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2012/06/27

Joseph Hawkins, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, USA: From Community Collection to Professional Archiv, es: A Journey

"History is written by those who save the records; our archival institutions must collect, protect and make available those records, because otherwise an important part of the human experience will disappear."  

Photo of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives

Joseph Hawkins is the current Director of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries, the oldest active LGBTIQ organization in the United States and the largest collection of LGBTQ materials in the world. In this essay, he shares his fifteen years of experience and discusses the transition of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives from a community collection to a professional archive that cooperates with other institutions in the region, organizes exhibitions and events and hosts more than "7,000 posters, 12,500 videotapes and films, 40,000 books, 9,800 periodical titles and 150,000 buttons, stickers, and other kinds of ephemera".

What do you think about Joseph Hawkins' claim that a "the role of a queer archive should be to preserve the histories of a movement for social equality and not to participate in radical or even moderate activist efforts"? What other insights can you draw from his extensive experience? 


From Community Collection to Professional Archives: A Journey

Joseph R. Hawkins, Ph.D
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at
The University of Southern California

As the current Director of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries and its President for over eight years, I have witnessed first hand the journey from community collections to professional archives.  In this essay, I want to discuss the pains of transition, the concerns of and for the community, and the vigilance to be attentive to diversity that make the archive such a contested terrain for gendered identity.  The purpose of my essay is to share our experiences and provide an opportunity to learn from the good and bad moments in ONE’s history.

            I began my work with ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives over fifteen years ago while a graduate student.  My then mentor and dissertation advisor Walter L. Williams asked that I go to the home of recently deceased Los Angeles gay leader Don Slater and his partner Tony Reyes.  Reyes, bereft because his partner had just died, said he was “sick of the movement” and stood hurling things into a large bin as I arrived. I spent the next week loading and unloading a large truck with the records of ONE Institute and the Homosexual Information Center from Slater and Reyes’s dusty basement. There was heady emotion in those days as there is now. Organizations split up, professionalized and disappeared at a scary pace and ONE was no exception. Fissions, thefts, disagreements, and poverty plagued the archive for years. It is this tension between the preservation of history and the zeal of activism that I want to address. I want to examine issues such as a demand for activism in the archive, programming as an expensive form of access, a lack of community attention to funding the archives, and the emergence of the archives as museums and cultural centers that confront the emergence, on a global scale, of a number of first-rate LGBTQ archives.
            Most queer collections, like ONE Archives, evolved from the potent emotional contexts of activism championed by activist leaders who possessed an enormous passion for the creation of a movement for social equality for gender-variant peoples.  Although they saved and even hoarded mementos of their activities, few of these leaders, if any, had knowledge of what is entailed in the care and preservation of rare historical documents. ONE Archives too started, not as an archives, but as an organization at the vanguard of the struggles for LGBTQ equality in the United States. Publishing the first nationally distributed queer magazine in America beginning in 1953, ONE paved the way for many of the civil rights institutions for LGBT peoples in the United States. However, the care and feeding of an archive, as I have learned along the way, requires a set of skills completely different from those used in social activism, and which are often offensive or antithetical to activist agendas.  Here based on over fifteen years of experience in one of the largest LGBTQ archives in the world, I want to call attention to some of the problems I have witnessed in the transition from a community-based archive to a fully professional institution.  

History’s Place   
            While working as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, in 2002 I was asked by my former advisor to join the board of ONE. Although trained as an anthropologist whose area specialty is male homosexuality in the post-Taisho period in Japan, and not as an archivist, I immediately became deeply involved with ONE’s mission. ONE had until that time been only mildly successful in grant fundraising and preserving and providing access to its already vast and unruly collections. I was soon to discover that much of this had to do with the demands made on it by community leaders more interested in activism than archiving.
            Soon I was elected president of the organization and worked hard to begin grant writing efforts and to professionalize the, by then, fifty year old organization. It was an extremely lean time.  Few of the truly dedicated, well meaning volunteers understood even the most basic principles of archival best practices. There was little in the way of an acid-free environment to be found in the building, a converted fraternity house we occupied at the largesse of the University of Southern California. When researchers came, they often depended on the memory of a volunteer or our single staff member to find what they needed.  In the process of researching, many scholars altered the intellectual order of the papers they perused. We often found materials that researchers needed long after they had gone.
            Private donations for the support of staff and operations generally depended on the death of a former donor who had mentioned ONE in his or her estate. The annual budget in the early 2000s was seldom in excess of $75,000.  We had no archivists, a staff of one fledgling librarian, and almost no fundraising experience. Those that did donate materials entrusted us with legacies that we were barely able to preserve.
            Outside our walls, the records of the early LGBT movement in America were decaying and being thrown away and there was often little we could do about it.  When someone did leave materials to ONE during those early years and I visited their home, I would meet relatives, caregivers, and partners who rightly saw the bequest to us as a legacy bearing testimony to their loved one’s worth in life and as a record of their personal struggle for equality.
            ONE’s community supporters were passionately devoted to ONE, whether they volunteered, gave money, or expressed their aspirations for the organization. However, community voices in the archives often focused on continuing to affect social change at the expense of preservation efforts. Many activists wanted ONE, the archive, to do what ONE, the activist organization, had done for many years, i.e. raise hell, challenge the status quo, struggle for social equality, and fight to champion human rights.  All these are admirable goals; however, by the time I became a part of ONE it was already one of the largest LGBTQ collections on the planet. The demands of the collections gradually became more pressing than any community effort for social change. The board came to understand its mission not to be activists for LGBTQ peoples in a direct way but to insure the preservation of their history. Nevertheless, most of the members of the community then, and many even now, still wanted us to focus on social change at the expense of caring for our materials. 
            It quickly became clear to me that the role of a queer archive should be to preserve the histories of a movement for social equality and not to participate in radical or even moderate activist efforts. I often say we are like Switzerland--we don’t take sides, we try to be productive and neutral. I know this sentiment will ruffle feathers, but we cannot fail in our mission to preserve collections because we are denied a grant for partisan reasons, or are so busy doing programming that we have no funds for preservation and salaries. Furthermore, the very act of preserving the past is an act of defiance for a people whose lives have often been thought of as not worth preserving.
            As George Orwell so aptly said, “Who controls the past controls the future.  Who controls the present controls the past” (Orwell 1954).  We in queer archives, libraries, museums, and special collections accept a solemn duty to preserve the past and ensure the future of queer people. In order to do this we must make rational choices to do what we know how to do: preserve our community’s historical records, such as those of activists and their organizations.

Professionalism and Volunteers
            Perhaps nothing has changed the way that ONE Archives operates more than the arrival of archival professionals.  We still boast a healthy number of regular volunteers, some of whom have now been with us for almost thirty years.  These volunteers provide invaluable support for the collections as well as vast amounts of institutional memory. But lay volunteers can’t perform effectively without the leadership and guidance of professionals.
            After receiving our first large grant we were able to hire three full-time archival professionals for a three-year period.  The change was immediate and palpable. Aside from the organizational aspects of the collections, which began to find their way into acid free environments and online access, the materials the archivists processed began to inform the ways the institution saw its own history.
            Having already worked at the archives for four years, I began to be aware of materials that I had no idea even existed.  Small collections emerged from previously unknown locations. Archivists separated boxes of comingled materials into identifiable collections. Once materials were in better order researchers suddenly appeared from out of the blue. Over a two-year period we doubled the number of researchers who visited our institution and then doubled them again over the next two. 
            Of course, success brought demands. Researchers wanted the archivists’ help in finding collections. Folks began to phone in requests. Institutions wanted displays for Pride Month. Everyone from high schools’ Gay Students Alliances (GSA) to interest groups from major corporations wanted tours and information. We continue to struggle to meet these needs while keeping our archivists processing materials. At the same time, we are proud that the quality of our collections leads the public to want to understand LGBTQ history and culture.
            In addition to our materials being in better order, we began to experience an increase in acquisitions as well.  As potential donors saw that the materials gifted to our institution were preserved, accessible, and used by researchers, they had less hesitation about turning over their legacies to us. Some even gave us funds to process their own materials. In all, the change began to focus on the value of processing materials, which provided greater access, greater discoverability, and greater peace of mind to those in the community who wanted to preserve their history for future generations.

Fundraising and Boards
            Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the changes that overcame our institution as we moved from a community archive to a professional one was the gradual realization that no amount of fundraising by an independent non-profit board would ever be enough to fund the enormous demands made by our collections. After many consultants, advisors, and strategic retreats to discuss tactics for fundraising success, it became abundantly clear that boards prefer to do programming over fundraising, they seldom understand fully the role of an archive, and they often are motivated as much by personal interests (which most often include their genuine desire to do good work) as by their desire to care for the collections. Furthermore, it became apparent that even if the board had embraced fundraising, we would never have been able to maintain the scope of fundraising necessary for our collections over the long haul.
            Also, the board worked as no board should have to.  That is, the board’s members were responsible for the daily operations of the archive, for ensuring programmatic success, and for raising the funds necessary to keep processing and research ongoing. The board oversaw human resources, including payroll, hiring and firing, health benefits, and insurance all without the aid or experience of a full-time staff. The everyday oversight of staff is difficult when employees are paid to do a job and you as a board member are a volunteer.  We did our own information technology, website, collections acquisition, publicity, and community interface. For a board of twelve, all with full-time jobs, this was daunting to say the least.
            By 2008, the board had become convinced that the long-term security of the collections necessitated that they become part of the University of Southern California Libraries, and by 2010, an agreement was reached.  There are a number of reasons how this was able to come about.  First, as has already been discussed, the board realized that no amount of fundraising was going to be able to support the bourgeoning collections. With over 6,000 linear feet of archival       materials, we were just too big to be supported by a small non-profit alone.  Additionally, the task of being board president had become a full–time job and needed to be permanently funded. And finally, a new dean came to USC who was supportive of our becoming a part of the larger university context.
            Certainly there were supporters and opponents to the merger, both on the board and in the community.  Some were concerned that we would be “swallowed up” by an academic institution and lose our grassroots identity.  However, in many ways a grass-roots identity doesn’t serve an institution beyond its entrepreneurial stage. Donors are investors—they want to see solid vision and follow-through: they want to know you’ll be around in ten years. A major donor once said to me that our misgivings about being a part of the “straight” mainstream university were caused by our own inability to cope with our success.  He said that he felt we were winning hearts and minds and did not need to fear as we once did that we would be betrayed by society-at-large, but that we had been persecuted for so long we could not stop fighting. 
            Perhaps the most interesting change was that community members who had said they cherished our independent status, suddenly felt comfortable to make planned gifts and donations that they would not have felt secure about before. This was shocking to me.  Community supporters who had been unwilling to give us anything but small amounts are, now that USC provides a more solid and secure long-term environment, interested in giving us their legacy donations.  Because of this response, we are now initiating an Endowment Campaign, which we hope will provide funding and care for the collections in perpetuity.

More Product, Less Processing (MPLP)
            With the publication of the Miesner Green essay (2005), many granting agencies began to focus on what is often called “quick and dirty” processing. That may sound good in theory and sometimes it is practical; however, archives who deal with gendered materials are well aware of the difficulties of such processing. Many acquisitions have scant original order because they come from non-profit environments where there were no full-time employees or secure funding sources. These sorts of collections must be entirely rehoused and meticulously processed to properly preserve the materials and provide the descriptive control necessary for access by researchers.  Such requirements make for a tense environment in a small-scale archive. Someone with authority needs to decide whether some collections will need more than MPLP or will be fine with a quick and dirty processing. This may seem trivial, but when collections are in a state of utter chaos, proper preservation and detailed finding aids make a great deal of difference in the long-term use and sustainability of a collection.
            Another problem that has made MPLP processing difficult is that so much material is no longer in paper format.  Rehousing photographs, audiotapes, videotapes, buttons, matchbooks and other ephemera is time consuming, expensive, and requires a different set of skills than does straightforward archival paper processing.

Art, Ephemera, and Audiovisual materials
            ONE houses 7,000 posters, 12,500 videotapes and films, 40,000 books, 9,800 periodical titles and 150,000 buttons, stickers, and other kinds of ephemera. As a single institution, the scope of the collections makes bringing it all under control difficult.  Our solution has been to partner with a number of other organizations to help with the task.  For instance, in 2005, we deposited our films and videos at the University of California Los Angeles’s Film and Television Archives under the auspice of the Outfest Legacy Project.  Outfest, the local film festival, developed Legacy to preserve LGBTQ films. Their new state-of-the-art cold storage facility will insure that fragile materials on magnetic tape or film survive for another generation, while the electronic copies reside at ONE and are easily accessible.
            Another approach has been to write collaborative grants with other institutions that will help us to preserve materials that are beyond the resources of our single institution to preserve. Last year we wrote a Grammy Grant to preserve the audiotapes of the longest-running queer radio program in Los Angeles, Pacifica Radio’s IMRU; the grant was denied, but we will reapply this year.
            In 2010, we applied to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to be a part of the Pacific Standard Time (PST) exhibitions. The exhibitions, which included 60 Southern California cultural institutions examined the role of Southern California artists in the period from 1950-1980, a period that coincidentally paralleled the emergence of the early LGBT civil rights movement.  In our ignorance, we assumed that once the Getty accepted our proposal, they would fund our exhibition as they had the other cultural institutions’. Although that funding never materialized, our association with the Getty allowed us to leverage a presence in the arts community and to raise over $120,000 in a blend of private donations and a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation.  Furthermore, ONE’s profile benefited greatly from the exposure provided by the exhibition and the widespread coverage the PST exhibitions in general received in the Los Angeles area media.
            However, in order to produce the exhibit, we needed a professional expertise in art collections that our archivists lacked. We enlisted the aid of two recently graduated University of Southern California students, one a Masters in Fine Arts, the other a Bachelor in Fine Arts.  As volunteers who valued the experience and credit, they worked tirelessly along with two part-time employees and brought 50% of our 4000-piece arts collections under control.  Images were taken with a relatively inexpensive digital camera, rudimentary metadata was developed, and the collection was put online. Today, thanks in part to the Getty involvement, we loan art to other institutions, produce more exhibits more effortlessly, and were able this year to hire a full-time curator for the first time in the history of our institution.
            I often joke that it is hard to make an archives sexy to major donors.  However, with the addition of the visual materials, the impact of our archives is now more dramatic.  Patrons who might never take the time to read an essay or collection description can find immediate gratification in the visual images from the archives. This brings an entirely new source patronage and support to the archives and this draws them to other materials housed there.

Museums and Events
            In 2008, ONE opened the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood. The idea was to increase outreach to a new, more affluent audience on the west side of Los Angeles.  I am still unsure if that has been a success.  Although we have mounted fifteen exhibitions to date, many of which, including the Pacific Standard Time offering, have been well reviewed and well received, we are still poorly funded, snubbed by other community groups, and neglected by the city that houses us.
            Of greater success has been a film festival that one of our board members has developed from our holdings and from the holdings of a number of other institutions, filmmakers, and gay-owned studios.  The ONE Queer Film Festival began in 2009 at a small rental theater in the growing gay district of downtown Los Angeles. Although successful in the first two years, this year’s decline, in a different month and venue, may have resulted from those factors as well as competition with the Outfest Film Festival in the summer. Going forward, we will decide whether board member effort and production expenses are balanced by adequate profit and an opportunity to reach a younger demographic.
            For five years, we have hosted a Culture Series on the third Sunday of every month where community speakers, writers, actors and performers are invited to showcase queer culture, and this is a revival of the original ONE Lecture Series begun in the 1950s. Each year, we join the University of Southern California in their Visions and Voices program which provides offerings for students.  In addition, we recently developed a pop-up event context called the ONEoff in which we can stage more spontaneous programming. As popular as these programs have been, each costs money and requires that a board member take responsibility to raise the funding before the program can be offered.

Conclusions
            Archiving queer collections has been going on since the late 19th century in Europe beginning with Magnus Hirschfeld and perhaps long before by private collectors.  In the United States, it is a relatively new activity and follows on the heels of epic efforts on behalf of the social equality of queer peoples in the mid- 20th century.  As LGBTQ people in the US and around the world continue to struggle for equality, today the demands on the preservation of our history have never been more pressing.  As I write this, a respected archive in the U.S. has stopped collecting because of a renewed focus on programming, which has, in my opinion, distracted it from its mission.  Another major archive has lost its housing and has moved into what is hopefully temporary storage. 
            The practical demands of the care and feeding of a large archive are daunting to say the least, especially when the scope of the collections runs the gamut from matchbooks to costumes and from papers to electronic resources. In and of itself, this is a great and heavy burden, but if we as a community are to preserve our past then we must by necessity focus on the practical needs of our archives as separate from the activities of activism.  As I have said, the preservation of LGBTQ history is necessary for full and complete social equality. Archives should be allowed to do their jobs without the demand to take part in the activist fray. We need to communicate the reality that concentrating on funding for costly programming and events often comes at the expense of the materials in our collections and distracts from our primary mission: to preserve a history of the development and continued expansion of our culture. In many places in the world, LGBTQ people enjoy a greater position of social equality than ever before, while in others some of the most vile persecution is the norm and the law. History is written by those who save the records; our archival institutions must collect, protect and make available those records, because otherwise an important part of the human experience will disappear.  

Works Cited
Greene, Mark A.; Dennis Meissner (2005). "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing". American Archivist 68: 208–263.

Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. A novel. London: Secker & Warburg.

7 comments:

  1. As a former president of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, it may be appropriate for me to write the first comment to this article. I would like to give a bit of historical background that is left unsaid in this article, that may make Dr. Hawkins’ comments more clear. ONE was founded in 1952 by activists in what was then called the Homophile movement, in Los Angeles. Most of the founders, W. Dorr Legg, Don Slater, Dale Jennings, and others, had been involved in the Mattachine Society, which had been founded only two years before by Harry Hay and others.
    The Mattachine Society was rather secretive, but the founders of ONE wanted to do something different: they wanted to go public with an argument for homophile rights. They organized initially to publish a magazine, ONE, which became the leading homophile publication in the nation during the 1950s and early 1960s. But Dorr Legg wanted to do more than just publish a magazine. He, more than the other founders, had a vision of something larger. He wanted to establish ONE as a research and educational center, and he inserted these goals into the fledgling organization’s incorporation statement. [see Williams and Retter, 2003]. Don Slater wanted to keep the focus on publishing the magazine. The difference between these two goals eventually resulted in a major split of the organization in the mid 1960s. Unfortunately, this split became bitter, involving a court case over which faction would control the papers of the group. Most of the time and energy of the group was engulfed in this battle. After that, ONE declined in significance, as THE ADVOCATE became the leading publication of the emerging gay community. Don Slater’s faction evolved into the Homosexual Information Center, while Dorr Legg’s faction retained the name of ONE. Neither group was on the forefront after this infighting battle.
    In 1953, Jim Kepner had joined ONE, and he wrote many articles in the magazine under various names. But Jim shared Dorr’s interest in developing research and education, so in 1956, along with University of Southern California Professor Merritt Thompson, they founded ONE Institute for Homophile Studies. This was the western hemisphere’s first research institution in this field. In 1961, Jim and Dorr had some personality clashes, and Jim withdrew to establish his own separate organization which he named the National Gay Archives. His purpose was to collect and preserve as many books, articles, and other materials as he could. He worked as a taxi driver and other jobs, but spent almost all his money on purchases of books.
    Each of these dedicated founders, along with many other volunteers, made their own important contributions. Though each of them, I know from personal experience with all three, had very head-strong personalities (no other type of personality would have been able to accomplish what they did), each deserves to be remembered and honored for the way they devoted their total lives to collecting, preserving and saving the documents of the early homophile movement. It is not true, as some historians have alleged, that these founders were cautious and conservative. They were all bold progressive pioneers, with extremely radical ideas for their time.

