current location on Dubuque Street, Iowa City in 1985. Since its founding, the clinic has provided abortions, gynecological care, and testing for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The clinic has offered healthcare to women of all ages; these services include artificial insemination, a trial of the cervical cap birth control method, and treatments for the symptoms brought on by menopause. During the 1980s, the clinic added outreach services to teenagers and began to offer HIV services. While most of the feminist health clinics that formed in the 1970s have closed, the Emma Goldman Clinic continues to empower women and their families by providing educational services and healthcare.

Method of Acquisition

The records (donor no. 687) were donated by the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women in 1999 and in subsequent years.

Other Descriptive Information


Sandi Solis, 2000-2002; and Karissa Haugeberg, 2008.
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)