NHPRC Grant Completed!

6 Nov

Dateline San Francisco, March 31, 2013

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society is pleased to announce that at the end of March, we completed a project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) (http://www.archives.gov/nhprc/). The basic processing project, “Hidden from History: Accessing the GLBT Past” resulted in a survey of over 500 manuscript collections and the processing of over 500 linear feet of materials related to more than 75 years of GLBT history. We updated nearly 600 catalog records and added 81 new finding aids to the Historical Society website and/or the Online Archive of California. Finding aids from the project can be viewed here:


Researchers can also search for collections here:


We also wrote – and have implemented – a formal deaccessioning policy.

Collections that were processed or partially processed with NHPRC funds include the papers of community historians Allan Bérubé and Eric Garber, artist and curator Adrienne Fuzee, World War II veteran Helen Harder, community activist John E. Teamer and bisexual activist/sexologist Maggi Rubenstein. Newly processed organizational records include materials from Community United Against Violence, various chapters of Black and White Men/Men of All Colors Together, the Wide Open Town History Project, the Filipino Task Force on AIDS, and women-owned businesses like the Bay Brick Inn and the Oracle Feminist Bookstore.

These collections document personal relationships, professional lives and cultural phenomena. Topics covered include the homophile movement and gay liberation; transgender rights; sports; religion and spirituality; racial politics; art, music and literature; the leather community; military history; and the history of AIDS and AIDS activism. These collections contain photographs, audiovisual materials and artifacts as well as manuscript materials.

We are very excited that these collections are now more accessible for research, and we are grateful to NHPRC for their support. If you have any questions about these collections or the project, please feel free to contact the managing archivist at reference@glbthistory.org


Ernest Posey notebooks, a new collection!

20 Nov

Born in New Orleans, Ernest Posey earned a degree in Fine Arts from Louisiana State University and a degree in architecture from Tulane. In the 1970s Ernest moved to Mendocino County, where he bought a small cabin and a working studio. In the fall of 2007, Ernest was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and passed away shortly thereafter.

Posey’s estate has donated a series of journals to the GLBT Historical Society in which Ernest drew sketches, mockups of art installations, wrote dream descriptions and kept various ephemera from his daily life. The journals span 1968 to 2007, and are a fascinating glance into the creative life and work of Ernest Posey.

The collection is open for research at the GLBT Historical Society. In addition, the estate of Ernest Posey has created a website where you may view selections of Ernest’s artwork, and read a biography.

Silvia Kohan (1948-2003)

22 Mar

Silvia Kohan was an Argentinian-Jewish lesbian singer and songwriter. She was known for her big voice, flamboyant costumes and showy stage presence. Her family emigrated from Argentina in 1957 when she was ten years old, and she learned English by singing show tunes. Her only commercial album, “Finally Real,” was produced by George Winston and released in 1984. Her best known original song was called “Fat Girl Blues.” The collection contains journals; scrapbooks; correspondence and e-mails; photographs that date back to her childhood; music and lyrics; publicity materials; DVDs and audio recordings of her music, performances, and life; materials from her memorial; and costumes. Kohan toured with the group Up with People for five years, starting in 1965 (the year the revue formed) and we found these great photos in her collection.

Some text for this post was taken from  Lineage: Matchmaking in the Archive, a project created by  GLBT Historical Society Board member and Artist-in-Residence E.G. Crichton. Crichton  asked artists to respond creatively to the archive of a deceased individual. She matched Kohan with writer, musician and performer Nomy Lamm. For more on Lamm’s performance piece, see http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/Lineage/Lamm2.html

Can you help us identify this item?

15 Mar

We found this small hand-drawn booklet of cartoons in a carton with other miscellaneous materials. Can anyone help us figure out what it is so we can catalog it?

“Dear funny blond[e] kid”

8 Mar

I just finished processing the Eric Garber papers (1996-20) and have to say that I was quite charmed by him. Garber was an activist, writer and historian. He was one of the founding members of the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay History Project and a founder of the Historical Society. His interests were broad, ranging from LGBT people in the Harlem Renaissance to alternative sexualities in science fiction, fantasy and horror literature, and his expertise in those subjects was nationally recognized. His better known works include T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Homosexuality in Harlem in the 1920s; the annotated bibliography, Uranian Worlds: A Reader’s Guide to Alternative Sexuality in Science Fiction and Fantasy, which he edited with Lyn Paleo; and Swords of the Rainbow, an anthology he edited with Jewelle Gomez.

Garber corresponded with a who’s who of writers and historians interested in LGBT life and letters, and his papers document the growing interest in and growth of the fields of LGBT history and literatary studies. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence, writings, his very thorough biographical and subject research files, materials from the History Project and Historical Society and its members, personalia and photographs. Garber’s BAR obituary notes that he was “passionately commited to gay liberation and ending all forms of oppression.” His collection reveals that he was a dedicated activist and scholar with many good friends who seemed to enjoy life and have a lot of fun.


“I’ve Never Regretted Anything” — World War II Vet, Helen Harder

1 Mar

That quote was taken from the oral history interview Helen Harder did with historian Allan Bérubé for his World War II History Project.  Born in 1918, Harder (nee Eleanor F. Sugg) was a flight instructor in the Women’s Army Corps (WACS). After the war she worked in factories and canneries (among other jobs) before earning her teaching credentials and becoming an elementary school teacher. Harder was interested in spirituality and wrote a number of small essays on the subject. She also helped organize a NOW chapter in rural Nevada in the early 1980s. Harder died in 1984 in the Bay Area. Her collection is a rich documentation of her life and includes correspondence, lots of cool photographs, poetry and prose, fragments of a memoir, materials regarding her military service and NOW, financial records, ephemera, audiotapes and some personalia. Most of the photographs are unlabeled, and it would be great fo find someone who could identify the subjects!

A transcript of her oral history interview can be viewed at http://www.glbthistory.org/research/oh/Harder_Helen5-1982_web.pdf

The Many Faces of John Teamer

23 Feb

The John Teamer papers (2005-04) document the life of a gay African American public high school science teacher and civil rights and AIDS activist who was born in Asheville, North Carolina and lived most of his adult life in San Francisco. The collection is especially rich in documentation of Teamer’s involvement in the National Association of Black and White Men Together (NABWMT), and his life as a gay man in San Francisco from the 1970s to the 1990s. Teamer served on the Boards of many organizations, including the Black Coalition on AIDS and the Gay-Lesbian Tennis Association. His papers include organizational records; personal correspondence; photographs of friends, family and events that date back to the 1940s; and personalia, including his high school and college yearbooks. Of particular interest are photographs, correspondence and ephemera from Teamer’s time in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, from 1963-1965. A very small portion of the collection documents the political activities of Teamer’s partner of 12 years, Michael C. Foo (1944-2004). Here are a few glimpses into John Teamer’s life.

“La Familia Duca”

16 Feb

The Guy Duca photographs and ephemera (2001-10) document the life and family history of Italian-American hairdresser and entrepreneur, Gaetano “Guy” Duca (1936-1989). Duca was from Philadelphia but lived in San Francisco for 25 years before succumbing to AIDS. The family photos in his collection date back to at least 1919 and feature “La Familia Duca” (taken directly from the captions on the back of Guy’s photos) in Italy and Philadelphia. There are also lots of photographs from Guy Duca’s Navy days. Here are some of our favorite snapshots of Guy and his friends and family.

Allan Berube Papers processed!

9 Feb Allan riding a bicycle, ca. 1950

The GLBT Historical Society is happy to announce the opening of the Allan Berube Papers (#1995-17).  The finding aid can be viewed at:

Allan Berube was a historian, scholar, teacher and activist who devoted much of his life to researching history to better the world surrounding him. His archival collection, now available to access at the GLBTHS in San Francisco, encompasses his personal and professional life, offering a wide perspective on his life and work.

Allan was born in 1946. In the early 1950s, when Allan was a child, his family moved to Bayonne, New Jersey to the Sunset Trailer Park. Growing up in a working-class family, Allan had early insights into how class and race shaped and influenced the world around him.

Allan riding a bicycle, ca. 1950

Allan riding a bicycle, ca. 1950

The author of a well-known and influential book about gays in the military, “Coming Out Under Fire”, Allan began writing early in life, filling school notebooks with stories and poems. The poem below was written by Allan in the early 1960s, and is among other examples of early creative writing available to view in his collection.

Poem by Allan, ca. 1960-1964

Poem by Allan, ca. 1960-1964

Allan had many varied interests and talents, one of which was weaving. He taught classes in weaving and the creation of hats, and even made his own natural dyes from plants.

Weavings by, and modeled by Allan.

Weavings by, and modeled by Allan.

In 1983 Allan met British biochemist Brian Keith at a leather bar. The two quickly became close partners, and lived together for several years. In 1986 Brian was diagnosed with AIDS, and his health deteriorated rapidly. Brian died in 1987. A small collection of his papers are a part of Allan’s archival collection.

Brian Keith

Brian Keith

Allan scattering Brian's ashes

Allan scattering Brian's ashes

Allan devoted much of his life to understanding the history of the gay community. To share his findings, he wrote many articles, gave talks, and created illustrated slide shows which he presented to audiences throughout the country. An early slide show that gained much recognition was titled “Lesbian Masquerade” and told the story of women who had passed as men in the 19th and 20th centuries in San Francisco. His presentations were met with enthusiastic responses and helped to promote Allan’s work within the gay community, and beyond.

Lesbian Masquerade Flyer

Lesbian Masquerade Flyer

Allan spent many years working on a book about the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union, and in 1996 he was awarded the prestigious MacArthur award which allowed him to focus on his writing. Allan’s extensive research files, original oral histories, manuscript drafts and notes for this book are available for researchers at the GLBTHS.

MacArthur Award Letter

In the early 2000s, Allan moved to Liberty, New York, and became deeply involved in the local community. His writing stalled for several years while he joined the volunteer fire department, managed a local theater, helped to save historic buildings from demolition, and was elected twice as a Trustee of the Village of Liberty.

Snowman in Liberty, NY

Snowman in Liberty, NY

Allan Berube had a rich life devoted to the bettering of his community. He truly left the world a better place, and the GLBT Historical Society is pleased to offer his Papers to researchers and the public, so that his life, research and writings may continue to contribute many years many years from now. To make an appointment to use his collection, contact the Archivist.

Progress Report

27 Jan

We are into the beginning of the second year of the grant, and a lot has happened.  So far we have surveyed over 400 collections, about 1,300 linear feet, and have processed over 200 collections, which is over 350 linear feet.  Marjorie was very busy this past year!

With the survey Marjorie was able to dig into every box, and she collected information that we will end up using to update our collections catalog.  In our previous catalog we didn’t have consistent guidelines or standards, so the quality of the descriptions varied. We were recently able to locate an unpublished biography of Advocate publisher and gay rights advocate, David B. Goodstein, called “King of the Gays” for a patron. The manuscript was found in the Konstantin Berlandt Papers, and was only accessible because the description was enhanced during the survey.

Description before the survey:
Manuscripts of Berlandt and others, and scattered personal files.

Description after the survey:
This collection contains materials related to journalist and gay liberation activist, Konstantin Berlandt. Freelance journalist Berlandt was editor-in-chief of UC-Berkeley’s student newspaper, the “Daily Californian,” and author of the 1965 series on sexual minorities at Cal. The collection includes biographical materials; his high school yearbook; a diary; journalism and other writings by Berlandt;  typescripts of writings by other authors; and materials related to the estate and Trust of Morgan Pinney (Berlandt was one of three trustees). The Trust gave money to various LGBT causes. Pinney was an advocate of LGBT media and a former treasurer of the Gay and Lesbian Press Association. Included in Berlandt’s papers are a wealth of materials related to Pinney’s unpublished biography of “Advocate” publisher and gay rights advocate, David B. Goodstein, called “David: King of the Gays.”

Below are photos of Marjorie hard at work!