CUB History & Archives

The short version:

Unlimited access for one year to materials on CUB's History Channel is available to all who Join Us (see tab). You will appreciate this offer whether you are an interested individual, a student, an academic,a member of the press, a legislator, or a researcher.
The collection includes:
(a) early CUB-affiliated research that was published in professional journals;
(b) early 1980 surveys completed by 243 birthparents on their pregnancy, surrender and reunion experience; and, going back to 1976;
(c) newsletters and
(d) educational materials. Peruse these materials to see what's different, what's never changed, and the work that remains. While viewing the CUB History Channel is highly encouraged, quoting from the material is not allowed without permission. For permissions, contact: Lee Campbell at


A few years ago we kicked off the “CUB History Project.” We called it “CHiP” to keep it short, and then the CUB History Channel. It is a work in progress and we welcome your participation in making our history 21 century digitized.
We urge EVERYONE who has EVER been in touch with CUB to join our archeological dig. We need to unearth as many scraps of paper and audio-visual records as possible which have passed between CUB and its Board, CUB and its members, CUB and its organizational friends, and CUB and Jane and John Q. Public. When we receive these treasures, we will oversee their care. We will log each item, attribute you as its source, write a description, scan (if we can afford it) and hold digitized scans aloft on a “cloud.” Access to this cloud will be through CUB’s website. This e-gateway will be forever open to you, CUB alums, new CUB members, historians, social science researchers, lawyers, legislators, writers, reporters and more. The original items you contribute will be shipped to a university archive. Both Harvard University’s Schlessinger Library (which already holds some CUB materials) and the University of Minnesota are interested. A university archive accredits our work and doubles the access to scholars and such. Your freshly unearthed contribution to CUB’s history will get the spotlight it deserves and, in this new way and day, it can help to make real things happen “tomorrow”!


Aldous Huxley has said that if we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it.
It has been a little frustrating to get lasting traction on CUB’s mission. We want to help you and other adoption-separated people to heal, to find people you hold dear, and, through this process, to learn all you and others can about yourselves so you can tap whatever personal potential you discover. However, our mission has too often been stymied by a spinning of our organizational wheels. Getting a good headway of steam can even be downright sad; for example, when the necessary and ever-welcome infusion of newcomers’ spectacular energy gets wasted.
Without a history to guide them, some newcomers re-invent the same wheels to which veteran reformers have long put their shoulders. Questions from newcomers are amazing ways to see things with fresh eyes. Repeated questions can be good too, since they can help everyone become even clearer. But going over, and over again, the same territory can sometimes result in perfectly good wheels getting stuck in muck.
Take the term “birthparent”, for one tiny example. Wouldn’t you appreciate it if speculation about where the term really came from was settled once and for all? Not to change your own preference, mind you. But, like President Obama’s birth certificate, to have the distraction over with. Buried in CUB’s scattered history are answers to that question as well as answers to 35 years of other important questions . . . on more terms and language, on legislation, on ways to support and care for yourself and others, and on and on. CUB has a rich history and none of us has the full story. Each of us only has pieces of the puzzle we found during the time frame we were active. We need to piece together this history.
Here’s another “why.” It’s consistent with what CUB is all about. We hope that birthparents dignify their birth experience, that adoptees re-claim their wholeness, that adoptive parents honor what came before they entered the scene, that the laws and practices of our culture reflect for adoption-separated people the same equality beginning to be offered to others who are in, say, a racial or sexual minority. A true and accurate “birth record” is protection. It prevents revisionist history by others who may otherwise misrepresent us and even by those who were there and think, wrongly but understandably, they remember it perfectly. CUB’s very existence is driven by an appreciation for connection. We value individuals’ pasts. Yet, CUB has been curiously (if you think about it) disconnected from our own. Good news is, it’s not too late to walk our own talk. We want to proudly put our history Out There, warts and all, so everyone can be properly awed, can learn from, and can participate more fully in where we go from here.
At the 2011 CUB Retreat, the CUB Board discussed the need to get our history together. Coincidentally/providentially/weirdly(?), several hundred miles away, at about the same time, Lee Campbell, CUB’s founder, decided to retire from more than 27 years of college teaching. Burned out, she looked forward to unscheduled time with books and bon-bons. That is, until Wayne Carp, author of a forthcoming book about Jean Paton (a “grandmother” to the entire adoption reform movement), sent a draft of some of his work to Lee. Lee was struck by all that Jean Paton had kept over the years. Jean had kept every letter. Every book. Every everything she had ever held in her hands!
Lee had done the opposite. Although she wrote an unpublished memoir, eventually everything else was tossed. When Steve Jobs died, Lee realized she had even discarded correspondence she had had with the quirky and cranky Jobs. Lee also remembered that her friend, longtime CUB member and activist, Sandy Musser, had kicked all her stuff to the literal curb, but not before giving Lee yet another chance to claim it, which Lee dissed. Only Gail Hanssen Perry, Lee’s “right hand” Back in the Day and packrat extraordinaire, still had some CUB materials in her attic. At BJ Lifton’s funeral, Lee learned that Phyllis Silverman, co-author with Lee and Trish Patti of scholarly research they had published, had also held onto hundreds of the original completed surveys.
Inspired by Jean, and given some hope by Gail and Phyllis, Lee wrote the current CUB Board to see if they shared an interest in closing the gap in CUB’s history. We did! We promptly named Lee Campbell our Curator.
Lee can commit through June 30, 2012. That period seems like enough time to sense what we will be able to gather. If the floodgates unclog our history, Lee is open to renew her commitment.
Already we have discovered some caches of CUB materials. Gail Hanssen Perry has donated 52 pounds from her attic’s storage. Karen Vedder has sent some. So has Mary Lou Cullen. The Schlessinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe has a slew of stuff that was sent from CUB in the year 2000. Triadoption Library has some more. A few others have come forward. We are in the process of identifying what is where so we can learn what we still need to get our hands on. Toward this goal, Lee has created a tentative “Wish List,” or email Lee for latest updates at (

Bottom line:

CUB’s CHiP is “ready” – with this announcement, we call out “set” – and, now . . . it’s time for all of us to take off!

But where can you go? What can you do? Words of encouragement are always nice. But we can be more specific, too:
  1. Scour your memory. What documents (form letters, personal letters, Retreat agendas, materials, more) have you held in your hands from CUB at any point in time? For inspiration, check out the Wish List on CUB’s website ( or write to Lee ( Email us your recollections. Watch the Wish List grow and change.)
  2. Scour your attic, basement, bureau drawer linings, cobwebby file drawers. Email us descriptions of what you have found.
  3. Help create a network of possible “archivers.” Who do you know who might have some CUB stuff? Pass along this announcement or share their contact info with us. And:
  4. Consider a donation dedicated to this worthy project (you knew we would at least ask!).
You now know we value the legacies of both birthfamilies and our own CUB family. We can see in retrospect we could have been better stewards of our past. You may have held onto CUB stuff because you are a packrat (bless you!). Or CUB stuff may still be in your care because it holds sentimental value (maybe we can make copies?). Meanwhile, please know in advance that we treasure the time and trouble you may spend in each of your possible hidey-holes!

On behalf of the CUB Board,
Mary Lou Cullen, CUB past president
Lee Campbell, CUB Curator
Mary Anne Cohen, CHiP Committee Member & Current Board Secretary
Patty Collings, CHiP Committee Member & Current Board President