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Public LGBT Archives in Houston

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ReadingRoom
The reading room at the Houston Transgender Archive

Public LGBT Archives in Houston

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The Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of GLBT History, Inc. (GCAM). 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Established 1999. Curator: Judy Reeves. Website: gcam.org. By appointment only. Contact Judy at [email protected] or 832/722-5785 to view exhibits or schedule a talk for your club or community organization. Membership dues $25/year. Meetings held first Monday of each month at Montrose Counseling Center, 401 Branard, 1st floor, in room 117 at 7 p.m. Visitors welcome. The largest of Houston’s LGBT archives, GCAM’s holdings include both documents and artifacts.

The Charles Botts Collection. Supported by private bequest. Established 1980s. Director: Larry Criscione. By appointment only. Contact Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church at mccr @ airmail.net or 713/861-9149. Housed at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, 2025 West 11th Street. Charles Botts died in the early 1990s, leaving a bequest for the maintenance of his extensive personal collection of gay and lesbian literature dating back to the 19th century, as well as a large collection of letters, brochures, clippings, books, periodicals and newspapers.

The Houston Transgender Archive. 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Established 2008. Website: tgctr.org/archive.shtml. Open weekdays 1–4 p.m. Transgender Foundation of America Center, 713 Fargo, Houston. Call 713/520-8586 to schedule a guided tour. Entrance free, donations appreciated. Holdings include documents and artifacts, including rare and unusual items, such as transgender statues from diverse cultures, transgender magazines back to 1750, original newspapers reporting transgender history back to 1825, transgender books back to the 1600s, original transgender photos back to the pre-Civil War era, and other artifacts back as far as the Roman Empire.

Phyllis Frye’s Online Archives. Phyllis Frye, the “grandmother of the national transgender legal and political movement,” has archived the proceedings from the 1992 through 1996 International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy. The documents contain information about early trans pioneers, shapers of policy, and how the grassroots movement began. For more information: liberatinglaw.com.

The Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project. Researcher and Archivist: Arden Eversmeyer, founder of Houston LOAF (Lesbians Over Age Fifty). Eversmeyer conducted more than 150 oral histories of senior lesbians and filled notebooks with supporting documents about the lives of those interviewed. She also maintains the LOAF lending library of books and films. Contact: loafers_inc @ yahoogroups.com.

The OutSmart Archives. Owner: Up and Out Communications. Website: outsmartmagazine.com. By appointment. Call 713/520-7237. Up and Out Communications, publisher of OutSmart, maintains an archive of back issues of all their publications, as well as many supporting documents from published articles, in their offices at 3406 Audubon Place, Houston. All OutSmart issues from 1996 to the present are also available online at www.outsmartmagazine.com/cms-home/archives.html.

Houston Public Library. Holdings include the activist papers of Mort Schwab, early organizational files from Texas Log Cabin Republicans, a thesis by Bruce Remington titled “12 Fighting Years: Homosexuals in Houston, 1969-1981,” and numerous newspaper clippings in the vertical files.

University of Houston Library. Holdings include two private book collections donated to the library — a 700-book gay male collection and a 500-book lesbian collection. Also housed at the library is a thesis titled “Strength in Numbers: Houston’s Gay Community and the AIDS Crisis” and the audio interviews used to write “12 Fighting Years,” featuring activists Pokey Anderson, Lee Harrington, Steve Shiflett, Larry Bagneris, Don Sanders, Dennis Milam, Mort Schwab, and Dee Lamb. City Controller Annise Parker has donated her campaign papers to the Library’s Women’s Archive. Downtown location: 500 McKinney, 832/393-1313, www.hpl.lib.tx.us. Freed-Montrose branch: 4100 Montrose Blvd., www.houstonlibrary.org/branches/mon_home.html, 832/393-1800.

The Robert J. Terry Library at Texas Southern University. Open seven days a week. See website for hours: www.tsu.edu/about/library. Holdings include the papers of lesbian politician Barbara Jordan, who broke barriers as the first black woman state senator in Texas and was later elected to the United States Congress. Also at this library are the papers of longtime law professor and local gay rights activist Dr. Gene Harrington.

Rice University GLBT Studies Student Interviews. Each semester, Dr. Brian Riedel’s Rice University Introduction to GLBT Studies class works in groups of four and conducts interviews with GLBT community activists. After class presentations, the interviews are stored on DVDs. Course contact: 713/348-2162.

Houston PFLAG Archive. A dozen PFLAG filing cabinets are located in their office at the Montrose Counseling Center Building. They house 30 years of information about events and meetings, historical items, and a collection of coming-out stories. PFLAG location addresses: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church’s Jones Building, 5501 S. Main, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s Chatham Room, 1805 W. Alabama. Contact: 713/46P-FLAG (467-3524), www.pflaghouston.org.        

Houston ARCH. Houston Area Rainbow Collective History seeks to digitally perserve, collect, and communicate the culture and history of LGBTQ communities in the Houston area, with the bulk of the collections dating from the 1970s to the present. 713/348-2162, www.houstonarch.pbworks.com.

Han-Net Online Archive. Online postings to the Houston Activist Network discussion listserv are still available online through Yahoo Groups. The postings, from 1998 to 2003, are now owned by GCAM.

Mary’s Bar. Open to the public during business hours. 1022 Westheimer. Open 7 days, 7 a.m.–2 a.m. In the Patio Out Back behind Mary’s Bar is a small garden where the ashes of original owner Fanny Farmer were scattered. Countless other victims of AIDS asked to have their ashes similarly disposed of. The actual bar tops at Mary’s display hundreds of photos of the past beneath them, protected by an acrylic coating.

Chase Bank Trophy Case. Open to the public during business hours. 712 Main. The trophy case in Chase Bank’s historic art deco lobby in downtown Houston includes numerous trophies and awards won by the firm’s PRIDE Team.     

Bar Trophy Cases. Several local bars — EJ’s at 2517 Ralph, 611 at 611 Hyde Park, the Brazos River Bottom (BRB) at 2400 Brazos, the Ripcord at 715 Fairview, and Mary’s at 1022 Westheimer — host trophy cases. A door-sized cowboy painting that hung in the entrance to the Exile bar for decades will soon be on permanent loan from GCAM to the BRB. The painting was identified and rescued by GCAM from a private home. Mr. BRB, Steven Bunch, is working to raise funds to mount it safely and securely behind Plexiglas on a wall at the BRB.

Local Cemeteries. Washington Cemetery features an historic marker noting the grave of transgender Civil War solider Emma Seelye. Glenwood Cemetery is the resting place of many community figures, including florist Leonard Tharp, hairdresser Lyndon Johnson, and long-time Diana Foundation president Charles Hebert. Partners Jim Shelton and David Bales share a bronze headstone there with the inscription: “I say if it’s love, the Lord won’t mind.” The Mission Mausoleum at Forest Park Westheimer houses numerous glass-front niches wherein the ashes of same-sex partners rest. Forest Park Lawndale has a gigantic granite book upon which the names of local AIDS victims are engraved.

Community Organization Online Archives. Numerous local organizations host websites. Many of these websites include an online archive of the group’s history.

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