Archive | March, 2012

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


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