Center for Health, Environment, and Justice records, 1945-2011-11-01


468.649999999998 cubic ft., 59 digital objects
Call Number: MS001

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice was founded in 1981 by Lois Marie Gibbs. The organization began as an information clearinghouse for environmental health issues and developed into an organization that focuses on raising awareness for environmental health concerns and assisting communities, organizations and individuals faced with environmental threats. CHEJ publishes a quarterly newsletter, Everyone's Backyard, and works on campaigns that raise awareness of significant environmental threats to communities across the country and abroad. CHEJ works by conducting conversations with community leaders about their problems and provides advice, leadership training, education and assistance. Through this approach they are able to address a large number of environmental threats and empower communities to take action on their own.

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Series Description

  1. Community newsletters, 1988-2000

    This series contains newsletters of grassroots and community-based environmental groups. There are hundreds of different groups represented, covering the United States and southern Canada.

  2. Main Issue Files, 1945-2010

    This series contains newspaper clippings, government publications, and articles on topical issues from 1969 to 2007. CHEJ accumulated these materials from concerned citizens and their own research. Staff organized them alphabetically by subject in filing cabinets for use in fact packs and other publications as well as their own reference. Included at the beginning of the series is an index to the files that was not updated after its original creation and does not include everything found within the series.

  3. Library Materials, 1968-2005

    This series contains government publications, environmental organization’s publications, scientific reports, and other “gray” literature pertaining to environmental issues from 1968 to 2005. These materials were collected and maintained by CHEJ and used for reference and research in the course of business. Topics include air pollution, Superfund sites, hazardous waste cleanup techniques, nuclear waste, drinking water contamination, EPA oversight, solid waste disposal and incineration, pesticides, Clean Air Act, toxic chemicals, waste transportation safety, water pollution, mill waste, national toxicology reports on carcinogens, and OSHA cancer hearings.

  4. General Correspondence, 1980-1993

    This series contains contact sheets and general correspondence from 1978 to 1993. CHEJ used contact sheets from 1981 to 2001. These were forms used to track membership information including names, dues paid, environmental interests, and any affiliation with other local environmental organizations. CHEJ staff used these forms to help organize their member resources. Also included is correspondence from 1978 to 1996 between concerned members of the public and CHEJ. Topics of correspondence include requests for information on specific issues, alerts to environmental issues in correspondent’s area, letters from children expressing their thoughts on environmental problems, missives directed to Lois Gibbs regarding her experience at Love Canal, and thank you letters for events CHEJ funded and hosted.

  5. Corporate Files, 1980-1996

    This series contains informational files on corporate polluters of interest to CHEJ from 1968 to 2004 with the bulk of the material dated between 1980 and 1996. The first box contains general information on types of corporate polluters and topics within corporate pollution. The remaining boxes contain information on specific corporations and their impact on the environment and/or public health. Folders contain media clippings, company-sponsored promotional literature, and other information relating to each corporation. Records were used for reference questions received from community members and their own research.

  6. Mini-grant Files, 1989-1996

    This series contains grant applications from grassroots environmental organizations seeking funding from CHEJ and the grant committee’s notes regarding the applications from 1989-1998. Select files contain personal financial information and should be reviewed before access is granted.

  7. Publications, 1982-2011

    This series contains publications written and published by CHEJ including Everyone’s Backyard (EBY), Action Line, Environmental Health Monthly, copies of Fact Packs, and other specialized publications from 1982-2011. DCA holds multiple copies of all regular publications, including a complete run of their three primary publications available in the DCA reading room.

    Everyone’s Backyard is CHEJ’s quarterly newsletter to provide information about environmental organizing, highlight stories of successes and struggles of other environmental groups, promote large-scale events, and circulate information about CHEJ’s activities. This series contains the production, editing, and draft files of EBY volumes 1-5 (1982-1987), 8 (1990), 10-24 (1992-2006). Currently missing from the series are the production, editing, and draft files of EBY volumes 6-7, (1988-1989), 9 (1991), and volumes 25-29 (2006-2011). Volume 8 records were found in the newsclipping series, which was weeded. Not all issues are represented.

    The Action Line began as a newsletter, separate from EBY, in September 1983 and had 24 individual issues. It highlights local environmental calls-to-action and news releases around the United States with occasional international contributions. It became a component section within EBY in 1989. Action Line production files were interfiled chronologically with EBY production files. Records include newspaper clippings, letters from local environmental activists about their events, and production drafts of the newsletter.

