April 2016


In This Issue

From the Archivist   

Upcoming Events 

Visit Us 

DONATE -- Keep GLBT History Alive! VOLUNTEER -- Many Ways to Get Involved
History on The Move
The Archives Find a New, Larger Home
New location of the GLBT Historical Society archives
Our precious GLBT history is on the move! We were running out of space at our Mission Street location -- and a rent hike at the end of the lease prompted us to look for a new home.
After a yearlong search, the society has found a larger, more appropriate space for our extensive archives, which preserve more than 100 years of GLBT documents, artifacts and stories. This means more room for collections, researchers, visitors and staff.

The GLBT History Museum will remain in the Castro, but the archives will now be housed at 989 Market St. in downtown San Francisco. We are planning to start the big move in May and anticipate that it will take two months.  
We need your help to make the move . As you can imagine, office space in San Francisco's real estate climate is an expensive undertaking. The expansion of our archives is crucial to preserving the stories of our lives for future generations. Below, our managing archivist, Joanna Black, tells just one story that shows how our expanding and improving our archives makes it possible to organize and properly store historical materials.

For more information on the move and to make a donation today, visit our Indiegogo fundraising page.
ArchivistFrom the Archivist 
Collection Donors Provide Keys to Historical Context
The front window at ESP Gallery.
by Joanna Black
Over the last few months here in the GLBT Historical Society Archives, we've been focusing the bulk of our efforts on preparing to move the collections from our current space at 657 Mission St. to a much large r location down the road at 989 Market St. A move of this size is no small feat: With all the inventorying, tracking, sorting and barcoding, the archives have been swirling with a mix of serious diligence and energetic anticipation.

As the move rapidly approaches, I have been busy tying up loose ends around the archives, locating any and all collections that have yet to be formally accessioned and cataloged. And with the help of archives staff Alex Barrows and volunteer Richard Leadbetter, we've  accessioned five new collections in 2016, including the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers records, the Larry Berner collection and the Marcia Munson Lesbian Polyamory Reader papers.

Collection donors play a huge role in the success of the historical society's mission to interpret LGBTQ history and make it accessible to all. Not simply the originator or source of collections, donors possess valuable contextual  information about their materials, such as names of persons in photographs, the year a film was created, or the subjects that inform a collection's broader historical significance. 

In my quest to leave no collection unaccounted for before the big move, I came across a mysterious box simply labeled "queer artists." The box held a binder of photos, postcards and press materials -- but we had no deed of gift or other documentation explaining who donated the materials, what they were or where they came from. 

Crowd in front of artwork by Jim Winters.  
But piece by piece, Richard and I began making sense of the box's contents. The gallery name ESP showed up a lot, as well as the name Matthew Pawlowski. Through the power of the Internet, I tracked down Pawlowski, shot him an email and discovered he was indeed the original donor. He explained that the materials are a gathering of photographs and ephemera from the former San Francisco Mission District art gallery ESP, which he started in 1996. 

To help identify people, places and events in the collection, Pawlowski agreed to come down to the archives and revisit his collection. As soon as we opened the box, I could sense the emotion sweeping through Pawlowski, whose life was once so closely intertwined with these materials. He went through each photo and told me about the individuals and exhibitions shown. He also talked about the broader network of galleries and artists working together in the Mission District during that time -- what is now better known as the Mission School art movement.  

Sticker show at ESP Gallery.  
Pawlowski remembered what seemed like every detail: who had passed away between then and now, what artists had gone on to do other projects, the dates of certain shows. And from this vast wealth of knowledge, he transformed our perception of this collection from a once mysterious group of photos and ephemera sitting on an archives shelf into an extremely dynamic, historically rich record of queer and queer-friendly artists whose mark on the San Francisco art scene 20 years ago still reverberates today.

As the ESP photographs and ephemera collection has shown me, working with donors does not begin and end with the transfer of their materials to the archives; it is an evolving relationship that fosters conversation, collaboration and cooperation between the archives staff and collection creators. Together, we shape a more accurate account of the past, benefiting all individuals who seek to understand truth in history.

Joanna Black is the managing archivist at the GLBT Historical Society.   
Upcomingevents Upcoming Events
Author Talk
Queer Clout: Chicago and
the Rise of Queer Politics
Thursday, March 31, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco
$5 suggested donation, members free
Historian Timothy Stewart-Winter presents his new book, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Queer Politics, which shifts the story from the coastal gay meccas to the often overlooked events of the nation's midwestern metropolis. The work draws on a decade of research, including oral histories and previously unexamined archival documents and is richly illustrated with images spanning more than half a century. Read more about this event here. Join the Facebook conversation here
Exhibition Opening
Dancers We Lost:
Performers Lost to HIV/AIDS

Friday, April 1, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. 
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco
$5 donation; free for members 
The AIDS pandemic struck the performing arts particularly hard. "Dancers We Lost" is an important step in documenting and bringing to light the lives and contributions of performers, most of whom tragically died young. With an exhibition and a database providing accurate information about their lives and careers, "Dancers We Lost" ensures that these virtuousos will not be forgotten. Running April 1 through August 7, the show features dramatic photographs and other documentation. Join the Facebook for the  opening night here conversation here.

Also planned in conjunction with the exhibition: A special reception honoring family and friends of the dancers, taking place at the museum on Sunday, April 3, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Everyone welcome. For more information, click here
Author Talk
Warped: Gay Normality

& Queer Anti-Capitalism

Thursday, April 28, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. 
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco
$5 donation; free for members 
Author Peter Drucker discusses his new book Warped: Gay Normality and Queer Anti-Capitalism, which shows how the successive "same-sex formations" of the past century and a half have led both to the emergence of today's "homonormativity" and "homonationalism" and to ongoing queer resistance. In this talk, Drucker will explore the history and its implications for the present. Join the Facebook conversation here
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Exhibitions & Programs

The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-1107
Monday & Wednesday-Saturday: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-5:00 p.m.
Tuesday: Closed  

Archives & Reading Room 

The GLBT Historical Society
657 Mission St., Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105

NOTE: Closed in May and June for move to the new archives location.