Lavender Legacies Guide: United States: District of Columbia

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George Washington University
Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
National Museum of American History
Rainbow History Project

Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library
: 2130 H St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20052
Phone: (202) 994-7549
Contact: Jennifer King jenking

Information about holdings: The Special Collections and University Archives collect and preserve materials relating to the history of the District of Columbia, focusing on Washington, D.C.'s diverse communities and its role as the nation's capital. The Washingtoniana Collection in particular documents the city's political, economic, social and cultural history. These historical materials cover the time period 1814 through 2005 with the bulk of the records falling within 1920-2000. 
As part of this collecting mission, Special Collections and University Archives actively seeks out and acquires the papers of prominent gay men, lesbians, and other members of LGBTQ communities who have had significant impacts on the cultural, political or social fabric of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Highlighted collections:
Joan E. Biren photograph collection, 1971-1991 This collection consists of photographs, both black and white and color used in the exhibit Queerly Visible, 1971-1991: The Work of JEB (Joan E. Biren), A Washington Photographer, which appeared at The Gelman Library's Special Collections Department from September 4, 1997-February 28, 1998. The captions that were used in the exhibit have been included with each photo. These images relate to the gay and lesbian community in Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States.
Tacie Dejanikus papers, 1967-1992 This collection contains correspondence, research notes, articles, pamphlets, periodicals, news clippings, audio cassette tapes, banners, tee shirts, books, buttons (informational artifacts) and photographs. These materials range in date from 1967- 90 (bulk 1975 -85). It includes organizational and personal staff information about the Off Our Backs collective, a feminist journal; activities, informational, and promotional material for social and civic activism groups including Women's Liberation Zap Action Brigade,"ZAP," the American University's Women's Union, women's health, health clinics and various feminist conferences; memorabilia from the National Committee to Free Sharon Kowalski, interviews and lectures of feminist writers, and a variety of feminist and lesbian publications. Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC records, 1981-2003 This collection contains receipts, financial records, marketing material, recordings, photographs, meeting minutes, fundraising records, and production records that document the work of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC. These records date from 1981-2003.
Washington Blade Lou Chibbaro senior reporter files, 1980-2000 The subjects covered in this collection are extremely varied and reflect the interests of the Gay and Lesbian community in Washington DC for approximately a twenty-year time span. These subjects include AIDS, political action, legal battles, celebrities, military service, hate crimes, and religion.
For a complete list of LGBTG:

Collecting interests
As part of this collecting mission, Special Collections and University Archives actively seeks out and acquires the papers of prominent gay men, lesbians, and other members of LGBTQ communities who have had significant impacts on the cultural, political or social fabric of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Use requirements:
Special Collections is open to the public.
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday hours TBD (starting Fall of 2011)
Site is wheelchair accessible.

Services: Research space
Reference assistance on site
Telephone reference
Internet reference (e-mail/web)
Copying services
Audiovisual facilities
Exhibitions Loan agreements for exhibits

Indices to the collection:
All processed collections have online finding aids available at (left side navigation: Start Your Research). Also all collections have a MARC record in the library’s online catalog and the finding aids are submitted to Archivegrid.

Updating Collection Descriptions:
We have a blog where we post new additions to the SCRC.

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Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Address: 801 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-383-1850; 202-383-1872 Contact: Yvonne Carignan,

The Rainbow History Project Archive at the Historical Society of Washington, DC, is the result of a partnership between the Historical Society and the Rainbow History Project, whose website states founding and mission as follows:
The Rainbow History Project formed November 4, 2000 in a meeting at the CyberStop Cafe on 17th Street NW (tolerant home of many of our meetings and oral history tapings!) following a notice placed by Mark Meinke in the Washington Blade. The notice came out of frustration at trying to identify archives and sources of information on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered history in metropolitan Washington DC. Five people showed up for that first Saturday meeting and decided to try organizing the history project; those attending were Mark Meinke, Charles Rose, Bruce Pennington, Jose Gutierrez, and James Crutchfield. The group's purpose has always been to preserve our community's memories. Among our highest priority initial projects was the capturing of community members' memories for an oral history project.
Our mission is to collect, preserve, and promote an active knowledge of the history, arts, and culture relevant to sexually diverse communities in metropolitan Washington DC.

Current Holdings: Size and Content:
The Rainbow History Project (RHP) began on November 4, 2000 during a meeting at CyberStop Café on 17th Street NW. The Project was organized by Mark Meinke and other individuals such as Charles Rose, Bruce Pennington, Jose Gutierrez, and James Crutchfield. The purpose of the group is “to collect, preserve, and promote an active knowledge of the history, arts, and culture relevant to sexually diverse communities in metropolitan Washington D.C.” Since its founding, RHP has collected archives and publications that document the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered community in Washington, DC, and beyond. RHP also provides access to its own archives and the history of the DC LGBT community at RHP continues to foster appreciated for LGBT history and culture, and partners with the Historical Society of Washington, DC, to collect and preserve related materials.
Scope and Content: Materials documenting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered (LGBT) communities in the greater Washington, D.C. area and United States. Contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, magazines, pamphlets, articles, case briefings, committee reports, and ephemera relating to discrimination, politics, LGBT organizations and leaders, AIDS, and the Quilt Project. Significant portions of the archives relate to David Aiken, Bruce Pennington, and the Gay Women’s Alternative (GWA).
Size: 3 cubic ft. (6 boxes)

