By Lambda Archives Staff
There are so many treasures hidden in Lambda Archives that unless someone requests something or we take a deep dive into a collection for processing, we often don’t know what treasures lay buried in boxes we never have time to open and explore.
For instance, while processing material from the Doug Moore Pride Collection, we have discovered many gems, including the 30 Pride theme banners from 1975-2004. These banners commemorated each Pride starting with 1975 and were carried as part of the parade for years. We hope to display some of them in our booth at this year’s Pride.
Thanks to the great support of Pride, this year’s booth will be much larger than in years past with a lot more history, particularly geared to the theme of Stonewall 50. Stay tuned for more information on the special events and exhibits planned for July!
Our intern from SDSU is currently processing an accrual to our Center for Social Services Collection, which contains invaluable material regarding the early days of the center and those who were involved in making what would become one of the largest and most vibrant LGBTQ community centers in the nation. There is some overlap between this collection and the collection of Pride history and that of some of the founding members of the community as their early activism crossed from one organization to another.
Another find our intern unearthed was a list of gay bars created by Jess Jessop in 1972 which added a great deal of information to our spreadsheet of early LGBT businesses.
Many other projects are keeping the Archives staff, interns, volunteers and board busy. Among them:
- We continue the digitization of our VHS tapes from ’80s and ’90s highlighting news and events from the San Diego LGBTQ community. We had already digitized all of our reel-to-reel and cassette tapes and now are working to preserve our VHS collection before they deteriorate to the point they are unplayable. Every time a tape is played, it wears down a little and simple age takes its toll. We do not want to lose the videos of early Pride parades, performances of the women’s and men’s choruses and so many other moments from the past.
- We are assembling a list of our book collection for export to Worldcat, allowing for individuals to discover our more unusual titles while searching at their local library (public or academic). Due to space constraints, we will be parting with some common titles that are readily available at public libraries, but we want the world to know some of the rare books that we possess, some of which only exist in a handful of libraries in the U.S. Among the rarer titles: “Voluptuous Panic,” “The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin” and “The Illustrated Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography” prepared for Richard Nixon in 1972.
- The Lambda Archives Oral History Project has been focusing on individuals from the North Park Senior Housing Project, one of only seven in the country that is LGBTQ affirming and geared for those 55 and over.
- With a new acquisition from the Ladies Room adjacent to the Caliph, combined with other recently acquired material, we are endeavoring to establish a dedicated collection devoted to trans/cross-dressing history spanning decades.
- Thanks to the Imperial Court de San Diego, we now have programs from their coronations (all but Coronation III — if you happen to have a copy at home you’re willing to donate, please do) from 1981-2005. We will be digitizing them as searchable PDF files.
And we have been helping with requests for information from near and far. Some folks wanted to access an interview that the brother of David Koresh (he of Branch Davidian fame) did with the Gay & Lesbian Times.
The brother was gay, lived in Hillcrest, and the only interview he gave to any media was to that local news outlet. Who knew?
A journalist in London wanted more information about the Blood Sisters — the group of brave local lesbians who stepped up to donate blood in the early days of AIDS to help their sick, gay friends.
The Blood Sisters and Lambda Archives made the news in the U.K. A filmmaker in Ireland wanted more information about Andrew Cunanan and the Archives was able to put him in touch with a few local people who knew Andrew.
All just a part of our mission to share our history — good and bad — with the world. Visit the Archives, the exhibit at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park, or come to one of our events to learn more!
Events benefitting the Archives
On Saturday, Feb. 16, to celebrate her birthday, local drag legend Franceska presents a good old-fashioned entertaining drag show. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. The $10 cover at the door will go to benefit Lambda Archives’ continuing work to preserve and teach local LGBTQ history. Socialize before the show and dance after the show to enjoy some great company.
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m., Lambda Archives presents the San Diego debut of the stage play “Dear Anita Bryant,” by well-known activist Ronni Sanlo. Sanlo lost custody of her children when she came out as a lesbian in Florida during the Anita Bryant days. This one-hour, one-act play covers LGBT history from the 1950s, through Sanlo’s battle for equal rights and to see her children. The play is being performed at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd., as a benefit for Lambda Archives and will be followed by a VIP reception in the theater lobby to meet Ronni, the cast, and Lambda Archives historian-in-residence Lillian Faderman. Tickets to the performance are $20 for Archives members, $25 for nonmembers, $40 for the VIP package for Archives members and $50 for nonmembers. For tickets: bit.ly/2BaG0UZ.
For more information: 619-260-1522 or info@LambdaArchives.org.
The next public walking tour of Hillcrest’s LGBTQ history is Saturday, March 2 at 10:30 a.m. Get your tickets: lambda-archives.ticketleap.com.
—Walter G. Meyer is the author of the critically acclaimed gay novel ‘Rounding Third,’ a regular contributor to Gay San Diego, and the manager of Lambda Archives. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.