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Judy Freespirit papers, 1971-1983
1956  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use and Reproduction
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing History
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Related Material

  • Title: Judy Freespirit papers
    Collection number: 1956
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.6 linear ft. (1 document box, 1 half-sized document box)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1971-1992
    Abstract: Judy Freespirit was born Judith Louise Berkowitz in 1936 in Detroit, Michigan to a working class Jewish family of Eastern European descent. She pointed to her early life as formative for her political and activist work and credits theatre and dancing as positive outlets for frustration. 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 of Materials: Materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance through out electronic paging system using the "Request items" button.

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance through out electronic paging system using the "Request items" button.

    Conditions Governing Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library Special Collections. 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.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    COLLECTION CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: Audiovisual materials in this collection will require assessment and possible digitization for safe access. To review these audiovisual materials, you must notify the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk in advance of your visit.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Judy Freespirit Papers (Collection 1956). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    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 History

    Processed by Stacy Wood, 2011. Description enhanced and further physical processing completed by Sabrina Ponce in 2017.
    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.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6961280 

    Biography

    Judy Freespirit was born Judith Louise Berkowitz in 1936 in Detroit, Michigan to a working class Jewish family of Eastern European descent. She often pointed to her early life as formative for her political and activist work and credited theatre and dancing as positive outlets for the frustration of being pressured to diet at the age of eight and the trauma of being an incest survivor. 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 finished college and began her work in the psychiatric field, completing 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 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 became more focused on her Jewish identity, involving herself in a Jewish Lesbian Writer's group in 1982 and performing and participating at the Jewish Feminist Conference in San Francisco. After struggling 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 2010.

    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.

    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 .

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Body image in women--Archives.
    Discrimination against overweight women--United States--Archives.
    Jewish lesbians--California--Archives.
    Lesbian activists--California--Archives.
    Lesbian actresses--California--Archives.
    Radical Therapy--Archives.