Montreal Health Press

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Montreal Health Press

Parallel form(s) of name

  • les Presses de la Santé de Montréal

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

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Description area

Dates of existence

1968-[2001]

History

The Montreal Health Press–les Presses de la Santé de Montréal–was a feminist, non-profit collective that published affordable print booklets, in French and English, on sexuality and sexual health, for over 30 years. The organization provided affordable and accessible handbooks on issues surrounding birth control, contraception, child birth, sexual orientation, sexually transmitted diseases and menopause.

The organization officially became a women’s collective in 1972, although the collective originated in 1968 when members of the McGill University student body produced and distributed the “Birth Control Handbook.” Two of these student publishers, Donna Cherniak and Allan Feingold, became founding members of the Montreal Health Press.

The organization's administrative style was informal, with annual May meetings held at members’ kitchen tables. One individual was appointed chief coordinator for each publication and members volunteered to contribute their expertise as medical doctors, social scientists, photographers etc. Each handbook was continually re-published with updated medical information.

During the 1970s, a million copies of the “Birth Control Handbook” were distributed. The first handbooks were followed by the “VD Handbook,” in 1973, “A Book about Sexual Assault,” in 1979, and “A Book about Menopause” in 1988, as well as their French-language equivalents. The publications favoured clear and non-judgmental language along with detailed medical diagrams and black and white photographs.

By the 1990s, sales were greatly diminished, due in part to the proliferation of self-help books and to the availability of online content. The collective closed permanently by 2001. During its more than 30-year history, the Montreal Health Press had distributed over 15 million copies of its books and handbooks.

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Internal structures/genealogy

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Control area

Authority record identifier

Canada

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

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Script(s)

Sources

Dunn, K. (1991, October 1). Banned, burned, dumped in Lake Erie – Health Press soldiers on. The Gazette, Montreal, p. A2.

Malhotra, A. (1993). Montreal Health Press Celebrates 25th Anniversary! Healthsharing, Summer/Fall 1993, 7.

Warwick, L. (1996, May 27). Collective wisdom. The Gazette, Montreal, p. E3.

Young, E. (1993). The Montreal Health Press: working to empower women. [Unpublished bulletin]. Montreal Health Press fonds (Box 20, File 28). University of Ottawa Archives and Special Collections, Ottawa, Ontario.

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