Skip to this page's content

Exhibits

The College Archives Honors Betsy McCandless and the Clothesline Project

The College Archives Honors Betsy McCandless and the Clothesline Project

Simmons student Elizabeth "Betsy" McCandless was a strong woman whose story ended tragically when her abusive husband murdered her in 1992. The Simmons College Archives was given Betsy's detailed diaries showing her struggle and her bravery. Some of the exhibit displays moving passages from her journal, as well as many articles about her death, how the "system failed to save her," and how her brother Steve committed himself to promoting awareness of domestic violence.

In 1993, the Betsy McCandless Memorial Fund Committee at Simmons became the first alumni group in the Greater Boston area to bring the Clothesline Project to a college campus. The Clothesline Project uses T-shirts of different colors hung on a clothesline to honor and memorialize victims of relationship violence. The t-shirts are decorated by victims or loved ones of victims of domestic violence with powerful statements, poetry or design. They are strategically displayed on a clothesline in a high-traffic area of the College. This display serves to make public the often private, painful, and socially silenced and stigmatized experiences of the victims.

The Clothesline Project has become an annual event at Simmons that is observed in support of the fight against violence. Betsy's brother, Steve McCandless, continues to attend this special event every year since the inaugural in 1993 and has since become an active member of the Simmons community. Steve McCandless has been on the Board of Trustees at Simmons since 2001 and continues to extend both time and financial support to the cause of the Betsy's Friends program.

T-Shirts are color-coded in the following way::

· Yellow or Beige - For people who have been battered or assaulted
· Red, Pink, or Orange - For people who have been raped or sexually assaulted
· Blue or Green - For survivors of incest or child abuse
· Purple or Lavender - For people attacked because of their sexual orientation
· White- For people who have died due to violence

Each shirt is decorated to represent a person's experience of rape, incest, battery, or homophobia; or as a tribute to someone who has been murdered. The shirts are decorated by the survivors themselves or by their loved ones. This display serves to make public the often private, painful, and socially silenced and stigmatized experiences of the victims.