Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project was created in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1990, as a public awareness campaign to break the silence surrounding gender-based violence, while honoring the strength and resilience of victims and survivors. The project involves an installation of hand-decorated t-shirts suspended from clotheslines that represent personal experiences with violence and messages of strength. 

Each shirt is color-coded to represent a survivor's experience with sexual assault, incest, domestic violence, stalking, homophobia or transphobia.

Color- Coding Guide:

  • Yellow or Beige - For survivors who have been abused or assaulted
  • Red, Pink, or Orange - For survivors who have been raped or sexually assaulted
  • Blue or Green - For survivors of incest or child abuse
  • Purple or Lavender - For survivors of homophobia or transphobia, based on their sexuality or gender-identity
  • White- For people who have lost their lives to violence

With help from the Betsy McCandless Memorial Fund, Simmons College was the first to bring the Clothesline Project to the Greater Boston area in 1993.  The program was hosted in memory of alumna Elizabeth "Betsy" McCandless and others whose lives have been impacted or lost due to domestic violence and sexual assault. From that time on, Simmons has continued to hold the project annually, growing a large collection of symbolic t-shirts to display, accompanied by an evening of speakers who draw awareness to the issues of gender-based violence, and share Betsy's story in order to keep her memory alive.  

Betsy's brother, Steve McCandless, as well as some of Betsy's classmates continue to attend this special event every year.  Steve has dedicated his time and financial support to spreading awareness about gender-based violence within the Simmons community by funding the Betsy's Friends Peer Education Program.  He is also on the Simmons College Board of Trustees, where he has played a crucial role in supporting the College since 2001.

clothesline project

clothesline project