July 9, 2013

ONE Archives has joined with the GLBT Historical Society for a first-of-its-kind two-year processing collaboration funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources. This exciting project entitled Out West will join the two largest LGBTQ archives in the western United States to preserve and provide access to over 100 collections and 800 linear feet of historic LGBTQ records. These collections comprise some of the most important LGBTQ collections in California and the western United States, including two of the most import figures in the second half of the 20th century, José Sarria and Patricia Nell Warren.

Coll2008-010 Harold L. Call papers
José Sarria performs a drag show at the Black Cat Bar, San Francisco, c. early 1960s. Harold L. Call Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries

The José Sarria papers at the GLBT Historical Society documents one of the leading San Francisco figures in the early gay rights movement. Sarria worked as a waiter and entertainer at the Black Cat in the 1950s and early 1960s, where he gave elaborate performances of his self-styled drag opera parodies to packed crowds. At the height of his fame in 1961, he ran for a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, polling a startling 7,000 votes. In the mid-1960s, Sarria established the Royal Court and appointed himself Empress of San Francisco. He has continued to be the Court’s central figure ever since. Highlights of this collection include memorabilia related to the Black Cat, founding papers of the League for Civil Education and the Tavern Guild, photos and ephemera from the Royal Court, and a number of costumes­—including some Sarria first wore at the Black Cat.

Patricial Neil Warren and Larry Kramer
Patricia Nell Warren and famed writer and AIDS-activist Larry Kramer. Patricia Neil Warren Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries

The Patricia Nell Warren papers at ONE Archives documents one of the most popular and respected authors of LGBTQ literature. Warren is best known for her eight acclaimed novels, including her most celebrated work, The Front Runner, a love story so popular that it inspired Frontrunners running/walking clubs across the world. Her books have reached an estimated 20 million people, many of the titles published under her own independent press, Wildcat Press. A committed human-rights activist, Warren’s literary and political work has been recognized by the Arizona Human Rights Fund’s Barry Goldwater Award, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Western Heritage Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame, and the Gay and Lesbian Literary Hall of Fame. Highlights of this collection include copies of all Warren’s books, stories and articles; her extensive activist papers; fan mail and correspondence; and a set of 1950s home movies.

Image: (Background) José Sarria performs a drag show at the Black Cat Bar, San Francisco, c. early 1960s. Harold L. Call Papers. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries