Monday, September 17, 2012

LHA Dreaming, 1997

As I go through my papers trying to organize the past in some helpful way, I come across moments of attempt that I want to share, not because they are perfect, but because they are markings of a lesbian imagination, a collective imagination.

Project Bulletin #1 from Joan Nestle, Dec 20, 1997
Note: Since I have stopped teaching, I have time for making lists and every time I talk to Morgan or Saskia or Max, we come up with a hundred ideas of things to do with the collection. These are my suggestions; please feel free to take off on them in any way. The more communal,  the better.  Just think, an annotated bibliography could be your first publication.
Project 1—Annotated bibliographies based on ethnicity, based on archives holdings (subject files, books, special collections, photographs, posters, etc)
          African-American Lesbians
         Latina Lesbians
         Jewish Lesbians
         Asian Lesbians
         Italian Lesbians
        Irish Lesbians
       Etc, etc.
Purpose: to make archives materials more accessible both for visitors and out of town researchers; to encourage more donations of material; to help us know what the collection holds. Can be published in newsletter, or on our web site and as a bibliographic pamphlet to be at archives or mailed out.
Example:  attached  [I do not have this attachment in my papers, but if my memory serves me, it was a beginning bibliography on our materials on African-American lesbians]
Project 2—The  Lesbian Century Scroll. For every day in the 20th century, we will find a lesbian event, person, publication, etc. Eventually to be published perhaps with graphics. A communal project for everyone at the  archives including visitors. We can get a large roll of white paper, draw columns for the years and start filling in. Pull a book off the shelf and write in title, author, publisher, year;  go through a journal, etc. I suggest we start with years, than move to months, then days. Our goal could be to be finished by the year 2000. All entries will be entered into the computer as well. I have started the gathering of yearly events.
   Years accounted for: 1900-1903, 1904, 1907-1909, 1911-12, 1914-16, 1918-23, 1926, 1928-1930, 1932-37, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1952-58, 1960, 1963-4, 1966-7, 1969
I stopped at the 70s because there was so much—but go ahead! I keep a list in a little black book.
Method: I have been going through books like Jeanette Foster’s Sex Variant Women.  Still to be tackled Jonathan Katz’s Gay American History. I put on a 3x4 note card, the year (month and day if possible), the event (book published, meeting held, law passed, scandal…) and source of information. We can all decide how to do this at the archives.
Purpose: to show the continuity of the lesbian presence, in all its differences, in the 20th century, to get us all involved in mapping our history, to discover interesting connections, to publish in whatever form we deem, to have fun!

In 1996, I had been diagnosed with colon cancer and this thinking of LHA projects helped me endure the treatment. They are still hanging in the air of the possible for others to think about.

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