Elizabeth B. Connell Papers Now Open

By , December 5, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Elizabeth B. Connell papers, 1960-2010 (inclusive), 1970-1990 (bulk) are now open to research.

Elizabeth B. Connell was born in 1925 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received her A.B. and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and 1947 and 1951 respectively. During the late 1950s, she worked in general practice in Blue Hill, Maine; Connell later said that this was when she first became acutely aware of the health issues affecting her female patients, particularly contraception and fertility. Connell and her family moved back to Philadelphia from Maine for her further medical training and, in 1960, she moved to New York City to take an obstetrics residency in gynecology.

After completing her residency, Connell received an American Cancer fellowship which allowed her to gain experience in radical cancer surgery. During the early 1960s in New York, she worked to open family planning clinics in Spanish Harlem. Connell held faculty positions at New York Medical College, Columbia University, and Emory University as well as being on the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation for five years. She was the first woman to chair a Food and Drug Administration panel in 1973.

Connell held positions on many advisory boards and committees including for Planned Parenthood, the Food and Drug Administration, the New York City Department of Health, and the Human Resources Administration. She was a member of a large number of professional organizations, including the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Surgeons, the American Public Health Association, the American Fertility Society, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Medical Women’s International Association, the Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of Health.

The collection reflects Connell’s work primarily between the 1960s and the 1990s. Connell worked on multiple levels to promote open access to birth control and adequate reproductive health care for women in the United States and, to a lesser extent, internationally. Materials in the collection reflect Connell’s work with hospitals, private organizations, and government institutions on a variety of women’s health topics, primarily birth control and breast implant safety. Papers include correspondence, clippings, reprints, publications, and manuscripts, transcripts of court proceedings, and subject files on pharmaceuticals and clinical trials of intrauterine devices. The bulk of the collection is made up of subject files and reprints or publications.

Topics include birth control methods, including early testing and release of the birth control pill and development of intrauterine devices, women’s health outside of the United States, and a large amount of material reflecting Connell’s involvement in the legal activity around the safety and use of silicone breast implants. Researchers should note that Howard J. Tatum, Connell’s second husband, developed an early prototype of the intrauterine device form of contraception: the Tatum-T.

The finding aid for the Elizabeth B. Connell papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services.



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