Media Contact: Laurel Lundstrom, [email protected]
December 20, 2022— Pathfinder International, a global sexual and reproductive health and rights organization, has donated the organization’s archived documents spanning from approximately 1957 to 1982 to Harvard Medical School.
The documents are now held in the Center for the History of Medicine in the Countway Library. Located in the Harvard Longwood Medical Area, the Center is the hub for the university’s medical, dental, and public heath special collections and archives. The documents relate to Pathfinder’s founder Clarence Gamble.
“We are honored that Harvard will receive and ensure public access to these documents,” said Collin Mothupi, Chair of the Pathfinder Board of Directors. “Sadly, there was a time in our past when the eugenics philosophy of Pathfinder founder Clarence Gamble was encouraged. We hope that putting these documents in the hands of Harvard will shed light on this deeply troubling history. Harvard will be a responsible steward and repository for researchers wishing to access these materials. The role of eugenics in the history of the early family planning movement is a critical area for research”
Today, Pathfinder is a leading organization supporting reproductive rights and services to women and young people in countries around the world. Pathfinder has strengthened and built trust in networks of health services across multiple countries, serving millions of people every year. We champion voluntary decisions about using contraception and reproductive health services and combat stigma, bias, and norms that hinder rights and access to services.
“Pathfinder has made an impressive commitment to ensuring public access to records that enable the examination of the past for the purpose of creating a more equitable and just present and future,” said Scott Podolsky, Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of Countway’s Center for the History of Medicine.
One of the most comprehensive academic health research libraries in the country, and a leader in promoting access to special collections that support research in the history of medicine and public health, the Countway Library advances health and biomedical sciences through education, research, scholarship and professional growth by facilitating access to scholarly information and knowledge, preserving a historical record, and creating a stimulating and synergistic setting for intellectual growth. Its Center for the History of Medicine stewards especially important collections related to the history of reproductive health.
Pathfinder works with local partners to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world—including those affected by poverty, conflict, climate change, and natural disasters. Taken together, Pathfinder’s programs enable millions of people to choose their own paths forward.