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NOVEMBER 2009


In This Issue
Letter from the Chair
HistoryMakers: THP's Inaugural Awards Event
Boston's Transgender History
Your Stuff = Your Story
Recent Acquistions
THP teams up with Historic New England
Profile: Maureen Ryan, Volunteer


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Get Involved

From working in the archives to helping produce exhibitions on Boston's GLBT history to helping us plan events and organize educational programs ...

Find out how you can volunteer with The History Project!

Email info@historyproject.org or call 617.266.7733 for more information.


Call for Materials

We are actively seeking materials - photographs, letters, oral histories, publications, etc. - from Boston's lesbian community. We hope to mount a series of exhibitions highlighting the various and often overlooked aspects of this richly diverse community.

For more information, please contact either Libby Bouvier at libby@historyproject.org or Andrea Still Gray at andreastill@msn.com,
or call 617.266.7733.


Website Redesign

In 2010, The History Project will embark on a complete redesign of our website to introduce new and improved ways of sharing information about Boston's GLBT history with our community.

To learn more about this process, contact project lead and THP board member Andrea Still Gray at andreastill@msn.com

Also, you can help us fund this project by making a secure online donation to The History Project.

To do so, visit our online donation page at
CommunityRoom.net


The Queer East Update
 
The Queer East, our groundbreaking online exhibition celebrating the history of Boston's Asian LGBT community, enters a new phase this fall.

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With the addition of two new multimedia profiles--activists and community leaders Nikhil Aziz and Imtiyaz Hussein--and a new searchable database featuring photos, newsletters, articles and other historical materials.

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In the coming year we hope to add six more profiles and to expand the database portion.

Explore The Queer East at www.queereast.org.


Awards Event
Host Committee


Libby Bouvier
and Andrea Devine

Orlando Del Valle
and Roland St. Jean

Amit Dixit

Patricia Gozemba
and Karen Kahn

Kevin Hepner

Neal Kane and
Charles Schoonmaker

Stewart Landers

Chris Mekal
and Gilles Quintal

Warren Seamans

Donald Yasi

Stephen Zinner M.D.



Awards Event Sponsors
 
Boston Athenaeum

Dickinson Associates

Wainwright Bank
Top1
Letter from the Chair



Dear Friend of The History Project:

With this issue of our newsletter, Timelines is officially online.

At Looking Back, Facing Forward
History Project chair Neal Kane (center) with Host Committee members Chris Mekal (left) and Kevin Hepner at Looking Back, Facing Forward. Photo by Marilyn Humphries

Converting Timelines to a digital format will create an appreciable savings for us by eliminating the costs associated with production, paper, and postage, thereby enabling THP to devote more of its limited resources to operating and staff costs, archival efforts, and special projects.  

While the economic climate remains challenging for small organizations with big ambitions, we at The History Project want to ensure that our supporters stay informed about the exciting developments taking place within the organization. 

In this issue of Timelines, we highlight a number of recent activities: partnering with Historic New England to uncover the hidden history of a landmark house in Gloucester, progress on our initiative to document Boston's transgender community, a special call for materials from the local lesbian community, a recap of our extremely successful awards event in June, and a profile of one of our most dedicated volunteers. 

The recent repeal of Maine's equal marriage law underscores the importance of acknowledging, participating in, and documenting the ongoing struggle for GLBT equality. We make history when we fight for our rights, celebrate our love, and continue our efforts to educate the public about the legacy and accomplishments of GLBT individuals. The hard-won victories we have achieved here in Massachusetts continue to inspire supporters of social justice around the country--and The History Project is the group most qualified to preserve the record of those groundbreaking achievements. 

I hope you'll take this opportunity to learn more about our recent accomplishments and that we can count on your continued support for our important and valuable work.

Warm regards,

Neal Kane
Neal Kane
Chair

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LBFF

HistoryMakers: The History Project's
Inaugural Awards Event


Looking Back, Facing Forward


by Sarah Jensen

U.S. Congressman Barney Frank became the first recipient of THP's HistoryMaker Award given during the Looking Back, Facing Forward event held on June 5 at the Boston Athenaeum in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

LBFF
Presentation and wards ceremony, with our emcee, Pat Gozemba. Photo by Marilyn Humphries

Presented by History Project co-founder Pat Gozemba, the award recognizes Frank for his achievements on behalf of the LGBT community during his eight terms in Congress and, earlier, as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 

Speaking in absentia via a video created by Dickinson Associates, Frank said he was "enormously gratified" upon receiving the award. He recounted his experiences as a gay man in Congress and cited the effectiveness of the political process as well as activism in furthering LGBT awareness and equality. "I was the beneficiary of the bravery of the people at Stonewall," he said.