    Environmental Health Monthly ran from 1988-1999 on a predominantly monthly basis. It abstracted and printed “interesting articles on environmental health in their entirety.” The series contains almost a full run of the Environmental Health Monthly, but is missing Volume 6 No. 1 and 10, Volume 9 No. 8-9 and 12, and Volume 10 No. 11.

    The series also contains Fact Packs from 1983 to 2000. These publications contain information on specific subjects related to environmental and health concerns, or company profiles. There are also Fact Packs on topics related to running a non-profit organization including working with lawyers and fundraising. These publications were sold via mail-order to interested members. Also contained in this series are books written by CHEJ staff or contain information about CHEJ. Copies of many short-run publications like Health Care without Harm series, and Childproofing Our Communities Campaign primer, Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign, annual reports, and convention packets are also included in this series.

  8. Office Files, 1973-10-01-2011

    This series contains the office files from CHEJ’s main office and field offices in Virginia, Georgia, and Texas dating from 1975 to 2011. It contains contact sheets, event planning materials, financial documents, personnel files, evaluation forms, reports, meeting notes and agendas, job announcements and resumes, subject/topic specific files, memorandums, and correspondence. Main office records documents CHEJ’s administrative actions as an organization whereas field office files primarily document regional projects and activities. Some folders in this series are empty and if that is the case it is stated in the notes field at the item level.

    Main office files also include the organizing records from their science department and specific environmental campaigns. The science department, headed by Stephen Lester, dealt with research of environmental issues. Specific campaigns include Childproofing Our Communities, which made schools and communities aware of environmental threats affecting children, and short-term campaigns like Forgotten Faces, Children and Family Stress Project, and BE SAFE. Another ongoing project was the Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign and additional information about this project can be found in Series 21: Special Project Files.

    Field office files contain staff notes, reports, articles, newsletters, grant applications, subject files, and administrative records of that field office. When the field offices were closed in the early 1990s, records were boxed and shipped to the main CHEJ office where they remained untouched until transfer to the DCA.

    Individual creators include Barbara Sullivan at the main office, Ron Davis and Renee Blanchard in the science department, Cynthia Smith at the Georgia field office who later transferred to the main office, Pam Stone at the Texas field office, and Pete Cattelli at the Virginia field office.

  9. Convention Files, 1987-1997

    This series contains files pertaining to Grassroots Conventions held by CHEJ in 1989, 1993, and 1997. The files are organized by convention date and contain registration forms, correspondence, agendas, planning notes, and drafts of speeches and papers. Conventions were events planned and executed by CHEJ staff and attended by members and citizens interested in environmental organizing. Workshops were given based on topics and organizing strategies. This series also contains 2 banners, 5 flip-chart pages and electronic files from the 1997 convention.

  10. Lois Gibbs' Files, 1979-2006

    This series contains Lois Gibbs’ files as pertains to her work as a member of CHEJ’s Board of Directors and as the Executive Director from 1979 to 2006. Records include board meeting minutes, CHEJ memoranda, correspondence, technical research files, congressional testimonies, speeches, and budget information.

    Records relating to Lois Gibbs’ Love Canal efforts and her activities as a board member on the Environmental Support Center, Love Canal Medical Fund Trust, and LEAF were moved to the Lois Gibbs’ Love Canal papers (MS063), also held by the DCA. Lois Gibbs legacy files, acquired in 1995 and originally part of the CHEJ collection, were also moved to MS063.

  11. Board Files, 1984-10-14-2008-05

    This series contains the Board of Directors meeting minutes, notes, and associated documentation from 1984 to 2008. Also included are yearly financial statements and audit reports from 1985 to 2007. Access is restricted for 20 years from date of creation. Specific folders may have additional restrictions.

  12. Stephen Lester Files, 1966-2007-02-01

    This series contains the files of Stephen Lester, Science Director at CHEJ. The files contain correspondence, articles, legal documents, scientific reports, and analysis and notes on hazardous waste sites from 1979 to 2001. It also contains notes from scientific advisory committees from 1989 to 2004.

    The first group within the series contains technical reports and test results on hazardous waste sites arranged alphabetically by state. These technical reports were predominantly sent to the science department, led by Stephen Lester, by citizens concerned with hazardous sites in their communities. CHEJ assessed reports, test results and techniques in order to provide more information and clear explanations to community activists for their local efforts.

