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Finding Aid for the Judy Freespirit papers, 1971-1983
1956  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Judy Freespirit papers
    Date (inclusive): 1971-1983
    Collection number: 1956
    Creator: Judy Freespirit né Judith Ackerman
    Extent: 1 box (.5 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Judy Freespirit was born Judith Louise Berkowitz in 1936 in inner city Detroit, Michigan to a working class Jewish family of Eastern European descent. She often points to her early life as formative for her political and activist work later as well as crediting theatre and dancing as positive outlets for frustration. An incest survivor who was pressured to diet beginning at age eight, she developed a love of the stage and a well defined sense of humor. Judy Freespirit was a lifelong activist and advocate for Jewish, lesbian and fat rights. With a background in radical therapeutic theory and practice as well as a community organizational ethic, she formed the Fat Underground in 1976, an organization devoted to both informing and mobilizing the public. Freespirit was also a writer and performer, lending her talents to a traveling Anti Briggs Initiative show and continuing to perform in both group and individual contexts. She continued to perform, educate, and counsel up until her death in 2008. This collection includes materials with her married name, Judith Ackerman because she continued to use it for legal purposes after her marriage. It contains written and published materials by Judy Freespirit, as well as other materials that are part of her personal collection of political writings and community information. The bulk of the writings in this collection are focused on Freespirit's fat activism, specifically through her involvement with both Radical Therapy practices and the Fat Underground.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Language of the Material: Materials are in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Judy Freespirit, 1992. This collection is part of an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) and the UCLA Library.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Stacy Wood, 2011.

    Sponsor

    The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive  at UCLA is an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives , the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW)  and the UCLA Library . These collections expand the pool of primary source materials available to researchers and to the community at large. This partnership was initiated by CSW and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to inventory, organize, preserve, and digitize more than eighty Mazer collections pertaining to lesbian and feminist activism and writings.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Judy Freespirit papers (Collection 1956). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6961280 

    Biography/History

    Judy Freespirit was born Judith Louise Berkowitz in 1936 in inner city Detroit, Michigan to a working class Jewish family of Eastern European descent. She often points to her early life as formative for her political and activist work later as well as crediting theatre and dancing as positive outlets for frustration. An incest survivor who was pressured to diet beginning at age eight, she developed a love of the stage and a well defined sense of humor. She attended Michigan State University for two years and majored in drama before marrying. She moved to Japan with her husband after he was drafted, giving birth to her son Joe abroad. She, Joe and her husband moved to Los Angeles in 1960 where she finally finished college and began her work in the psychiatric field, finishing her Master's Degree at the age of 35. Through her discovery of the Women's Liberation Movement in Los Angeles and her professional background, Judy developed and began to share her Radical Therapy skills with the feminist community in small group settings. During this period she came out as a lesbian and left her husband. Along with four others, Judy founded the Fat Underground in 1976. When she moved up to the Bay Area she also founded the Fat Lip Reader's Theatre, a collective of fat women writing and performing comedic, dramatic and musical theatre. In 1978, Judy became involved in working to stop the Briggs Initiative and travelled around California raising awareness and funds for its defeat. After its defeat, she moved to the Berkeley/Oakland area and Judy began to become more focused on her Jewish identity, involving herself in a Jewish Lesbian Writer's group in 1982 and going on to perform and participate at the Jewish Feminist Conference in San Francisco. After suffering from a struggle with asthma and the discovery of severe allergies, Judy became active in the disability movement, working with the World Institute on Disabilities. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Judy wrote and performed prolifically, creating one woman shows dealing with her life as a fat, Jewish, lesbian incest survivor with disabilities. She published in journals, spoke at health conferences, provided counseling and made people laugh. Up until her death she remained an advocate, calling for more visibility of the gay and lesbian community in elder care housing, specifically in San Francisco's The Jewish Home where she passed away in 2008.

    Chronology

    1936 Born Judith Louise Berkowitz
    1960 Moves to Los Angeles
    1976 Fat Underground is founded
    1978 Fat Lip Theatre is founded
    1978 Briggs Initiative and subsequent Anti Briggs Initiative traveling show.
    1982 Becomes involved with the Jewish Lesbian Writer's group
    2008 Judy Freespirit passes away

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains written and published materials by Judy Freespirit, as well as other materials that are part of her personal collection of political writings and community information. The bulk of the writings in this collection are focused on Freespirit's fat activism, specifically through her involvement with both Radical Therapy practices and the Fat Underground. This collection includes materials with her married name, Judith Ackerman because she continued to use it for legal purposes after her marriage.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged chronologically.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Lesbian actresses --California --Archival resources.
    Lesbian activists --California --Archival resources.
    Jewish lesbians --California --Archival resources.
    Body image in women --Archival resources.
    Discrimination against overweight women --United States --Archival resources.
    Radical therapy --Archival resources.

    Related Material

    There are recordings of Judy Freespirit speaking in the Burke (Kevin) Sound Recordings 1975-1979 collection as well as materials in the Alfred (Randy) Subject Files and Sound Recordings 1974-1990 collection. Both of these collections are found at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.