The Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project at UNH

History of The Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project is a national awareness initiative that was started by a group of women in the 1990s who wanted to give survivors and their friends and family members a voice about their abuse. 

The idea of the Clothesline came from old practices. Years ago, when women were often at home and handling the laundry, going outside to hang up clothes on the clothesline became a social gathering of sorts.  Women in neighboring yards used this time and space to talk to one another about their lives. It was sometimes the only space where women could disclose things that were happening to them to other women.

Today, the project serves as a way for survivors and their loved ones to share their stories, express their feelings, and raise awareness around interpersonal violence (IPV). Survivors and their family and friends are encouraged to design a t-shirt in any way they choose- some choose to share their stories, write poetry, draw pictures or symbols attached to their story or their healing journey. Some shirts offer words of encouragement and hope to other survivors. 

Since its early beginnings, the Clothesline Project has become a national campaign. Across the country, many crisis centers, college campuses, and other organizations have taken part in bringing awareness around the issues of IPV. 

The Clothesline Project at UNH

For many years in New Hampshire, the Clothesline Project was an annual statewide event put on by the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program. The project displayed shirts from crisis centers across the state on the statehouse lawn in Concord every April. Following the statehouse display, the shirts were then move to Colby-Sawyer College where all shirts from years prior are displayed. At the latter event, the shirts numbered into the thousands.

Today, SHARPP hosts the Clothesline Project multiple times throughout the academic year. This is a traveling awareness campaign that at times, occurs during our awareness months, or can be a pop up program in a residential hall, student organization, or classroom. We also display this project virtually via our social media platforms. Most in-person Clothesline Project displays will also ensure an opportunity for UNH community members to make their own t-shirts to add to our collection. T-shirts displayed at UNH are all made by students, faculty and staff members of years past dating back to 2002.

Scheduling a Clothesline Project Display + T-Shirt Making Workshop

All members of the UNH community are invited to attend our Clothesline Project display and/or t-shirt making workshop. No registration required. SHARPP provides all materials. We will also have a t-shirt display for your viewing at our workshops. Contact us here if you would like to schedule a workshop for your classroom or organization through our request a program page.