    The latter group of files within the series contains Lester’s records from his time serving on scientific advisory and peer review committees with the Natural Resource Council of the National Academy of Sciences. These committees include the Subcommittee on Acute Exposure Guideline Levels, the Subcommittee on Fluoride in Drinking Water, Committee on Intrinsic Remediation of Contaminants in Subsurface Environments, Committee on Assessment of Risk from Remediation of PCB-Contaminated Sediment, Committee on Sediment Dredging at Superfund Megasites, and the Subcommittee on Zinc-Cadmium Sulfide. The files include the committee agendas and binders that were given to members, Lester’s notes and research files on chemical compounds, drafts of committee reports and some memos and correspondence about meeting times and locations.

  13. Hazardous Waste Site Files, 1980-1993

    This series contains information pertaining to Hazardous Waste Sites across territories monitored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The series begins with files relating to hazardous waste sites outlined by the EPA, alphabetized by state. These files date from 1974-2004 and include Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) print outs, National Priorities Lists (NPL), Title III documentation, Potential Responsible Parties (PRP) lists, as well as correspondence, general transactions and site information. The last two boxes contain a printout of the EPA’s Potential Responsible Parties National Priorities list from November 12, 1990, and a 1993 print out of the CERCLIS list alphabetized by state.

  14. Special Project Files, 1970-2011-11-01

    This series contains technical reports, handbooks, program development plans, conference organization records, personal notes, and media training kits pertaining to CHEJ’s special projects from 1970-2011. Special projects and topics include government clean up reports, advanced treatment and emerging technologies reports and company fliers, and copies of Bad Boy State laws as requested by CHEJ from government organizations circa 1989-1991. Victim’s compensation topic files cover laws, lawsuits won and lost, conferences, meetings and trainings relating to the topic of victims of hazardous environments and environmental disasters. The medical and hazardous waste topic was part of a partnership with Health Care without Harm, a subsidiary of CHEJ which later became its own organization. Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign was a long-term media awareness project from 1993-2002. Efforts included strategic planning for community organizations, media training, the book Dying from Dioxin, congressional testimonies, public hearings, policy recommendations, and tours to inform the public about the environmental and health effects of Dioxin. Additional information about the Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign can be found in Series 9: Office files.

Access and Use

Some of the records in this collection are restricted. See the DCA's General Policy on Access for more information about access to records.

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. Please see the DCA's policy on Copyright and Fair Use for more information.

Administrative Notes

Processing Notes

In MS001.002: Main Issue Files, a few folders of “to be filed” are included at the end of this series. These were originally found in the final drawer of the filing cabinets. We filed those articles that were already labeled but maintained articles that had been arbitrarily grouped in folders. These folders have been recycled and their titles do not pertain to their contents.

In MS001.003: Library Materials, published books that could be easily found in a library were weeded. However, books published by CHEJ or that included mention of or writing by the organization were kept. Second copies are noted when grouped together and triplicate copies were weeded. Publications were placed in folders when they were small and could be easily overlooked among the larger sized publications.

For MS001.004: General Correspondence, boxes arrived with two state runs which were interfiled as there was no distinction in content. Additional contact sheets can be found within folders in series 9, office files.

Additional material was found in other series and added to the end of MS001.005: Corporate Files.

In MS001.006: Mini-Grant Files, select files contain personal financial information and should be reviewed before access is granted.One grant application was found in series 13, Stephen Lester's files. It is outside the bulk date of the series and may be connected to future accessions.

For MS001.008: Publications, the DCA holds multiple copies of all regular publications, including all holdings of their three primary publications available in the DCA reading room. If slides and photo negatives were attached to proof paper, the originals were photocopied to maintain their arrangement and originals were placed in archival sleeves within folders

MS001.009: Office Files came to the DCA in two accessions. Some boxes contain material from a single creator which is noted in the box title. DCA staff arranged materials by office of origin. The decision was made not to arrange at the folder level because any imposed order would have destroyed contextual information.

In MS001:010: Convention Files, banners and flip chart pages are housed in map cases and the contents of the electronic files were removed from portable media and migrated to more stable file formats. Some files were not able to be read and these are noted in the item records.

In MS001.012: Board Files, the DCA staff imposed chronological arrangement at the folder level.

For MS001.013: Stephen Lester Files, the hazardous waste site files came in two separate state runs that, upon discussion with Lester, were compiled into one. Future accessions may contain further state runs. The NAS files are arranged alphabetically by committee topic and chronologically within topic. Any NAS subject folders discussed at the meeting are filed before the binder and notes of that meeting.

In MS001.016: Hazardous Waste Site files, printouts and documents were housed in appropriate folders for preservation.



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