Looking Back, Facing Forward
History Project co-founder and board member Libby Bouvier with Gary Buseck, Lavender Rhino recipient Robbie Samuels, and History Project operations coordinator Andrew Elder and board member Tony Grima. Photo by Marilyn Humphries

The event also honored Boston-area activist and community organizer Robbie Samuels with its Lavender Rhino Award. Named after an early symbol of the Gay Liberation movement, the annual award recognizes an emerging activist or organization for its significant impact on the local LGBT community. Introduced by GLAD Legal Director Gary Buseck, Samuels said, "I'm a queer history buff, so it's quite an honor to be recognized by The History Project. I will strive to live up to the expectations of this award."  

Samuels is special events manager for GLAD. His many other achievements include a wide range of social change and community building activities, from working with the AIDS Action Committee to serving on the Fenway Community Health's consumer advocacy board to founding Socializing for Justice, a group committed to building a strong cross-issue progressive movement. Samuels expressed appreciation to the numerous organizations he's worked with since his involvement with the LGBT community began in 1994. "This award is accepted in honor of the work you do," he said.

LBFF
Richard Dickinson, Eric Lee, Mona Kumar, and History Project board member Stephen Nonack. Photo by Marilyn Humphries

The event also included the video debut of Documenting LGBT in Boston, a call to action for the support of THP's crucial role in preserving LGBT history. Narrated by Boston television news anchor Randy Price and created by Dickinson Associates, the video chronicles the legacy, struggles, and triumphs of the LGBT community through archival photographs from THP's collection. The evening culminated in a silent auction of items including Red Sox tickets, passes to area restaurants, and items from area jewelers.

"The event at the Athenaeum represented a major step forward for the organization," notes Neal Kane, chair of The History Project. "Recognizing the accomplishments of distinguished figures within Boston's LGBT community is a key dimension of our mission, and it was extremely gratifying to have both new and established supporters participate in this memorable evening." 

THP extends a special thank-you to those who helped make this event such a success.

 LBFF
Sue Hyde and Jade McGleughlin with History Project board member Amit Dixit. Photo by Marilyn Humphries

Trans
Documenting Boston's Transgender History

 
by Mesma S. Belsare

Did you know that the earliest record of a transgender rights organization may go back to 1895? Or that in 1954, Christine Jorgensen, a pioneer figure in transgender history, was prevented by the City of Boston from performing in a local night club? Or that 13 states and more than 100 cities and counties in the U.S. have passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and/or expression?
 
With our latest documentation initiative, The History Project is working to bring together these valuable fragments of history--moments that reveal a legacy of transgender people's involvement and leadership in movements for GLBT rights and social justice.
 
In early 2009, through the generous financial support of John Snow, Inc. (JSI), The History Project launched the Transgender Initiative, aimed at documenting the history of Boston's and Massachusetts' transgender community. With this project, we will chronicle the history of trans activism and trans movements, we will interview individuals who traverse the archetypal definitions of gender, and we will place Boston's transgender history within national and international historical narratives of transgender movements, communities, and individuals.

Members of Boston's transgender community and their supporters have taken the lead in directing and executing this undertaking. In May of 2009, we held a community forum for this initiative at United South End Settlements. Read the Bay Windows article about this forum. And while this project is still in its early stages, we are gaining momentum with the support of community members, volunteers, and THP supporters.
 
If you'd like to learn how to get involved with The History Project's Transgender Initiative, email me at mesmadance@yahoo.com or call 617.266.7733.

If you'd like to make a financial contribution to support this project, please visit our donation page at CommunityRoom.net or send a check to

The History Project
29 Stanhope Street
Boston, MA 02116

The History Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

JSI logo
This project is sponsored in part by a grant from JSI.



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Materials
Sorting Your "Stuff" & Telling Your Story


by Patricia A. Gozemba

Many in Boston's LGBT community from the Baby Boom era have collections of "stuff" in attics, basements, closets, storage lockers, and even on hard drives. This "stuff" is the memorabilia and history of an important period in the lives of all of us "improper Bostonians."

We are in danger of losing much of this important history to normal deterioration. Slides of the 1979 March on Washington or the 1975 Boston Pride March, of gatherings at the Punchbowl or late nights at Ken's at Copley Square, are slowly becoming less usable. T-shirts are yellowing, programs are falling apart, photos are fading, and home movies are becoming too brittle to be Joe Antonelli projected. Recently, Marilyn Humphries and I faced this hard reality as we worked on a video oral history of Joe Antonelli (65) about his life in the Boston and North Shore area.

Antonelli proved a great subject because he had saved many pieces of history (slides, photos, yearbooks, cocktail napkins, T-shirts, programs) but like most, his "stuff' was not organized, labeled, or preserved properly. We pushed him to do this by reminding him that if he didn't, when he died it would in all likelihood end up in a dumpster.

This is the challenge now to folks over 60--especially lesbians in our community--whose lives are largely undocumented. THP needs your history, and you are the skilled historian who can begin the process of reconstructing your past by organizing your artifacts and identifying people, dates, and places. No one knows this history as well as you.

Humphries and I are working with THP over the next year to record video oral histories with members of our community, especially lesbians over 50 years old, who have a history of participation in LGBT life in Boston from 1940 on. If you have materials that can help us to reconstruct your life, and LGBT life in the Boston area more generally, we would like to work with you. The process can begin as soon as you start organizing your "stuff"--the "stuff" that tells not only your story, but also the story of our community. Help us preserve this history and these stories for future generations.

If you would like to work with THP, please contact us. If you're willing to share your life on video and be interviewed, please get in touch with Andrew Elder at andrew.elder@historyproject.org or call 617.266.7733.

Patricia A. Gozemba and Marilyn Humphries along with Karen Kahn created Courting Equality (Beacon Press, 2007) www.courtingequality.com.


LBFF
THP co-founder Pat Gozemba with Joanne Herman and Grace Sterling Stowell at Looking Back, Facing Forward.
Photo by Marilyn Humphries


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The History Project Archives:
Collections Documenting GLBT Boston


What a year in the Archives.

Alex in the ArchivesOur interns from Simmons College's Library and Information Sciences masters program--Alexandra, Deirdre, and Eve--and our volunteers--Amy, Mark, Sarah, and so many others--arranged and described a number of collections, including papers from the Boston chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (with a near-complete run of this chapter's publication, Focus), the records (and scorecards!) from the Beantown Bowlers, and papers from Dignity-Boston and the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry. These collections are now organized and open to researchers. Please contact us to make an appointment to see them.

We've also been working with individuals and community organizations to include their records and collections as a permanent part of The History Project's archives of GLBT history. Some recent acquisitions include materials from the following organizations: SpeakOUT! Boston, Project 10 East, the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and Boston Gay Men's Chorus. We have also begun to work closely with BAGLY (the Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth) and with the MTPC (Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition) to preserve their records.

The History Project is always working to ensure the stories of Boston and Massachusetts' GLBT communities are accessible to future generations. To this end, we actively pursue the acquisition of new and diverse archival materials and collections. From recent happenings to pre-Stonewall history, the extensive archives of The History Project bring the complex history of Boston's GLBT communities to researchers and community members and contribute to local, national, and international dialogues on GLBT history.

Call for Materials:

We are actively seeking materials--photographs, letters, oral histories, publications, etc.--from Boston's lesbian community. We hope to mount a series of exhibitions highlighting the various and often overlooked aspects of this richly diverse community.

Please contact either Libby Bouvier at libby@historyproject.org or Andrea Still Gray at andreastill@msn.com, or call 617.266.7733.

We would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for recent donations of materials to The History Project Archives:

Rabbi Howard A. Berman, Donna Clifford and Dorothy Emerson, Bill Conrad, Janet Dendy, Rev. Anne Fowler, Bernie Gardella, Pat Gozemba, Amy Kennedy, Mary Kennedy, Andrew Kerivan, John Kyper, Michael LeClerc, Jim Lopata, Nancy Mansfield, Project 10 East, the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, Gunner Scott, SpeakOUT!, Peter Stickel, and Grace Sterling Stowell.

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Historic
The History Project Partners
with Historic New England

Beauport


by Stephen Nonack

On Saturday, September 26, a capacity crowd of 50 supporters and friends of THP met at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House in Eastern Point, Gloucester. It was a brilliant autumn afternoon at the house, one of nearly three dozen properties maintained in the region by Historic New England.

Our hosts were site manager Pilar Garro, and Ken Turino, manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions for HNE. The event marked a recent revamping of the script used by docents to interpret the house to include language noting that the designer and first owner of the house, Henry Davis Sleeper, was gay (a fact that had been covered in the History Project publication, Improper Bostonians, now for sale in the Sleeper-McCann House gift shop).
THP and Historic New England
Karen Porter, Harold du Four-Anderson, Jim Merola, and Josef Espinosa. Photo by Amit Dixit. To view more pictures, visit The History Project's fan page on Facebook.

Architectural historian Philip Hayden, who spoke at a reception on the terrace following tours of the house, wryly noted that given the fact that Sleeper, a "domestic bachelor," was America's first interior decorator, acknowledgment of his sexuality could come as a shock to no one experiencing Beauport in person.

The event also marked the first in a series of programmatic collaborations between The History Project and Historic New England, part of their "100 Years, 100 Communities" outreach marking HNE's centennial.

Look for more collaborations between The History Project and Historic New England in 2010.

Improper Bostonians, The History Project's landmark study of Boston's GLBT past, is available for purchase online through Amazon.com or by sending a check payable to The History Project in the amount of $13 (includes shipping and handling) to:

The History Project
29 Stanhope Street
Boston, MA 02116

From Improper Bostonians


Isabella Stewart Gardner at Eastern Point in Gloucester, with Henry Davis Sleeper (second from left) and A. Piatt Andrew Jr. (far right), c. 1909.







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Profile
Profile: Maureen Ryan, Volunteer


by Alison CaseMaureen P. Ryan

Maureen Ryan's association with The History Project began a year ago when she started tagging along with friend and THP staff person Andrew Elder to THP events. Before long, she was helping him stuff envelopes and occasionally giving him a lift in her car, Lightning, to pick up supplies. It was a logical next step, then, when Andrew asked Maureen to put her organizational skills to use as a more active volunteer.

Early in 2009, armed with an MS in library and information science from Simmons College and a love of all things Microsoft Excel, Maureen applied her talents to the smooth execution of last June's Looking Back, Facing Forward event. She contributed important ideas to the planning process, kept track of ticket sales and attendee information, and helped coordinate the activities of the other volunteers. She's currently co-chairing the committee to plan next year's awards event, HistoryMakers.

"The History Project gives me a chance to be involved in an organization that's not just maintaining a collection, but archiving the history of a continually active and evolving community," she says. "That's a particularly exciting challenge from a librarian's point of view." She feels the opportunities she has at THP contribute to her professional development, but says she's mainly involved because of the other volunteers, who appreciate her time, respect her interests, and are fun to be around.

Maureen moved to Boston from her hometown of Syracuse, New York, following stints working at the Syracuse University College of Law library and at her town library and local newspaper. Today, Maureen applies her love of organization to her job as a knowledge management analyst at investment firm Bain Capital, LCC.

When not working or volunteering, Maureen can be found cooking for her friends in her Jamaica Plain apartment, enjoying Boston's culinary and cultural treasures, or cautiously steering Lightning around the city's ubiquitous one-way streets.

Become a volunteer with The History Project! Email info@historyproject.org or call 617.266.7733 for more information.

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You Make History. We Preserve It.


HISTORY PROJECT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Luis Aponte-Pares | Craig Bailey | Mesma S. Belsare | Libby Bouvier
Orlando Del Valle | Amit Dixit | Tony Grima | Neal Kane
Stephen Nonack | Andrea Still Gray


The History Project


sponsored in part
by funding from

Massachusetts Cultural CouncilThe History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston
29 Stanhope Street  |  Boston, MA 02116
617.266.7733  |  info@historyproject.org