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Lois Gibbs Love Canal Papers

Call Number: MS063

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Scope and Contents

The Lois Gibbs Love Canal papers contain materials primarily about the Love Canal disaster and its aftermath. The collection consists of correspondence; newspaper clippings; health studies; published material; presentations; reports; subject files; and a small amount of audiovisual materials. Of particular interest are subject files from the Love Canal Homeowners Association (LCHA), which Gibbs founded with other Love Canal residents, and a set of materials that Gibbs gathered together as a Women's Activist kit to highlight women in activism and inspire others to organize.

This collection largely documents efforts to relocate Love Canal community members; environmental and health studies conducted on the Love Canal site and its residents; clean-up, construction, and other remedial actions taken at Love Canal; the Love Canal Habitability Study; the resettlement of Love Canal; and the activities of the Love Canal Medical Fund (LCMF).

Significant individuals in this collection include David Axelrod, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health; Stephen Lester, Clement Associates, Inc. staff scientist and member of the Love Canal Medical Fund Board of Directors; and Dr. Beverly Paigen, Roswell Park Memorial Institute scientist. Other notable entities include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Hooker Chemical Company, New York State Department of Health, Occidental Chemical Corporation, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The bulk of the materials in this collection date from 1978-1982.


  • 1951 -- 2010


Physical Location

Boxes 18-29 (barcodes 39090017052230 through 39090017052347) are stored in locations 39090015755057g through 39090015755081g. Boxes 30-31 (barcodes 39090017052354 and 39090017052362) are stored in location 39090015757985g.


This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Any intellectual property rights that the donor possesses have been transferred to Tufts University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Stephen Lester 2011-2017; accession numbers 2012.023, 2015.013, and 2017.042.


This collection is arranged into five series: Subject files; Newspaper clippings; Health studies; Publications and reports; and Awards, audiovisual materials, and ephemera. Received order has largely been maintained by the processing archivists.

Related Materials

Center for Health, Environment, and Justice Records, 1942-2016. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.


37.9 Linear Feet (31 record cartons, 1 object box, and 1 oversize box.)

Language of Materials



Lois Gibbs is a former resident of Love Canal, co-founder of the Love Canal Homeowners Association, and co-founder of the Citizens' Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste (later the Center for Health, Environment and Justice). Her papers document the Love Canal disaster and its aftermath, and include subject files, newspaper clippings, health studies, reports about the Love Canal site and its residents, and a small amount of audiovisual and ephemeral material.

Biographical / Historical

Lois Gibbs (born 1951) is an environmental activist who formed the Love Canal Homeowners Association after discovering that her entire neighborhood of Love Canal, Niagara Falls, New York, had been built on a toxic waste dump. The organization succeeded against strong opposition by local, state, and federal government agencies, and Occidental Petroleum, and President Carter issued an Emergency Declaration in October 1980 to get 833 families evacuated and Love Canal cleaned up. Lois Gibbs and the association were instrumental in the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund. In 1980, Gibbs founded the Citizens' Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste, later renamed the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, and served as its executive director. She has published about Love Canal and was the subject of the TV movie, 'Lois Gibbs: the Love Canal Story.' Gibbs received honorary doctorates from the State University of New York; Cortland College; Haverford College; Green Mountain College; Medaille College; and Tufts University. She has also received numerous awards, including the 1990 Goldman Environmental Prize and the 1998 Heinz Award. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. Gibbs sits on numerous Boards and Advisory Committees, and lives in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband, Stephen Lester.

Custodial History

Boxes 1 through 4 of series one contain legacy files which were transferred to DCA in the 1990s. The remainder of the collection was donated by Stephen Lester in three accessions, 2011-2017.

Processing Information

Boxes 1 through 4 of series one were fully processed by Erin Faulder in May 2012 under supervision of Veronica Martzahl, Records Archivist. Materials were removed from MS001 based on a content list found in MS001's documentation folder.

Preliminary processing of the 2017 accessions was done by Leah Edelman, Records and Accessioning Archivist, in 2017. Materials were placed in archival boxes if the original housing was damaged, and loose materials were placed in folders where needed. Received order was maintained. A box-level inventory and series-level description were created and the finding aid was updated at the time of processing. 

Steven Gentry and Sony Prosper, Archives and Reference Assistants, processed boxes 5 through 33 at the folder-level under the direction of Adrienne Pruitt, Collections Management Archivist, in Summer 2017. Series-level description was updated and a folder-level inventory was created. Received order was largely maintained.

Repository Details

Part of the Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States