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Medical] Boston Women's Health Collective.

Women and Their Bodies.


The Rare Precursor
To Our Bodies, Our Selves
[Health issues]. Boston Women's Health Collective. Women and Their Bodies. A Court. [Boston]: (Boston Women's Health Collective, 1970).
Folio; 193 mimeographed leaves; black and white photographs throughout; printed wrappers, stapled; photographic front wrapper depicting two women holding "Women Unite" sign (used on the cover of the first mass market edition of Our Bodies, Our Selves); wrappers yellowed, edges chipped; a handsome copy. In a specially made cloth slipcase.      
The correct first edition of the work that gained international fame as Our Bodies, Our Selves; rare. This lengthy homemade edition includes much of the material that was later included, in both abridged and emended forms, in Our Bodies, Our Selves. Number of copies printed unknown; we have never before encountered a copy. Apparently used, as the sub-title indicates, for a women's health course in Boston, copies were no doubt distributed only to course participants.
A foundational document in modern feminism, the virtual blueprint for the ground-breaking perennial best-seller produced by the Boston Women's Heath Collective in the mid-seventies. Consists of twelve detailed chapters; the general preface-entitled "Course Introduction"-captures the energy and fervor that went into producing this manifesto:
One year ago, a group of us who were then in women's liberation (now most of us consider ourselves members of Bread and Roses) got together to work on a laywoman's course on health, women and our bodies. The impetus for this course grew out of a workshop on "women and their bodies" at Emmanuel College in Boston, 1969. After that, several of us developed a questionnaire about women's feelings about their bodies and their relationship to doctors. We discovered there were no "good" doctors and we had to learn for ourselves... By the fall, we were ready to share our collective knowledge with other sisters. Excited and nervous (we were just women; what authority did we have in matters of medicine and health?), we offered a course to sisters in women's liberation. Singularly and in groups, we presented the topics and discussed the material....Sisters added their experiences, questions, fears, feelings, excitement. It was dynamic! We all learned together.
The introduction goes on to provide a brief textual history:
...One original version of the course was that we as a group would give the course to a group of women who could then go out and give it to other women. To some extent, that is what happened. After the first time around, those of us who had originally worked out the course, plus the women who had taken the course originally, got together in an enlarged group to rewrite the papers so they could be printed and shared. So after a year and much enthusiasm and hard individual and collective thinking, we're publishing these papers. They are not final. They are not static. They are meant to be used by our sisters to increase consciousness about ourselves as women, to build our movement, to begin to struggle collectively for adequate health care and in many other ways they can be useful to you...
It took a long time to put together this course, but we don't consider it a finished product. As more women use, teach, and learn from the course, it must be expanded and revised to meet our needs. We plan to continue our work and want to have a second edition ready to be printed in 6 months to a year. [Our emphasis.] The course will be best changed by the corrections and additions sent in by those who use it. So send them in: Boston Women's Health Collective, c/o New England Free Press, 791 Tremont St., Boston, Mass., 02118.

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