Finding Aid for the Judy Freespirit papers, 1971-1983

Processed by Stacy Wood, 2011; machine-readable finding aid created by Caroline Cubé.
UCLA Library Special Collections
Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
Box 951575
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
Email: spec-coll@library.ucla.edu
URL: http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/special/scweb/
© 2013
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


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 Number 1956). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

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.

Container List

Box 1, Folder 1

Radical Therapy Materials. 1971.

Physical Description: flyers, certificates, notes and photocopies

Scope and Content Note

Includes flyers from speaking engagements, professional and student association certificates, "An Open Letter to all my Former Shrinks", notes and copies of newspaper clippings. All materials are by Judy Freespirit.
Box 1, Folder 2

Political Publications. 1972.

Physical Description: photocopied and bound publications

Scope and Content Note

Independent or small press publications not by Judy Freespirit. Includes: A Citizen's Guide to the Right Wing released by the UAW, Female Liberation as the Basis for Social Revolution by Roxanne Dunbar, Grand Juries and Immunity Law published by the Coalition to End Grand Jury Abuse, The Anti-Mass by Unspecified, Socialism/Feminism: Papers from the New American Movement Conference on Feminism and Socialism in Durham, North Carolina over Thanksgiving Weekend 1972.
Box 1, Folder 3

Reprinted/Copied Articles. 1973-1974.

Physical Description: printed paper

Scope and Content Note

All articles are published, written and released by other than Judy Freespirit. The folder includes: Was it Freedom Calling by Josselynne for Josselynne's Theatre Woman, a Radio Script for Alternatives in Education: Textbooks Trash Girls by Vivian Mayer, Woman Identified Woman by RADICALESBIANS, More Lesbian Than Thou: Women Trashing Women from the Advocate March 8, 1978.
Box 1, Folder 4

Published Articles by Judy Freespirit. 1974-1979.

Physical Description: printed paper

Scope and Content Note

"Feminist Ethics: An Opinion" from April 1979 Sonoma County Lesbian and Gay Alliance News Volume 2 Number 3 "Statement from the Radical Feminist Therapy Collective" in SISTER from September of 1974.
Box 1, Folder 5

Radical Therapy Materials Not by Judy Freespirit. 1977.

Physical Description: printed unbound manuscript

Scope and Content Note

"Radikale Feministiese Therapie" is an unbound manuscript in German including musical scores, essay, cartoons and other drawings. Also included are the "Fat Liberation Manifesto" by the Fat Underground, "Assertiveness Training", "How to Spot a Radical Therapist", a flyer for the Womon's Self Healing Weekend, Sliding Scale Price Structure, Radical Therapy Manifesto, and introduction to basic group structure, and a reading list.
Box 1, Folder 6

Poetry and Prose by Judy Freespirit. 1977-1982.

Physical Description: printed paper

Scope and Content Note

Includes the short story "The Beautiful Fat Woman", an essay entitled "Some Random Thoughts on Freaks and Fat Ladies", a talk adapted from an in service symposium on obesity sponsored by the Contra Costa Health Department entitled "A Question of Weight", the short story "On Ward G" and a collection of poems.
Box 1, Folder 7

Anti Briggs Initiative/Proposition 6 Tour Materials. 1978.

Physical Description: printed paper, photocopies

Scope and Content Note

Itineraries and contracts from talks and performances throughout California in support of the Anti Briggs effort.
Box 1, Folder 8

New Alliance for Gay Equality Materials. 1978.

Physical Description: bound glossy paper

Scope and Content Note

Press manual and program guide for fundraising event.
Box 1, Folder 9

Malka Windsinger Manuscript. 1980.

Physical Description: spiral bound paper

Scope and Content Note

Manuscript for unpublished novel entitled Malka Windsinger.
Box 1, Folder 10

Interview Transcript Part 1. 1981.

Physical Description: printed paper

Scope and Content Note

Interview with otherwise unspecified Cathy about childhood, class consciousness, identity issues and politics, political activism and therapeutic community.
Box 1, Folder 11

Interview Transcript Part 2. 1981.

Scope and Content Note

Interview with otherwise unspecified Cathy about childhood, class consciousness, identity issues and politics, political activism and therapeutic community.
Box 1, Folder 12

Correspondence. 1981-1983.

Physical Description: notes, correspondence, printed paper

Scope and Content Note

Some personal notes, but mostly correspondence with small publishers about distribution deals. Namely with Aunt Lute and Diaspora.
Box 1, Folder 13

Flyers. 1982-1983.

Physical Description: flyers

Scope and Content Note

Flyers for various one woman shows and group performances
Box 1, Folder 14

Fat Underground Literature. No Date.

Physical Description: printed paper

Scope and Content Note

Fat Liberation Manifesto, surveys, sample letters to doctors, medical information, humor, information on job discrimination, psychiatry, stereotypes, "Female and Welfare" by Betsy Warrior, "Fat Liberation: Outline for a Radical Therapy Approach"
Box 1, Folder 15

Miscellaneous. No Date.

Physical Description: clippings, printed paper, photocopies

Scope and Content Note

Newspaper clippings, an inventory of the collection which does not match original organization, "The Woman with the Two Hundred Pound Mustache" by Lyn McAffee and Aldeberan, a service contract with pay stubs and a photocopied baby picture (unnamed).
Box 1, Folder 16

Rape Prevention Literature. No Date.

Physical Description: printed paper

Scope and Content Note

Program for Anti Rape Conference, "Rape: The Experience" by Anonymous, "The Politics of Rape" by Susan Griffin, "How Not to Get Raped" from the NY Radical Feminists.
Box 1, Folder 17

Keeping it in the Family. No Date.

Physical Description: cassette tapes

Scope and Content Note

Judy Freespirit reading her novel on cassette tape.