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Social Health Association of Central Indiana Records

Identifier: MSS050

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the papers of the Social Hygiene Association of Central Indiana from 1919-2014. There are few records before 1938. The collection does not contain any patient information from the Public Health Center nor any personal papers of the directors.

The Board of Directors Records, 1939-2014, consists of mainly annual meeting materials, annual reports, and board and committee meeting minutes, including incomplete board minutes from 1939-1956. The Annual Reports, while incomplete, give a good summary of the activities and accomplishments of the organization.

The Administrative Records, 1919-2011, contains the organization’s articles of incorporation, by-laws, constitution, mission statements, correspondence, membership drive records, strategic planning materials, and financial records. It also includes SHA histories, along with a copy of the Noraleen Young's published history of the organization. There are also subseries with the files of former board member Melissa Reese, records regarding the United Way of Central Indiana’s support of the SHA, and materials on donations and fundraising.

The Publications Records, 1940-2012, consists of articles, clippings, scrapbooks, pamphlets, and handouts. The bulk of the series contains articles and clipping files arranged by topic, including topics such as pregnancy, parenting, sexuality, STDs, abortion, abstinence, and family life. The Scrapbook subseries contains the contents of scrapbooks from 1964, ca. 1960s, and 1971. The assembler of these scrapbooks is unknown. There are also the contents of one large scrapbook titled "National Publicity, Sex Education Controversy, 1967-1970-1971-1972." It was compiled by the Social Health Association of Indianapolis and Marion County and contains clippings from national newspapers.

The Program Materials Records, 1947-2011, contains information on local programs like Indianapolis Campaign for Healthy Babies, materials from the At Your School (AYS) program, program statistics, school program scheduling, and student questions and evaluations. Many of the files deal with aiding schools in creating sex education programs, such as program lists for several years and samples of student questionnaires. This series also contains a subseries of records from Pike Township, which includes the materials used in the development of the sex education plan for use in the Pike Township schools from 1967-1970. This also includes surveys, completed plans for 1967-1970, and papers and correspondence from the parent advisory committee between 1967-1969. There are also litigation records from the lawsuit filed by several Pike Township parents. There are numerous news clippings about the sex education programs in Pike Township and similar controversies in other states in the news clippings and scrapbooks in the publications series.

The Teaching Materials Records, 1967-2009, consists of handouts, lesson plans for various grade levels, worksheets, and materials used in the classroom such as signs, flash cards, booklets, and brochures. Most of these files deal with classroom instruction, but some also deal with aiding parents in discussing sex with their children. This includes sample programs and brochures, sex education packets that complement the classroom materials, video and written material sold or loaned by the SHA, and a "Do-It-Yourself At Home" Sex Education Flash Cards set.

The Workshops & Conferences Records, 1947-2010, contains educational materials that were distributed to conference/workshop participants, as well as materials used in specific workshops. This includes educational materials used in workshops held at Butler University, Indiana University, and IUPUI, more general materials used in participants' packets for other workshops, a few materials from older workshops, and materials from school nurses’ workshops and conferences. Workshop materials were designed for the needs of the participants and included materials prepared for children, parents, and education professionals.

The Audio Materials Records contains 27 reel-to-reel tapes consisting of advertisements, radio broadcasts and class instruction.


  • 1919 - 2014


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Historical Note

The Social Health Association of Central Indiana began as the Anti-Syphilis League of Indiana, an organization created in 1938 by Lydia Woollen Ritchey and Nell Herrington of Indianapolis, who responded to the American Social Health Association's call for community education. Both women were active in local women's organizations, first by assisting infected women to get to the City Hospital Clinics, and then more broadly, in educating the public about venereal disease. While they were able to attract board members from fairly prominent places around Indiana, the name and subject matter hindered the organization's ability to raise funds. Thus, in 1939, the organization changed its name to the Indiana Social Hygiene Association (ISHA).

In effect, the ISHA served as a coordinator between education professionals, political and legal authorities, and medical professionals. In this way, it could accomplish its mission which included: the eradication of venereal diseases through educating the public about the subject and about appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior; ridding society of prostitution and vice, which contributed to the proliferation of sexually-transmitted diseases; and controlling the spread of the diseases with up-to-date medical knowledge.

In 1942, the ISHA again changed its name because of its difficulty in raising funds. This time community foundations such as the Indianapolis Foundation and the Indianapolis Community Fund questioned the statewide focus of the organization. Thus, ISHA changed its name to the Indianapolis Social Hygiene Association. The funding it received from the Indianapolis Community Fund firmly established the Indianapolis Social Health Association as a formal social agency. Between 1943 and 1960, almost the entire funding for the organization came from the Indianapolis Community Fund.

In 1943, the organization hired Roberta West Nicholson as executive director and began to operate out of Indianapolis Public Health. Under Nicholson's leadership for the next seventeen years, ISHA's educational efforts continued. In 1944, the Indianapolis Social Hygiene Association purchased the Public Health Center, which treated individuals with venereal disease. Its mission was further defined as battling "commercialized" prostitution, which was considered a criminal activity and sex delinquency (minors involved in sexual activity), promoting sound knowledge of sex and high standards of conduct in matters of sex, and working towards protecting and improving the institution of marriage and the family. ISHA’s board members during this period represented the medical profession, business and government, and the social service sector. The organization coordinated the efforts of each of these groups to achieve its goals.

By 1945, however, with the introduction of penicillin to treat venereal disease, the numbers of cases declined and the organization began to focus on education. By 1947, the Indianapolis Social Hygiene Association targeted health-care and education professionals, as well as the general public (particularly parents), with workshops.

Two years later, the demand for education was so intense that Nicholson, the only staff person with the organization, established a training course to prepare others to lead such workshops. ISHA's firm belief in the importance of family life education led to the introduction of Family Living classes at several high schools to target youth directly. In 1949, the organization also began showing of a new sex education film to sixth through eighth grade students. During this period, the organization adapted to society and community changes by shifting its primary goal to strengthening family life, focusing on education for successful marriages and responsible parenthood. While the fight against venereal disease did not end, they sought to help community agencies working to hold families together and emphasized a "wholesome community life." The Public Health Center closed in 1953 and a number of agencies established to combat venereal disease were discontinued or disbanded. By the end of the 1950s, as the Indianapolis Department of Public Health began to report a steady increase in venereal disease among young people, ISHA continued its outreach educational programs, targeting the young at earlier ages and in a more consistent manner. Sex education, however, particularly with children and in the school system, generated much controversy.

The 1960s began with the resignation of Nicholson, the selection of Elizabeth Noland Jackson as her replacement, and a name change to the Indianapolis Social Health Association (SHA); by 1962 it was known as the Social Health Association of Indianapolis and Marion County. Elizabeth Jackson, who was trained as a sex education teacher, and the SHA began to develop a systematic approach to sex education for the public as well as the school system. In 1965, Pike Township, with the SHA consulting, established a formal sex education plan for children beginning in the first grade. By 1969, SHA was embroiled in the controversy and litigation that followed. In 1970, however, the four Pike Township parents who began the litigation dropped the lawsuit at the suggestion of Judge John E. Sedwick, who was presiding over the case. Since the school system revised the sex education plan each year, Judge Sedwick explained that he would be ruling on a plan (1969 plan) that no longer existed. The suit was dismissed.

The focus of SHA continued to be sex education as a way to promote stable family life in the 1970s through the 1990s. Jackson resigned in 1974, and in 1976, as the organization developed programs that went beyond Marion County, the name changed to the Social Health Association of Central Indiana to reflect its expansion. Between the 1970s and 1990s, Mary Hall Bond, Linda Weiland, and Nancy Haskell served as executive directors. The rise in teen-age pregnancies and the rising publicity about herpes and AIDS served to clarify SHA's focus and concentration on providing sex education within Central Indiana.

The agency changed its name to Social Health Association of Indiana in 2000. In the 2000s, its focus shifted to puberty education, internet safety, and bullying prevention. In 2018, it became LifeSmart Youth, Inc. and focused on helping youth make informed choices through health and behavior education.


20.4 Cubic Feet (20 cartons, 1 document case, 27 reel-to-reel tapes, and 2 VHS)


The Social Health Association of Central Indiana began as the Anti-Syphilis League of Indiana in 1938. Its purpose was to eradicate venereal diseases, particularly syphilis and gonorrhea, and the conditions which contributed to its proliferation. In 1939, the name was changed to the Indiana Social Hygiene Association. In 1943, their mission included the eradication of venereal diseases; the battle against prostitution and sexual delinquency; the promotion of sex education and appropriate sexual behavior; and the support of family and marriage relations. As the organization's focus evolved, it underwent a name change to the Social Health Association of Indianapolis and Marion County, and in the 1960s, became more involved in sex education, developing materials for elementary and secondary schools and education professionals. In 1976, the name changed to the Social Health Association of Central Indiana as it began to develop programs for areas outside of Marion County. In the 1980s, the organization added AIDS education to its curriculum and in the 1990s it added “Life Skills” education. The agency changed its name to Social Health Association of Indiana in 2000; in the 2000s its focus shifted to puberty education, internet safety, and bullying prevention. In 2018, it became LifeSmart Youth, Inc. and focused on health and behavior education.

The collection consists of board of directors and committee minutes, administrative records, publications, program materials, sex education plans, teaching materials, and audio materials including class instruction, advertisements and radio broadcasts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Social Health Association of Central Indiana, 1995 and 2014. A95-54, M117, A2014/15-012.

Related Materials

Oral Histories of Roberta West Nicholson and Helen Daniels located in the Indiana State Library Oral History Collection; LifeSmart Youth.


  • Young, Noraleen A., "To Protect and Improve the Institution of Marriage and the Family, The Social Health Association of Central Indiana, Fifty Years of Continuous Service," (SHA, 1993).
  • LifeSmart Youth, Inc. website:


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Social Health Association of Central Indiana Records, 1919-2014
Processed by Brenda L. Burk.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA