Week 2: Richmond, Roanoke, and Records (that were sealed)

What a week this has been. A good 15 hours on the road and many hundreds of miles later, I have interviewed two physicians, a Planned Parenthood administrator, a nurse practitioner, and a grassroots rep, spanning from Richmond to Roanoke to right here in Arlington.

I began the week reading through many of the materials I gathered from the Library of Congress last week, and making sure I was read up on the biographies of all the individuals I was meeting this week. Prepping for interviews was a more involved process than I had anticipated, including me learning how to work an old-school tape recorder and coming up with personalized questions for each individual.

I arrived in Richmond on Tuesday and visited the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records division…only to find out that all those records are sealed. Not sure how I failed to pick up on that on their website, but it was a good learning experience nonetheless. I spent the rest of the day interviewing two physicians who had founded one of Virginia’s first abortion clinics, and was amazed at how easily we were able to talk for several hours.

I spent the next day in Roanoke, interviewing at their Planned Parenthood and visiting a private clinic. It was very interesting to see the different demographics of Richmond and Roanoke over the course of just two days — Richmond is a very liberal area, whereas Roanoke is a notably more conservative one, and the socioeconomic populations of both are equally diverse. I look forward to more compare/contrast observations I will be able to make as research continues.

I have spent the remainder of this week transcribing interviews, reading through documents I was given in Richmond, and following up on leads given to me in both cities. I had an interview with a grassroots organization’s rep this morning, and am amazed at the thoughts and feelings expressed from all sides of this issue. I look forward to updating you more next week!


  1. nvhudsmith says:

    I am really excited about this project – especially the compiling of interviews. I’ll keep reading for updates; the interviews sound very interesting from both historical and medical stand points.