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Cynthia Miller Papers

1973-1995
6 boxes (2.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 869

Known in the psychiatric survivors' movement as Kalisa, Cynthia Miller was a radical activist on behalf of the mentally ill. An ex-patient based in New York, she became a member of Project Release in the early 1970s, one of the first wave of organizations fighting for the civil rights of mental patients and combatting forced institutionalization, and was a contributor to Madness Network News and other publications. A poet, writer, and a committed feminist and out lesbian, she took part in civil disobedience to oppose electroconvulsive therapy, working with Judi Chamberlin, George Ebert, Leonard Roy Frank, and others.

Though varied and fragmentary, Cynthia Miller's collection is a rich resource for study of the early history of the psychiatric survivors movement and the work of one activist in resisting psychiatric oppression. The collection contains some of Kalisa's writings and correspondence along with ephemera and a varied collection of newspapers, newsletters, and other publications relating to Project Release and several other organizations that Kalisa supported, including the Mental Patients Liberation Front and the Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients.

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Background on Cynthia 'Kalisa' Miller

A strong presence in the psychiatric survivors movement in New York city during the 1970s and 1980s, Cynthia Miller was an organizer, writer, and activist. A feminist and out lesbian, Kalisa (as she was generally known) had roots in the antiwar movement, but after being hospitalized following "emotional difficulties" ensuing from being raped, according to her physician, she experienced the stigmatization that often accompanied mental illness, making it "extremely difficult" for her to function "at full capacity."

In 1976, Kalisa became a member of Project Release. Dedicated to working nonviolently "to free present and former psychiatric patients from social injustice and oppression," as it announced in its statement of purpose, Project Release was part of the first wave of ex-patients' organizations formed to oppose forced institutionalization and psychiatric oppression. Kalisa joined Judi Chamberlin, George Ebert, Leonard Roy Frank, and Don Weitz, among others, in civil disobedience against electroconvulsive therapy at the American Psychiatric Association in 1983 and the First International Conference on Electroconvulsive Therapy in 1985, and she contributed to a number of early newsletters in the movement.

Scope of collection

Though varied and fragmentary, Cynthia Miller's collection is a rich resource for study of the early history of the psychiatric survivors movement and the work of one activist in resisting psychiatric oppression. The collection contains some of Kalisa's writings and correspondence along with ephemera and a varied collection of newspapers, newsletters, and other publications relating to Project Release and several other organizations that Kalisa supported, including the Mental Patients Liberation Front and the Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients.

Inventory

Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients
1978
Box 1: 1
Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients
1978
Box 4: 1
Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients: introductory statement
ca.1978
Box 1: 2
Anti-psychiatry bibliography
ca.1978
Box 1: 3
Anti-psychiatry bibliography ephemera
1974-1985
Box 1: 4
Artwork and cartoons [photocopies]
1978
Box 1: 5
Astor, Robert: Agreement with Stepping Stone Community Residential Center
1988
Box 1: 6
Black United Front Support Group
ca.1979
Box 1: 7
Bouvia, Elizabeth
1983-1984
Box 1: 8
Buttons [pin-backs: "Weird and proud," "Being weird is not enough," and "Why be normal?"
ca.1980
Box 1: 9
California feminism: a cultural shock, by Monika Jaeckel and Monika Savier, Madness Network News vol. 5:2
1978
Box 4: 2
Center for Independent Livign
1985
Box 1: 10
Coalition Against Psychiatric Abuse: Commitment Papers (We Are Committed)
1988
Box 1: 11
Conreur, Yves-Luc: "A statement from the psychiatrized"
ca.1975
Box 1: 12
Consciousness-raising questions on "mental illness"
ca.1975
Box 1: 13
Correspondence: Conreur, Yves-Luc
ca.1975
Box 1: 14
Correspondence: Disher, Christie
undated
Box 1: 15
Correspondence: Frank, Leonard Roy
1984
Box 1: 16
Correspondence: Gilbert, Andrea
1978
Box 1: 17
Correspondence: Judge, John
1979
Box 1: 18
Correspondence: Kasinsky, Joyce
1978
Box 1: 19
Correspondence: Lakin, Laura
undated
Box 1: 20
Correspondence: Levy, Robert
1986
Box 1: 21
Correspondence: Lorde, Audre
undated
Box 1: 22
Correspondence: Madness Network News
1978
Box 1: 23
Correspondence: Majority Report
1979
Box 1: 24
Correspondence: New York Times
1978
Box 1: 25
Correspondence: Thompson, W. I.
undated
Box 1: 26
Correspondence: unidentified recipients
ca.1975-1985
Box 1: 27
Correspondence: Village Voice
1985
Box 1: 28
Correspondence: Village Voice
undated
Box 4: 3
Counterpoint, vol. 2:2, vol. 11:1, 3
1986-1995
Box 1: 29
Dendron, no. 36
1995
Box 1: 30
Disability education
1992
Box 1: 31
Earth Community Newsletter
1983
Box 1: 32
Electroshock
1985-1988
Box 1: 33
Elizabeth Stone House
undated
Box 4: 4
Feminist ephemera
ca.1980-1986
Box 1: 34
Finances
1978-1981
Box 4: 5
Freespace [newsletter], vol. 3: 11, 12, 14
1978
Box 1: 35
Gillespie, Rob: Opera
1983
Box 1: 36
Hentoff, Nat: "The lords of the locked corridorrs," Village Voice
1979
Box 1: 37
HR 9400: a bill re: redressing cases involving deprivation of rtights of institutionalized persons
1977
Box 1: 38
Lapon, Henry and John Judge: "An appeal for an independent anti-psychiatry movement"
1982
Box 4: 6
Law and mental health
ca.1983-1985
Box 1: 39
Lesbian Support Network
ca.1979
Box 1: 40
Lunacy: A Transformation
ca.1980
Box 4: 7
Madness Network News, vol. 2:3, 5, vol. 3: 3,4, [unnumbered], vol. 4:1, 3, 4, vol. 5:3,
1974-1979
Box 5
Madness Network News, vol. 6:1, 2, 4-6, vol. 7:2, 3, 5, 6, vol. 8:1
1980-1985
Box 6
Mental Health Law Project
undated
Box 1: 41
Mental Patients Liberation Front: Statement
ca.1975
Box 1: 42
Mental Patients Liberation Project
1978-1982
Box 1: 43
Mental Patients Rights Association Newsletter
ca.1980
Box 4: 8
Miscellaneous
ca.1978-1985
Box 1: 44
Miscellaneous
undated
Box 4: 9
National Alliance of Mental Patients
1988
Box 1: 45
National Empowerment Center
1994-1995
Box 1: 46
National Mental Health Consumers Association
1987
Box 1: 47
Network Against Psychiatric Assault
1977-1985
Box 2: 6
Network Against Psychiatric Assault: Dr. Caligari's psychiatric drugs
1984
Box 2: 7
Newsclippings and articles: Homelessness
1980-1987
Box 2: 1
Newsclippings and articles: Institutions
1977-1989
Box 2: 2
Newsclippings and articles: Mental patients
1974-1993
Box 2: 3
Newsclippings and articles: Psychiatry
1985-1988
Box 2: 4
Newsclippings and articles: Women and feminism
1977-1982
Box 2: 5
New York forced drug case
1986
Box 4: 10
No More Cages, vol. 3: 1,3,6; vol. 4: 3,5; vol. 5:
1981-1984
Box 2: 8
North American Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression: Movement statement
1976-1982
Box 2: 9
Notes (miscellaneous)
undated
Box 2: 10
OFF Center [newsletter]
1992
Box 2: 11
On Our Own
1982-1988
Box 2: 12
Ontario Mental Patients Association: "Civil rights for mental patients? Are you crazy?"
1978
Box 2: 13
On the manufacture of madness [draft]
undated
Box 2: 14
Parkin, John and Mark Seem: "Mental health and the technology of normalization"
ca.1975
Box 2: 15
Phoenix Rising, vol. 5:4, vol. 6:1-3
1985-1986
Box 3: 1
Phoenix Rising, vol. 6:4, vol. 7:1-3, vol. 8:1-2
1987-1989
Box 3: 2
Poetry
undated
Box 3: 3
Portrait of a psychiatric oppressor [drafts]
undated
Box 4: 11
Prevention of mental illness: the volunteer in psychiatric settings as a therapist
ca.1975
Box 3: 4
Project for a Music and Movement Program for the New Paltz United Methodist Church Play School
ca.1980
Box 3: 5
Project Release
1976-1977
Box 3: 6
Project Release
ca.1977
Box 4: 12
Project Release: Bibliography of psychiatric oppression
ca.1975
Box 4: 13
Project Release: challenge system, not its victims
ca.1977
Box 4: 14
Project Release: Silent No Longer [newsletter], vol. 1:4-6
1977
Box 3: 7
Project Release et al. v. James Prevost et al.
1978-1979
Box 3: 8
Project ReleaseL Why I am in Project Release, by Joyce Kasinsky
ca.1976
Box 4: 15
Proofreading
undated
Box 4: 16
Psychiatry as social contact [notes]
undated
Box 3: 9
Remembering Electra
undated
Box 3: 10
Rising Up Crazy [newsletter]
1972
Box 3: 11
Rosenbloom, Charles: Letter re: Cynthia Miller
1979
Box 3: 12
Seem, Mark: Preface to three statements from the Third International Meeting of the Alternatives to Psychiatry Network
undated
Box 3: 13
Standing on my knees, by John Olive [review]
1982
Box 3: 14
Survivor from Bellevue... Daughter toward the fourth age... Lesbian/Madwoman
ca.1978
Box 3: 15
State and Mind, vol. 6:3
1978
Box 6
Tempkin, Tanya: "State dumps psychiatrists: former shrinks a threat to our communities"
ca.1980
Box 3: 16
Why we no longer have a section labelled "psychology"
ca.1980
Box 3: 17
Williams, Susan: "Women's psychology: mental illness as a social disease," Radical Women's Publications: Seattle
ca.1973
Box 3: 18
Win, vol. 15:27-28 [issue on psychiatric oppression]
1979
Box 3: 19
Womanews, vol 1:1, 3, 6
1979-1980
Box 3: 20
Women on madness [notes]
undated
Box 3: 21
Womens Center Collective
1978
Box 3: 22
Workshop on Psychiatric Issues, Chelsea Women's Health Team
ca.1980
Box 3: 23
Writings
undated
Box 4: 17

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of Tom Behrendt, June 2015.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, June 2015.

Language:

English

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cynthia Miller Papers (MS 869). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients
  • Chamberlin, Judi, 1944-2010
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Feminism
  • Mental Patients Liberation Front
  • Mentally ill--Civil rights
  • Project Release

Contributors

  • Miller, Cynthia [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Newsletters

Link to similar SCUA collections