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  2. [CONTINUING] In 1979, when I first moved to Los Angeles as a professor at UCLA, I got involved with each of them. By that time, Dorr, Jim and Don had their three separate groups. I liked and honored all three of these men, and consider all of them my mentors. From the very beginning, my goal was to bring all three groups together. I knew from my experience as a historian who had done work in many archives, that combining the collections would allow development of an archives that could be more efficient and with more potential for fundraising than having three competing archives. The dedicated librarian at ONE, David Smith, who was a professional librarian and volunteered his time after working all day at the Los Angeles Public Library, shared my view. Jim Kepner invited me to become a member of the board of directors of the National Gay Archives. In 1984, I was chosen as President, and June Mazer became Vice President. June and I were friends, and we accepted the offices on condition that the group be renamed the International Gay and Lesbian Archives. This reflected our interest in expanding the archives to collecting worldwide, and to increase emphasis on the already considerable collections that Jim Kepner had begun on lesbian herstory. Jim was fully supportive of this expansion.
    Next, Dorr Legg invited me to be on the board at ONE, and I became director of the ONE Institute Center for Advanced Studies. My goal in establishing this section of ONE was to encourage researchers to utilize ONE’s large library, as well as Jim’s Archives, and Don’s HIC. The first step in this cooperative effort was when I raised money to finance the trip of my ex-boyfriend Gregory Sprague, to fly from Chicago to do further research on his project on the LGBTI history of Chicago.
    Not only was I happy to be reunited with Greg, who stayed in a room at ONE while he did research in all three archives, but he and I went on to found the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History, which under my direction a year later became a formal affiliated society of the American Historical Association. This group is now large and active in the AHA, and I consider it one of the major accomplishments of my life, even though it was Greg who as the first director really did the important work to get the group organized. He is justly memorialized by a scholarship named after him, that is awarded for historical research each year in the AHA.

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  3. [CONTINUING] When Don Slater died, if it was not for dedicated people like John O’Brien, Jim Kepner, Vern Bullough, James Schneider, and others, his entire Homosexual Information Center collection might have been lost. It was stored in boxes in his house, and his berift lover Tony Reyes had to leave the house and had no resources to do anything with all those boxes of materials. At the time, I was too busy as a professor at the University of Southern California to spend much time on it, but I persuaded my graduate student Joseph Hawkins to assist in this crucial salvage effort. As Joseph mentions, this was his first involvement in the archives.
    I knew that Joseph had the intellectual background, from having taken my graduate seminar in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies, and other work with me at USC, but I did not know that he would develop such talents in fundraising as he has accomplished over the last decade. When I asked him to join the board at ONE, I had no idea that he would be as successful as he has been in this regard.
    My consistent goal during the 1980s and 1990s was to bring all three archival collections together, and in 1994, after several years of lobbying at USC, I was able to convince the University to offer a 14,000 square foot building for housing these archives. Jim Kepner was enthusiastically supportive of the idea of merging all three archives at USC, from the first time I discussed the project with him. Dorr Legg’s health declined when he was age 89, and in my last conversation with him I pledged to do everything I could to continue his work. I had helped him write and publish a history of his work at ONE, titled “Homophile Studies in Theory and Practice” so he was well pleased with the publication of this book. He knew that I wanted to unite the two collections, and he gave his blessing to the idea.
    I also talked with Dale Jennings and Jim Schneider, the leaders of HIC after Don Slater’s death, to get their agreement to unite the HIC with the other archives at USC. But the major work to bring HIC into the united archives was due to John O’Brien, the president of the board at the International Gay and Lesbian Archives. John had literally saved the archives from disaster when it grew so large that there was no place to keep it. Jim Kepner had rented a storefront in West Hollywood, but when I was president of the archives I found that most of my time was being spent just trying to raise enough money to pay the rent and utilities each month. It was horrendous, and that is when I determined that it was necessary to find a suitable academic location for donated space. As Joseph said, this archives had become so large that a donated permanent space was necessary.

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  4. Willams continuing7/07/2012 10:32 AM

    When Don Slater died, if it was not for dedicated people like John O’Brien, Jim Kepner, Vern Bullough, James Schneider, and others, his entire Homosexual Information Center collection might have been lost. It was stored in boxes in his house, and his berift lover Tony Reyes had to leave the house and had no resources to do anything with all those boxes of materials. At the time, I was too busy as a professor at the University of Southern California to spend much time on it, but I persuaded my graduate student Joseph Hawkins to assist in this crucial salvage effort. As Joseph mentions, this was his first involvement in the archives.
    I knew that Joseph had the intellectual background, from having taken my graduate seminar in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies, and other work with me at USC, but I did not know that he would develop such talents in fundraising as he has accomplished over the last decade. When I asked him to join the board at ONE, I had no idea that he would be as successful as he has been in this regard.
    My consistent goal during the 1980s and 1990s was to bring all three archival collections together, and in 1994, after several years of lobbying at USC, I was able to convince the University to offer a 14,000 square foot building for housing these archives. Jim Kepner was enthusiastically supportive of the idea of merging all three archives at USC, from the first time I discussed the project with him. Dorr Legg’s health declined when he was age 89, and in my last conversation with him I pledged to do everything I could to continue his work. I had helped him write and publish a history of his work at ONE, titled “Homophile Studies in Theory and Practice” so he was well pleased with the publication of this book. He knew that I wanted to unite the two collections, and he gave his blessing to the idea.
    I also talked with Dale Jennings and Jim Schneider, the leaders of HIC after Don Slater’s death, to get their agreement to unite the HIC with the other archives at USC. But the major work to bring HIC into the united archives was due to John O’Brien, the president of the board at the International Gay and Lesbian Archives. John had literally saved the archives from disaster when it grew so large that there was no place to keep it. Jim Kepner had rented a storefront in West Hollywood, but when I was president of the archives I found that most of my time was being spent just trying to raise enough money to pay the rent and utilities each month. It was horrendous, and that is when I determined that it was necessary to find a suitable academic location for donated space. As Joseph said, this archives had become so large that a donated permanent space was necessary.
    In 1987-88, when I was away doing research as a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia, John O’Brien arranged for the City of West Hollywood to provide free space in one of their buildings. If not for his work, I do not think it could have survived. Many people over the years have made crucial contributions to the survival and growth of this archives, but John is among the most important. He not only kept the archives going, but he also supported Jim Kepner. I phoned every gay historian I knew, and with donations from myself, John D’Emilio, and others, we managed to collect enough money to provide for the needs for Jim Kepner until he could reach age 62 when he could qualify to receive social security retirement benefits.

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    Replies
    1. THIS PART IS A MISTAKE, WITH A REPETITION FROM THE PREVIOUS COMMENT

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  5. Williams continuing from above7/07/2012 10:46 AM

    In 1994, once I had a commitment from USC to provide an entire building, I used this accomplishment to persuade the boards of both ONE and the Archives to unite. To my surprise, this was an extremely difficult task, as turfs and personalities clashed. I felt like I was trying to oversee negotiations between Arabs and Israelis, it was so complex. Finally, we worked out an agreement, whereby ONE donated its entire library and archives to the International Gay and Lesbian Archives (IGLA), and then IGLA became a division of ONE Institute.
    The other three divisions of ONE were the Center for Advanced Studies (my baby, whose purpose was to provide support for researchers to use the archives); ONE Institute Press (whose purpose was to publish the results of this research), and ONE Forum (whose purpose was to publicize LGBTI history, by the ONE Institute Lecture Series, other programs, and exhibits). Before I became a professor I started my career working in museum exhibit design, so my own special interest was to make a museum of LGBTI history. I reserved half of the top floor of the USC building for a museum exhibition. One half was to be an art museum, and the other half was a history museum that I worked on for several months. We opened the museum and archives in 2001, and it was a grand opening with hundreds of people attending. I am pleased that Joseph Hawkins was able to get separate space in West Hollywood to further develop this idea of a museum. Although it has yet to reach its full potential, at least a good start has been made.
    My goal was to get the archives building opened in 2001, so that I could withdraw from archival work and concentrate on the Center for Advanced Studies. I was able to convince USC to provide for three years a 17-unit apartment building to bring in visiting researchers. As director of this project, I made sure to provide apartments for Jim Kepner, John O’Brien, and Yolanda Retter of the June Mazer Lesbian Collection, so they would not have to pay rent and could live free while concentrating on their important work. I sent out an ad for visiting scholars and we were able to provide free housing for scholars coming from several nations, including Professor Igor Kon from the Russian Academy of Sciences (he went on to publish the first book on homosexuality in Russia), Holly Devor from Canada (who published FTM and other important works on female to male transsexuality), and James Green (who published an award-winning book on gay Brazil and is now a prominent professor). I was really proud of the accomplishments of the scholars who were living there, as well as Jim Kepner publishing his own book on the history of gay journalism. But I was bitterly disappointed that private donors did not come forward to fund further continuation of this research center. So, after the initial three years that had been provided free by USC ended, the Center had to close.
    Another big dissappointment was with the June Mazer Lesbian Collection. As a personal friend of June Mazer, and one who knew her and her lover Bunny MacCullough before they both died of cancer, I knew they would have been strongly supportive of this unification. Although some of its board members like Lillian Faderman and Yolanda Retter worked hard to bring this collection into the new archives building, a slight majority of its board voted not to accept our offer to join at USC. They remained in West Hollywood as a separate group. Yolanda Retter became angry at this rejection, and joined the board of ONE to develop the Lesbian Legacy Collection. She and others worked hard to collect and develop more lesbian materials.
    John O’Brien put his emphasis on collecting, and brought in several major collections. I have never seen anyone work so hard for our movement as he did.

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  6. Walter L. Williams final commen7/07/2012 10:49 AM

    I wanted to develop ONE Institute Press, to continue publishing books as ONE had done in the past. But there was no money, and I agreed with ONE Archives board that top priority should go to the archives. So with Jim Kepner’s help I started the INTERNATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN REVIEW to review books that were being published in many fields of study. Part of my reason for starting this review in 1996 (which is the world’s first academic journal to be published entirely on the internet, at http://gaybookreviews.info online) was to get publishers to send free books to ONE so they could be reviewed by reviewers and then become part of ONE’s library. But again I was disappointed, as not many people came forward to serve as reviewers. If not for the students in my graduate seminar at USC, many books would not have been reviewed. Although I am proud of having founded this journal, I am disappointed that since my retirement it has not been kept current with the plethora of new books being published in recent years. I still have hope, though, that someone will come forward to become its editor who will bring it up to date. I continue to feel it is an excellent way for ONE Archives to receive free books from publishers, in exchange for reviews.

    What I have learned is that life is full of dissappointments, but if one can gain some accomplishments in the process, then that is still a victory. Now I am retired and living abroad, and no longer actively involved in ONE. They have done some things I do not like, such as changing the name from “international” to “national,” but overall I feel a great sense of gratitude for Joseph and the many other wonderful people who have volunteered their time and talents to make ONE Archives what it is today.
    Joseph is entirely correct that priorities must be made, and the prime purpose of the archives is to collect, preserve, and provide materials to researchers now and in future generations. None of us, from the founders Dorr Legg, Don Slater, Jim Kepner and others, have done what we did solely for this generation now. All of us have our eyes on the future. That is why we worked so hard to save these materials. The progress that has been made, in the growth and professionalization of this magnificent collection, is all to the good.
    But I differ with Joseph in one regard. While decisions must be made on what to prioritize, I do not see this as activist versus non-activist. The very act of saving these materials and making them available to researchers (from academics, journalists, artists, and other professionals, to closeted high school students making their first step to learning about our shared past) is itself an activist act. We are not a new invention in the world; we are a people with a history. If we are aware of that history, that shared past going back many thousands of years, then we can approach the present and the future with an entirely different perspective and attitude. It is that task to which I have devoted my life. In doing this, I consider myself both an academic and an activist. Those are not opposite but complementary to each other. I am so happy to see the great progress of our movement and our people, and I know that further advances will be won in the future.

    REFERENCES
    INTERNATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN REVIEW http://gaybookreviews.info

    W. Dorr Legg, Walter L. Williams, and David Cameron, HOMOPHILE STUDIES IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (San Francisco: ONE Institute Press, 1994).

    Walter L. Williams and Yolanda Retter, GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES: A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2003)

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