By Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture
Twelve years after working with the Rubenstein Library’s Sallie Bingham Center to establish a leading collection of women’s health clinic records, women’s health pioneer Merle Hoffman has pledged $1 million to endow the Center’s directorship, which now bears her name. Hoffman intends her gift “to continue to support the visionary efforts by Duke University to honor and document the many courageous women who have fought their own ‘intimate wars’ in the long struggle for reproductive justice. I hope that the Bingham Center will become the bridge between theory and practice that will catalyze future generations to joyfully go further and deeper in the continual battles for women’s equality.”
Hoffman founded one of the first ambulatory surgical centers for women in 1970. Choices Women’s Medical Center has become one of the largest and most comprehensive women’s medical facilities in the U.S. Hoffman placed her papers and Choices’ records at the Bingham Center in 2000. Hoffman is the publisher and editor-in-chief of On the Issues Magazine. Her autobiography, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Board Room, was published in January 2012 by The Feminist Press. Hoffman visited the Rubenstein Library in February to read from Intimate Wars before an engaged audience.
Thanks in part to generous gifts made by Hoffman over more than a decade of collaborating with the Bingham Center, the Center holds a large body of works documenting four centuries of political activity surrounding women’s reproductive health. In addition to personal papers and organizational records, the collection includes books, pamphlets, zines, newsletters and other periodicals, as well as ephemera such as brochures, fliers, posters, buttons, and t-shirts.
Sallie Bingham’s Mending: New & Selected Stories spans a career of fifty years, ranging from the fecund Kentucky of her youth to the stark landscapes of New Mexico. On March 14, Bingham was welcomed back to the Rubenstein Library to read selections from this volume and discuss her current project, The Blue Box: Three Lives in Letters. The new work is based on letters and other papers documenting her maternal forebears—whose lives provide a fascinating window into American and women’s history.
These articles appear courtesy of the Rubenstein Library, Duke University. They appeared in Issue I Volume I (Summer 2012) of RL Magazine magazine, published twice yearly by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University Libraries, Durham, NC.
The full issue is available for viewing online or downloading from Duke University.