Share a toast with Empress IV Reba of the San Francisco Imperial Court and check out the costumes at this party from 1968. Can you help us identify the location? This is a silent excerpt from the Anonymous Collection 2000-67, eight 8 mm films which revolve around Reba and the Court. We scanned the entire collection in high definition this past March.
The Castro Street Fair celebrates its 41st anniversary this Sunday. Founded in 1974 by Harvey Milk, it’s long been a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Artists, vendors, craftspeople, and community organizations line the streets while several stages feature live music and dancing.
The archives is fortunate to possess amateur videotape shot at the 1976 and 1978 fairs. It’s part of the Daniel Smith/Queer Blue Light collection of nearly 100 reels produced by community enthusiasts in the 1970s. Below, take a trip through the sights and sounds of the Castro Street Fair as it happened on October 3, 1976.
Throughout the months of April and May, Visions and Voices uncovered more meaningful GLBTHS collections that capture much of the everyday social and cultural lives of LGBTQ individuals in the 20th century. During this two month working period, I advanced the Visions and Voices project by surveying 14 new collections, processing 12, and creating and posting finding aids for 4 collections of photographic and AV materials, bringing the project totals within reach of its stated goals. Progress!
In early April, I set my sights on processing the KQED ‘The Castro’ videotapes (#2000-63). Containing 40 one inch reels of B rolls and interviews from KQED’s documentary on the Castro neighborhood – the third episode in KQED’s series “Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco” – the footage was utilized to create a cohesive narrative which aired in 1998, two years after filming took place. Highlighting subjects such as the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) police raid in 1965, the assassinations of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Mascone in 1978, and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, “The Castro” integrates interviews with residents of the neighborhood to document the varied experiences of former Irish residents, gay men, lesbians, and queer youth. For more information on the program, please visit the KQED “Making of the Castro” page.
Another collection that emerged from the archives in April was the Harold O’Neal film collection (#2002-03) documenting the life’s work of filmmaker Harold O’Neal who started filming in 1939 and continued through the 1980s. His films contain material about a wide variety of subjects on gay and general interest themes, including footage of the relocation of Japanese Americans to concentration camps in World War II, female impersonators performing at the Beige Room in San Francisco, gay men socializing in the 1940s, and gay freedom day parades from 1978-1980.
Because the O’Neal collection is in the process of being digitized (a separate project that is not part of the Visions and Voices NHPRC grant), I felt it an ideal opportunity for me to give the physical collection proper archival documentation. As of June, this 5.25 linear feet collection has been completely surveyed and is now awaiting completion of a finding aid, which will be posted on the GLBTHS section of the Online Archive of California as soon as it’s completed.
Moving on to May, an interesting group of photographs from the Koala’s Motorcycle Club Run (#2015-12) came across my processing tables. Although the collection is small – only 6 black and white photos dating from about 1967 – I was struck by the Koala’s members, including Peter Fiske, who are candidly socializing outdoors, dressed in leather caps and boots, denim vests and jeans. Surprisingly, while researching the history of the Koala’s Motorcycle Club, I came across an article written by Mister Marcus in the Bay Area Reporter titled “Life beyond IML”; in it, an image is used that closely resembles one of those found in the GLBTHS Koala Motorcycle Club Run collection that I was then working on. The caption for the image in the article reads:
“Group photo of the Koala’s Motorcycle Club of San Francisco in 1967. Note certain men with run buttons on their caps – a trademark among bike clubs in those days. Also note lower right hand photo of a much younger Peter Fiske. photo: The Late Henri Leleu”.
This one caption helped me to understand so much contextual information about this small collection of photographs: the year, names, and photographer of the images, which I then integrated into the catalog record. Researching is always a vital part in processing any archival collection, but rarely do such specific details surface.
With so many interesting collections emerging and more collections to be discovered, Visions and Voices is proving an extremely valuable tool in shedding light on forgotten and fading narratives. Other noteworthy collections that have surfaced in April and May include: the William A. Longen videotapes (#2008-31) of KTVU news segments documenting LGBTQ communities and events from 1977 to 1997 within the Bay Area; the Audrey Joseph collection of VHS videotapes (#2008-30), trophies, posters, and ephemera documenting past International Ms. Leather and Ms. SF Leather events, International Mr. Leather and Mr. SF Leather events, Drummer events, and Club Townsend; and photographic and AV accretions to the William Struzenberg papers which contain various materials reflecting Struzenberg’s life as a student and artist, as well as his involvement with AIDS activism in ACT UP Golden Gate and ACT NOW.