Batya Weinbaum papers, 1936-2021

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Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture and Weinbaum, Batya
Batya Weinbaum is a Jewish American artist, musician, poet, author, editor and professor. In addition to founding and editing the interdisciplinary feminist journal Femspec, she has published 17 books and more than 250 articles, poems, essays and reviews. She has made contributions to the fields of multiculturalism, women's studies, sexuality studies and education. The collection documents her personal and professional history, containing materials related to Weinbaum's writing and research, including drafts of her books, materials related to the journal Femspec, and several decades of journals and sketchbooks.
55.0 Linear Feet
1.4 Gigabytes
Materials in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

This collection documents Weinbaum's personal life, education and professional life. The papers are arranged into the following thirteen series: Legal, Correspondence, Press, Activities, Research and Scholarship, Art, Writing, Teaching, Photography, Print Materials, Journals, Family Memorabilia and Audiovisual Materials.

The first series largely documents Weinbuam's lawsuit against Cleveland State University from 2004-2006. The second series contains correspondence primarily related to Weinbaim's teaching and publications, and includes letters she exchanged with influential figures in various fields such as contemporary American literature, multiculturalism, women's studies, poetry, music composition and education. The third and fourth series include press and reviews related to Weinbaum's personal writings and artwork, as well as items associated with workshops, speaking engagements and other activities given or attended by Weinbaum. Her Handmaid's Gate Camp project in Floyd, VA is documented in series four. The next four series contain substantial materials related to Weinbaum's writing and research, including: drafts of her books, poetry, academic publications, artwork, music and materials related to editing and publishing the journal FemSpec. The Teaching series also encompasses syllabi and course materials used during Weinbaum's time as a graduate student instructor and as a professional at Cleveland State University and Pacifica Graduate Institute.

The collection also includes an extensive Photography series, with photographs/negatives Weinbaum took professionally as a documentary photographer in South America and Mexico; fieldwork in China and Israel, as well as family photo albums and scrapbooks. The eleventh series contains several decades of journals, notebooks and sketchbooks. The Family Memorabilia series documents Weinbaum's relationship with her daughter, Ola Liota Weinbaum. The Audiovisual Materials series has electronic files in a variety of formats including: floppy discs, cassettes, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs and VHS tapes. These files encompass Weinbaum's writing and material related to Femspec. The contents of Weinbuam's hard drive are also described throughout the series where appropriate. Where possible, Weinbuam's original folder titles and descriptions have been retained.

Biographical / historical:

Batya Weinbaum is an artist, musician, poet, author, editor and professor. She was born Betty Susan Weinbaum in 1952 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her parents, Barbara Hyman and Jack Gerald Weinbaum, were activists during the civil rights movement.

Weinbaum received her bachelor's degree in Photography from Hampshire College in 1976. After graduation, she traveled across Latin America working as a documentary photographer. While in Chile, she witnessed Salvador Allende's Unidad Popular socialist movement. These experiences led to the publication of her first book, The Curious Courtship of Women and Socialism (South End Press), in 1978. Her photography documents the struggles of women fighting for freedom on the world stage, most notably in South America, China and Israel.

After returning to the United States, Weinbaum went on to receive her Master's degree from SUNY Buffalo in 1986, where she studied ethnomusicology and began painting and composing music based on myths about feminist utopias. Her theories about matriarchal music were published in the book Sounding Off! (Autonomedia, 1995). She became a member of the Vermont Composers Consortium and was an artist in residence at University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana.

Weinbaum received a PhD from the Interdisciplinary American Studies Program (housed in the Department of English) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1996. She conducted her dissertation research on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. She later published her thesis as a book, Islands of Women and Amazons: Representations and Realities (University of Texas Press, 2000). It was on Isla Mujeres that she gave birth to her daughter Ola Liota in 1992. The experience of having a child led Weinbaum to write several poetry collections, a collection of fiction titled Post Modern Motherhood, and found the Feminist Mothers and Their Allies Task Force in the National Women's Studies Association.

In 1997, Weinbaum founded a peer-review feminist journal, Femspec, an interdisciplinary feminist journal dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, surrealism, myth, folklore and the supernatural. From 1998 to 2003, at Cleveland State University, Weinbaum received her first tenure track position teaching courses in English and multicultural literature. She filed a wrongful termination suit against the University in 2004. The case was settled in January 2006.

Following the resolution of the case, Weinbaum taught as a peripatetic educator teaching speech and debate and organizing literary events in Ohio. She was also a visiting faculty member and curriculum adviser at Pacifica Graduate Institute from 2006 to 2007. This position led to a teaching career based on distance learning at a variety of institutions including: Gaia University, Tiffin University, and SUNY New York. Weinbaum currently lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. She is still Editor-and-Chief of Femspec.

Acquisition information:
The Batya Weinbaum papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase from Weinbaum in 2014. Additions were received from 2018-2022.
Processing information:

Processed and described by Valerie Szwaya, 2016.

Accession described in this finding aid: 2014-0112, 2018-0139, 2018-0158, 2019-0203, 2020-0066, 2020-0068, and 2021-0145.

Updated by Megan E. Lewis, November, 2022.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Women's studies -- Study and teaching
Women -- Education (Higher)
Women authors
Women poets
Motherhood- United States
Women artists -- United States
Science fiction -- Authorship
Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture


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[Identification of item], Batya Weinbaum papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.