Collection Growth:
Collecting Policy: In accordance with its mission, the Society collects a wide range of historical materials that document Washington’s social, economic, political, and physical development. The Society may consider the acquisition of any material that documents the history of the District of Columbia and actively seeks material that reflects the district’s social and ethnic diversity.
The Society’s collecting interests include the social and cultural history of the city, its physical development, business history, transportation, the establishment of neighborhoods and community organizations, political structure, regional history, relationship to national events, and international connections through diplomatic relations and immigration.
Specifically, the Society collects personal and family papers; records of neighborhood, fraternal, philanthropic, and cultural associations and institutions; records of local businesses, labor and professional organizations; graphic records of the city’s physical and architectural development; and material culture of the city and region. Since its collections are used primarily for research and exhibition, the Society emphasizes the acquisition of primary source materials. Secondary sources and reference materials support the core collections of primary sources and original objects.
The Society’s collections currently include printed materials, manuscripts, maps and atlases, objects, art work, artifacts, photographs, digital files, and audiovisual materials, including audiotapes of oral history interviews.
The Society cooperates with the collecting efforts of other organizations in the District, including the Washingtoniana Division of the D.C. Public Library and the Special Collections Department of Gelman Library, The George Washington University. This cooperation improves service to researchers and promotes economy, efficiency and good will within the community

Access and Use:
To comply with registration and reading room requirements, normal procedures for special collections library and archives.
Hours: 10-5, Tues – Saturday
Site is wheelchair accessible

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Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Address: Archives Center, MRC 601
National Museum of American History
Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012
Washington, D.C. 20013-0712
Phone: (202) 633-3270
Hours: The Archives Center is located in the National Museum of American History, corner of 14th St. and Constitution Avenue. We are open by appointment only, Monday through Thursday, 10-4. Open to students, researchers, instructors, and the interested public. Many of the finding aids and images are available through the Archives Center website and through the Smithsonian Institution Research System,

History: In support of the National Museum of American History’s mission, the Archives Center identifies, acquires, and preserves significant archival records in many media and formats to document America’s history and its diverse cultures. The Center staffs arrange, describe, preserve, and make collections accessible in support of scholarship, exhibitions, publications, and education.
We offer these services in a professionally managed reference center and through on-line databases, finding aids, and other forms of publication. We provide expert advice on archival practices and standards and, through educational outreach activities we strive to clarify the role that organized archives play in American life. The Center actively pursues alliances inside and outside the Institution, in recognition of the need for cooperation and financial support. Information about holdings: As of October, 2010: 1214 collections, totaling some 15,988 cubic ft. Subject strengths include the history of radio, television, telegraphy, computing, and other aspects of the history of technology with a special interest in the history of invention; advertising, marketing, and entrepreneurship; commercial visual ephemera (post cards, greeting cards); American music (sheet music, jazz) and musical instruments. These, and a wide range of other subjects, are documented in business records, personal papers, and extensive holdings of motion picture film, video and sound recordings, historical photographs, and oral histories. The Archives Center continues to add yearly to its holdings. Many holdings while not specifically tagged as LGBTQ may have material of interest to LGBTQ researchers.
Collections added in fiscal year 2010 totaled 392 cu. ft. of materials including 62 transfers, purchases and gifts. Among them were: Joan E. Biren (JEB) Queer Film Museum Collection #1216. Biren also donated a sizeable addendum to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection of personal LGBT memorabilia, posters, and items covering the time period 1971-2009. A complete set of the published reports produced by the Department of Defense Comprehensive Review Working Group detailing and analyzing the results of the Department of Defense’s recent survey on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was donated. Some of the collections relating to the LGBT community:
The Shamrock Bar: Photographs and Interviews, 1997-2003, #857, consists of photographer Carol Burch-Brown's photographs, tape-recorded interviews, and transcripts of interviews documenting a working-class gay bar in Bluefield, West Virginia.
John-Manuel Andriote Victory Deferred Collection, 1901-2008 #1128, John-Manuel Andriote interviewed numerous individuals for his 1999 book, Victory Deferred: how AIDS changed gay life in America, a comprehensive social history of the AIDS crisis. This collection contains interview tapes, transcripts, and other materials related to the research and writing of his book.
Division of Science, Medicine, and Society HIV/AIDS Reference Collection, 1979-2006, #1134, consists of pamphlets, books, and a wide variety of printed matter and ephemera relating to HIV/AIDS. The collection was assembled principally by Ramunas “Ray” Kondratas, a curator at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection #1146 contains many items of interest to the historical researcher. The collection contains a variety of LGBT related periodicals dating from the 1950s to the present day including a complete run of ONE magazine. The collection also includes material from a broad range of LGBT organizations documenting the LGBT presence in communities throughout the United States. The collection includes material donated by noted lesbian photographer and independent video maker JEB (Joan E. Biren).

Time periods/geographical regions documented:
Holdings are specific to the entire United States with some material related to organizations or individuals outside of the United States and cover the period 1953 through the present. LGBTQ holdings predominately cover the east and west coasts.

Significant people/organizations/subjects documented:
To numerous to mention, see on-line finding aids for detailed listings of organizations and individuals. Also consult the Smithsonian Institution Research System,

Collecting interests: Specifically we collect primary source material and ephemera from LGBTQ persons, community organizations, and businesses throughout the United States. We also collect photographs, film, and material from persons identified with the LGBTQ community and the on-going fight for civil rights.

Use requirements:
Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an “as needed” basis, as resources allow. Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Collection items are available for reproduction. The Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff. For a fee, research assistance and duplication services are available to off-site researchers. Please contact the Archives Center for additional information.
Exhibition Loans: Borrowing institutions must be a Smithsonian Institution affiliate. Smithsonian lending and access agreements required.

Finding Aids / Indices:
Finding aids and a complete listing of collections are on the Archives Center website.

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The Rainbow History Project
PO Box 12075
Washington DC 20005
Phone: (202) 907-9007
Internet address: 
Contact: Philip Clark (
Hours: By appointment only. Open to students, researchers, instructors, and the interested public. Many of the documents and images are available through the virtual archives maintained on the organization's website.

Founder: Rainbow History was organized on November 4, 2000 by Mark Meinke who convened a group of five co-founders. The mission of Rainbow History is to collect, preserve, and promote the history and culture of metropolitan Washington, DC's GLBTQ community. Bylaws and tax information are available on the website at

Information about holdings:
Rainbow History uses its website as a virtual archive for important documents, images, and research that it wishes to make widely available to the GLBTQ community, reasearchers, and interested parties.

Collections assembled by Bruce Pennington (GLF, Stonewall Nation Media Collective, BWMT-DC) and David Aiken (primarily materials assembled for his articles in the Advocate), and a small collection of DC Lesbian Avenger materials.

Pennington materials include 1/4" reeel to reel broadcasts of the Frineds radio program (1972-1981) and a collection of t-shirts from direct action groups.

Aiken collection includes extensive clipping collection on gender and racial bias, sodomy laws, etc.

Extent of Manuscripts:

  • David Aiken Papers (1 record storage carton)
  • Eva Freund Papers (1 record storage carton)
  • Paul Kuntzler Papers (1 record storage carton)
  • Bruce Pennington Papers (1 record storage carton)

Extent of Audiovisual Materials:

  • Friends Radio (1973-1982) collection of 1/4" reel-to-reel broadcast tapes (310 tapes)
  • Joan E Biren collection of lesbian and women's music audiotapes (90 tapes).

Extent of Records:

  • Corporate records of Gay Women's Alternative (2 boxes)
  • National Coalition of Black Gays (1 box)
  • Mattachine Society of Washington (1 file box)
  • Gertrude Stein Democratic Club (1 folder)
  • Miscellaneous papers of the East Coast Homophile Organization, Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations, the Washington Academy Awards (drag).

Extent of Photographs:

  • Jack Nichols' photo collection gay activism of the 60s). 
  • Patsy Lynch photo collection (marches on Washington, AIDS protests, Pride events) 
  • Robert Dardano Pride photos.

Extent of Books:

  • Robert Summersgill collection of Mattachine Review, One, the Ladder, Vector and related publications.
  • The Furies newspaper volumes 1 and 2.
  • Blacklight, 1979 - 1983.
  • BLK, individual issues.
  • The Washington Blade, 1975 - 2005
  • Metro Weekly, incomplete collection 1991 - 2007.
  • Washington Academy Awards event programs, 1976 - 2007.

Extent of Ephemera:

  • AIDS and activist t-shirts, 1985 - 1995. 
  • Buttons and pins, local and national events. 
  • Bar tokens. 
  • PFLAG-DC march and picket signs. 

Time periods/geographical regions documented
Holdings are specific to the metropolitan D.C. area and cover the period 1961 through present.

Significant people/organizations/subjects documented
Mattachine Society of Washington; Mattachine Society, Inc.; Franklin E. Kameny & Kameny for Congress campaign; Gay Liberation Front-DC; Gay Activists Alliance/DC; National Coalition of Black Gays; Third World Conference, 1979; March on Washington, 1979; Gay Women's Open House; the Furies collective; Friends Radio; Speakeasy radio program; Lesbian Avengers-DC; ENLACE; Summary of Lesbian/Gay Content: please see the Rainbow History website at

Collecting interests
Not currently collecting because of a lack of space and archival expertise.

Use requirements 
Oral histories are available on signing of a release form and provision of audiotapes for copying. The narratives are not yet transcribed.

Exhibition Loans
Lending and access agreements required.

Borrowing Policy
At Rainbow History's discretion.

Finding Aids / Indices
Several finding aids are listed on the website.

New additions are listed on the website and in the annual report.