Many Hands Make Archives & Our History Accessible!

This summer, the SMA hosted three student interns and researchers. Their work, along with the work of our twelve dedicated community volunteers, has made the past few months a generative time for the Archives.

When interns and volunteers organize and describe materials in the collections, by cataloging individual items and creating finding aids for donors’ collections, they make it possible for visitors to access all of those materials. The interpretive work researchers do with SMA materials helps our community understand their history, and allows us to bring that history to people who haven’t yet visited the Archives. We deeply appreciate the work our volunteers, interns and researchers completed this summer, and are grateful to their funders for making these opportunities possible.

Thanks to these workers, visitors can navigate and access the following recently-processed collections at the SMA:

For additional context on these collections and some highlights of work conducted by interns at the SMA this summer, read on!

Alyssa Aloise, a UMass Amherst undergraduate in History, working under the Richard Bauer Scholarship, has cataloged books, periodicals, multi-media, and art in the SMA, added archival materials to the Esther Heggie Collection and updated its finding aid, and organized archival materials and developed a finding aid for the Kiriyo Spooner Collection.

Alyssa continues to organize archival materials and develop a finding aid for the New Alexandria Lesbian Library (NALL) Organizational Collection (finding aid linked below).  This is a massive organizational collection of the original seed library of the SMA when it existed in Chicago, IL from 1974 to 1979 and in western Massachusetts from 1979 until 1992, when it was renamed and expanded into the Sexual Minorities Archives.

New Alexandria Lesbian Library Finding Aid

This collection includes mission and vision statements, work logs, book processing methodology, original book classifications, lending library logs and materials, photos from NALL in Chicago and of women attending NALL events in the Lesbian Feminist Center (early 1970s, Chicago), event flyers, financial records, invoices, bank statements, correspondence between NALL founder J.R. Roberts and Ben Power after Ben took over the NALL from J.R., signage, book processing materials and tools, and more. When this finding aid is completed, after decades of waiting for dedicated archival work to be done on this one-of-a kind collection, the history of NALL will become fully available to researchers and visitors to the SMA.

Jules Peterson, a Hampshire College undergraduate working under a Hampshire College Social Justice Grant, cataloged all of the SMA’s Reference materials (Archival Holdings Lists, Bibliographies, Catalogs, Dictionaries, Directories, Guides, Indexes, Ourstory, Photographs, and Reports). This is a project that had waited for decades to be completed and now makes the Reference section more usable and accessible. These materials now reside in the Reference Room on the third floor.

Jules also organized materials and developed finding aids for The Valley Women’s and Lesbian Movement Herstorical Chronology Collection (these are original working materials and source papers from Kaymarion Raymond’s project which now lives online),  the Paula Gottlieb Personal Collection (finding aid linked below), the New England Trans United (NETU) Pride March & Rally 2009 Collection (finding aid linked below).

Paula Gottlieb Collection Finding Aid
NETU Finding Aid

Jules worked extensively with the Marcia Deihl Music and Personal Collection, organizing it and creating a finding aid (finding aid linked below).  This is a large collection of the late bisexual activist and musician’s song books, song sheets, music on CDs, cassettes, and VHS; correspondence and personal papers.  The music and song sheets are queer-, trans-, feminist-, anti-racist-, anti-capitalist, and leftist- themed, including numerous rare IWW and folk materials.

Marcia Deihl Music and Personal Collection Finding Aid

Jules also cataloged several hundred vinyl record albums and music cassettes donated by Johanna Halbeisen of the New Song Library.  This donation nearly doubled the SMA’s Music holdings.

Sarah Pawlicki, a University of Minnesota graduate student in Public History and Heritage Studies, working under a grant from the University of Minnesota, conducted additional research on lesbian couple Dr. Amber Starbuck and Mabel Stevens of Middlefield, MA and the Big House they ran in the 1920s – 1960s. Sarah’s work contributes to an 80-page SMA original research paper, and developed a history talk based on the research that is part of the SMA’s Stories of Our LGBTQ Ancestors series. This history talk and research paper are now ready to be made available to the LGBTQ communities and interested others.