Dayton Women's Health Center Records
Scope and Content
The Dayton Women's Health Center Records document the administration and history of Dayton's first legal abortion clinic, as well as the litigation and controversy surrounding it. In addition to organizational records, the collection contains newspaper clippings; a scrapbook; correspondence; audiovisual materials, including recordings and photographs of picketers; and memorabilia. Through these records, researchers will gain insight into the operations of a women's health clinic and the turbulence of public opinion toward abortion in 1970s-1990s Dayton. The records are arranged into six series.
Series I, Administration, contains records documenting the business activities and history of the DWHC. Included are board meeting minutes, employee and medical handbooks, blueprints and building plans, statistics, not-for-profit registration, articles of incorporation, and research on other clinics. While this series includes a few financial records, these records are sporadic and document a very small portion of the clinic's history.
Series II, Abortion Controversy, contains materials documenting the abortion debate, and is divided into three subseries.
Subseries IIA, Pro-Choice Materials, contains correspondence from the clinic's supporters and former patients; newsletters and brochures from pro-choice organizations, including the National Abortion Rights Action League and Catholics for a Free Choice; handbooks on birth control and reproductive health; and a National Abortion Federation Field Guide to Anti-Abortion Extremists.
Subseries IIB, Pro-Life Materials, contains newsletters, brochures, flyers, ads, and other literature from pro-life organizations such as Rescue Dayton/The Jericho Project, Dayton Right to Life, the Pro-Life Action Line, and the Army of God. Many of these materials were sent to the DWHC by pro-life activists or left by picketers. This subseries also includes "hate mail" and letters from pro-life advocates, including one folder containing correspondence from David Enix, a picketer with whom the DWHC was involved in lengthy court cases.
Subseries IIC, Picket Notes, contains records of picketers that were written by DWHC staff and volunteers, particularly Jan Rudd. Few of these records are from prior to 1986, when the DWHC began to experience heavy picketing and became involved in litigation against them. The majority of the picket notes are from 1986-1991. Notes include the names of picketers, when they picketed, and what they did or said to DWHC staff, volunteers, and patients. Most of these picket notes correspond to the court cases described in Series IV, Litigation, and were compiled into a binder for the Enix contempt hearings, which has been disassembled into this series. Also see Series V, Audiovisual, for photographs and videos of the picketers.
Series III, Newspaper Clippings and Scrapbook, consists of newspaper clippings and one scrapbook documenting the history of the Dayton Women's Health Center and abortion in Ohio and the United States. The majority of the newspaper clippings are from the Dayton Daily News. Many of the clippings feature the activities of pro-life and abortion protest groups, including the picketers who frequented the DWHC in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pro-choice groups are also well represented in the newspaper clippings, which include coverage of local and national abortion rights marches. Clippings have been cut from whole newspapers. The scrapbook consists entirely of newspaper clippings on the same topics. These clippings have not been removed from their sticky pages. Loose items were removed and interfiled with the rest of the clippings. Items in this series are arranged in chronological order. Clippings of interest include those from 1973 (the opening of the clinic), 1986-1990 (the Enix trials), and 1997 (the closing of the clinic).
Series IV, Litigation, includes court documents, correspondence, and other records pertaining mostly to the DWHC's legal cases against picketers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Enix court documents are divided by case number, as the case was appealed several times and tried in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Montgomery County Court of Appeals, and Ohio Supreme Court. Legal correspondence has been filed separately from any enclosed court documents. This series also includes attorney's fee statements and some records of litigation not pertaining to picketers.
Series V, Audiovisual, consists of photographs, negatives, audio and videocassettes, slides, and a 16mm film. Most of these items document the activities of pro-life picketers outside the clinic. The photographs and audio and videocassettes, in particular, were used as evidence in court against the picketers involved in the Enix trials. Many of the photographs are labeled with dates and names of the picketers, while four folders contain undated and unlabeled photographs. A few photographs detail the interior of the clinic or feature staff members. The materials in this series do NOT feature images or footage of patients, doctors, or abortions. Polaroids have been placed in paper sleeves, and negatives have been placed in plastic sleeves and housed in a binder box. One VHS tape features a news segment on the DWHC. The audiocassettes in this series are particularly fragile.
Series VI, Memorabilia and Magazines, contains memorabilia relating to the DWHC and the activities of its staff and volunteers, as well as People and Life magazines on teen pregnancy and fetal development. Included are a DWHC office door sign; a clinic escort vest and t-shirt (worn by clinic volunteers to escort patients past picketers and into the clinic); a National Abortion Rights Action League hat; a pocket Bible; some political pins pertaining to abortion, women's rights, and voting rights; and stickers and posters pertaining to the same.
- Dayton Women’s Health Center (Organization)
Restrictions on Access
Access to Box 1, Folder 15 is restricted due to the sensitive nature of the materials. Due to preservation concerns, only reference copies of original audio and video materials can be accessed in the reading room. Items without reference copies can be digitized at the request of a patron for the cost of creating a digital copy. Please provide at least two weeks advance notice when requesting an audio or video reference copy. Call (937) 775-2092 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use of digitized content is subject to conditions governing use. There are no restrictions on accessing the remainder of the material.
Restrictions on Use
Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.
History of Dayton Women's Health Center
The Dayton Women's Health Center, or DWHC, opened on September 7, 1973. Located on South Dixie Highway in Kettering, it provided a variety of women's reproductive health care services, including pregnancy tests, birth control, and abortions. Having opened only months after the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States, the DWHC was the first legal abortion clinic in Dayton, and the first such non-profit facility in Ohio.
The organizers behind the DWHC were Jan Griesinger, Anita Wilson, and Laurie Heindal. Jan was a member of Dayton Women's Liberation, a local women's rights organization, and Clergy and Lay, an abortion consultation service. Anita Wilson was previously involved with the Ohio Abortion Alliance, and, along with Laurie Heindal, was a counselor for Clergy and Lay. The three met in January 1973 to discuss Dayton's need for a women's health clinic to provide birth control and safe, legal, affordable abortions. Anita and Laurie became co-directors of the new clinic, and Anita went on to direct it until 1997.
Due to its controversial nature as an abortion clinic, the DWHC attracted the attention of many pro-life activists, who often picketed outside the clinic, waving signs, distributing literature, chanting, and yelling. In 1986, the DWHC became involved in a court case against David Enix and other pro-life activists, who had been picketing persistently outside the clinic. The Montgomery County Common Pleas Court ruled in the clinic's favor, and the DWHC was granted an injunction against picketers. The case was then tried in the Montgomery County Court of Appeals, and finally the Ohio Supreme Court, but the verdict was upheld. In 1993, the DWHC successfully sued Enix for payment of attorney fees.
During its 24 year existence, the DWHC provided services to 45,000 women. The clinic closed on April 4, 1997. It was sold to the Dayton Women's Medical Center, which continues to operate a women's health clinic in Kettering today.
5.8 linear feet
Language of Materials
Established in Kettering, Ohio, in September 1973, the Dayton Women's Health Center provided a variety of women's reproductive health services, including pregnancy tests, contraceptives, and abortions. This collection consists of the DWHC's administrative records, legal records, newspaper clippings, photographs, audiovisual materials, and memorabilia. Also included are materials on the abortion debate, such as pro-choice and pro-life brochures, pamphlets, newsletters, and other literature; records of picketers at the clinic; and correspondence from the DWHC's opponents and supporters.
Statement of Arrangement
The Dayton Women's Health Center Records are arranged into 6 series and 4 subseries:
- Series I: Administration, 1972-1997
- Series II: Abortion Controversy, 1973-1997
- Subseries IIA: Pro-Choice Materials, 1973-1997
- Subseries IIB: Pro-Life Materials, 1980-1997
- Subseries IIC: Picket Notes, 1981-1996
- Series III: Newspaper Clippings and Scrapbooks, 1973-1997
- Series IV: Litigation, 1974-1996
- Series V: Audiovisual, 1974-1997
- Series VI: Memorabilia and Magazines, 1982-1990
This collection includes videocassettes and audiocassettes (some of which have been digitized), slides, and a 16mm film that require special equipment to access.
This collection was donated to Special Collections and Archives in June 2013 by Anita Wilson, former director of the Dayton Women's Health Center.
Oversize blueprints from Series I: Administration, a picket sign from Subseries IIB: Pro-Life Materials, and posters from Series VI: Memorabilia and Magazines have been separated to Oversize Location 87, File 11. Oversize newspaper clippings from Series II: Newspaper Clippings and Scrapbook have been separated to Oversize Location 87, File 12.
Processed by Sarah Deffinger, 2014.
Manuals and handbooks from Series I, picket notes from Subseries IIC, and court documents from Series IV were removed from their binders and placed in folders. The scrapbook in Series III was placed in a box intact, except for loose materials, which were interfiled with newspaper clippings in that series. Negatives and slides from Series V were placed in plastic sleeves in a binder box.
- Abortion -- Government policy -- Citizen participation
- Abortion -- Ohio
- Dayton (Ohio) -- History
- Dayton Women’s Health Center -- Archives
- Enix, David
- Griesinger, Jan
- Heindal, Laurie
- Kettering (Ohio)
- Negatives (photographs)
- Rudd, Jan
- Slides (photographs)
- Video recordings (physical artifacts)
- Women's health services -- Ohio -- Dayton
- Dayton Women’s Health Center (Organization)
- Guide to the Dayton Women's Health Center Records (MS-479)
- Finding aid prepared by Sarah Deffinger, 2014
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
- 2022 September: Audiocassettes were digitized, two of which were removed from the collection after digitization revealed they were blank of content.
Part of the Wright State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Repository
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA