Planned Parenthood Interviews by Mary Melcher, 2010

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Planned Parenthood Interviews by Mary Melcher, 2010

MS 583

Collection Summary

Creator: Melcher, Mary S.
Collection Name:Planned Parenthood Interviews by Mary Melcher,
Inclusive Dates: 2010
Physical Description:0.25 linear feet
Abstract:5 oral history interviews related to Planned Parenthood, reproductive rights, feminism, politics and health care in Southern Arizona conducted by Mary Melcher in 2010 with the following individuals: Priscilla Robinson, Janet Marcus, Reyn Voevodsky, Judy Tamsen, and Michael Smith.
Collection Number:MS 583
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
University of Arizona
PO Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
Phone: 520-621-6423
Fax: 520-621-9733

Biographical Note

Mary S. Melcher is a historian and curator of exhibits related to Arizona and women’s history. She is the co-founder of a state-wide project, the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail. She has conducted over 140 oral histories which have culminated in exhibits, articles and speeches. She holds a Ph.D. in American History from Arizona State University and a Masters of Arts in Literature from Goddard Cambridge College. She currently works as Education Program Manager at Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona.

Scope and Content Note

Oral histories recorded in 2010 available on 5 CDs and copies of signed permission agreements. The following details recount biographical information related to the interviewee and summarizes the subjects discussed in the interviews. The specific location, date and length of each interview is noted.


This collection is organized into 1 series.



There are no restrictions on this collection.


It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for the University of Arizona, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Melcher, Mary S., 1955-.

Corporate Name(s)
Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Geographic Name(s)

Abortion -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Arizona – History.
Birth control.
Clergy -- Political activity -- United States.
Oral history.
Pregnancy, Unwanted -- Decision making.

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Planned Parenthood Interviews by Mary Melcher (MS 583). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.

Container List

Series I Oral History Interviews, 2010, 2010
11 Priscilla Robinson (1931-2013). Recorded in Tucson, AZ. Recording length 1 hour 25 minutes and 42 seconds. September 20, 2010
Robinson came from a family of all scientists, with her brother being a mathematician and theoretical physicist. Her father did chemical warfare service (presumably during World War II) and died in an accident when she was still in high school. Priscilla started her higher education with a major in Geology, but eventually graduated from The University of Arizona with a degree in Anthropology in 1952. She became a state social worker for the Hopi Nation. After marrying in 1957, she stayed at home being the mother of 2 children. She joined the Board for Planned Parenthood and volunteered at the clinic in a secretarial capacity and managed volunteers as well as helping patients. After the introduction of “The Pill” nation-wide, the clientele changed from being predominately Hispanic to including more white, single women and college students. The rest of the interview recounts the struggles and process of abortion reform as well as the general state abortion restrictions, though her efforts were somewhat forgotten in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973.
12 Janet Marcus (1935-). Recorded in Tucson, AZ. Recording length 1 hour 5 minutes 44 seconds., September 2, 2010
Janet Marcus was born in 1935. She hails from the Chicago area and went to a women’s college in Massachusetts. She received an English degree and went on to earn a Master’s degree in English Teaching from Harvard. Her mother had a law degree but choose to stay at home and her father owned an advertising business. Janet married in 1957 in Boston, Massachusetts and later moved to Washington, D. C. and eventually Tucson, Arizona in 1968. Her husband, Dr. Frank Marcus, is one of the founders of the Cardiac/medical school at The University of Arizona. Janet became involved in Mothers for Peace during the Vietnam War and was involved with the Democratic Party as a precinct committeeperson. Later, she joined Common Cause, a non-partisan citizen’s lobby. In the early 1970s she was a state chairperson for Common Cause and later was on the national governing board. Janet cited that her identifying as a strong feminist, including her political involvement, was the reason she was on the Planned Parenthood board. She received her Master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance and became an Abortions Counselor for Planned Parenthood. Janet also worked on many other community projects and also served on Tucson City Council from 1987 to 1999.
13 Reyn Voevodsky (1937-). Recorded in Tucson, AZ. Recording length is 42 minutes 57 seconds., November 23, 2010
Voevodsky was born in 1937 in Manhattan, New York. She moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1947and grew up on a cattle ranch with her adoptive parents. She attended Stanford to study Russian and Middle Eastern history and graduated in 1959. Her grandmother, Josephine Thomas, rented a room in their house for Margaret Sanger, whom Reyn identified as “very impressive” and “emanating energy”. Reyn became very interested in the idea of population control and got involved with Planned Parenthood as a result. She cites that the original goal of Planned Parenthood was to help mothers plan their families. Note: a lot of interview content is shared/similar to that of Priscilla Robinson’s interview.
14 Michael Smith (1940-). Recorded in Tucson, AZ. Recording length is 1 hour 8 minutes 31 seconds., September 8, 2010
Smith was born in Illinois in 1940. After contracting hay fever as a small child, his family was advised to move to a warm, dry climate to help alleviate his symptoms and so moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1944 around the Scottsdale area. He graduated from Occidental College in 1965 earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. He later graduated from seminary school at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Michael worked at Campus Ministry at The University of Arizona from 1971 to 1977. While there, he encountered numerous unintended pregnancies experienced by female student and was indirectly responsible for advising them. He became, along with other ministers/religious figures, an advocate for abortion rights by physically going to the Planned Parenthood facility and setting up appointments with women about their options. He cites that the fight for abortion rights “…is all about people being able to decide these issues for themselves.”
15 Judy Tamsen (1935-). Recorded in Tucson, AZ. Recorded length is 1 hour 17 minutes 13 seconds., September 20, 2010
Tamsen was born in Ohio in 1935. Her mother was a housewife and her father managed an insurance and real estate company, later opening his own building firm. Judy graduated from Purdue University having studied “languages”. After marrying and moving East, she and her husband then moved to Arizona in 1961. In 1963, she became a volunteer for a hospital and was suggested to volunteer at Planned Parenthood. Having not knowing what it was, she worked the front desk and was later hired in 1969 at Planned Parenthood in an administrative role. Her husband died in 1978. In 1979, she became the Director of Counseling at Planned Parenthood until her retirement in the mid-2000s.