February 5, 2015

Since 2012, the archivists at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries have been hard at work on a project to make previously hidden collections available to the public for the first time. Thanks to a two-year project funded in part by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), we’re happy to announce that 225 archival collections—with over 1500 boxes of material—have been organized and cataloged and are now open for research.

The materials in these collections document the lives and work of countless individuals who broke new ground and paved a way for the LGBTQ community. These personal collections range from the 1940s/50s –including World War II letters between lesbian couple Esther Herbert and Marvyl Doyle, diaries and paintings from gay artist Sidney Bronstein, drawings from ONE Magazine writer and illustrator Joan Corbin, and recorded music from ONE founding member and dancer Tony Reyes—to contemporary trailblazers, such as bisexual activist John Soroczak, gay rapper Deadlee, and pioneering intersex activist Lynn Edward Harris.

 

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Sidney Bronstein, Unknown (Portrait of a man smiling), 1949. Watercolor on cardboard. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries

 

The collections provide a view into gay rights activism locally as well as across the nation. Gay rights activist William Koelsch’s papers reveal the gay rights movement in Boston in the 1970s and 1980s, while the papers of civil rights attorneys Thomas Coleman and Jay Kohorn detail the national battle for sexual civil liberties. Carolyn Weather’s photographs and papers document her work in women’s publishing and lesbian activism going back to the 1970s, and provide an amazing glimpse into gay life in Texas in the 1960s. And the Patricia Nell Warren collection uncovers the life’s work of a renowned human rights activist and celebrated author who wrote the 1974 bestseller The Front Runner.

 

 

Acc2011-038 Carolyn Weathers collection
Adrian Smart and Carolyn Weathers stand outside a barbershop. Spring 1963. Carolyn Weathers Photographs and Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries

 

Acc2011-038 Carolyn Weathers collection
S. Diane Bogus and Tritby Nelson of Women in the Moon (WIM) Publications. Carolyn Weathers Photographs and Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries

 

Photography and manuscript collections that have shaped views of sex and sexuality are also available for research. Collections from Falcon Studios and the Athletic Model Guild together reveal the evolution of studio-produced gay erotica over six decades. The Graphic Albums, Rick Herold, and Harold Dittmer collections include erotic collages that reveal the more private expressions of sexuality and queer identity. And Miles Everitt’s photographs of African American men are said to have been a major influence of Robert Mapplethorpe.

 

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Miles Everitt, Bishop, 1964. Stereoscopic negative, 2 x 4 inches. Miles Everitt Photographs. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries

 

Also available are the organizational records from dozens of institutions, several of which continue to serve the community after decades of work. Preserved at ONE are records and photographs from the Christopher Street West Association, documenting over 40 years of LA’s gay pride parade and celebrations; Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world’s first LGBT synagogue; Los Angeles Shanti Foundation, the first group in LA to provide direct services to people with AIDS; IMRU Radio, the longest running LGBT radio program; Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE), which organized the demonstrations following the Black Cat riot; and other transformative organizations, including North American Conference of Homophile Organizations, ONE in Long Beach, Committee Against the Briggs Initiative, Knights of the Clocks, Multi-Ethnic Gay and Lesbian Exchange, Outfest, New York City Radical Faeries, and the Stonewall Democratic Club.

These and many other collections are accessible thanks to the support of NHPRC and to the volunteers and students who have devoted hundreds of hours in support of the archives and this ambitious project. ONE Archives is truly grateful for their dedication in preserving and sharing the stories of our LGBTQ legacy.

 

Acc0000-071 Richard Silverthorn papers
Three drag queens pose for the camera, circa 1971-1974. Richard Jay Silverthorn Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries
Acc0000-071 Richard Silverthorn papers
Gay couple, possibly students from the University of Rochester, New York, sip from the same drink while holding hands, June 1971. Richard Jay Silverthorn Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries

 

Image: (Top) Patrons gather at Mary Ellen Mitchell’s Top Hat.The people facing the camera are (left to right) Anita, Trudy, Carolyn Weathers, Charles, and Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen was assigned as President of the “Un Cappa-Fu” society of which Carolyn Weathers was a member, Spring 1963. Carolyn Weathers Photographs and Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries