I’m just about finishing up at the GLBT Historical Society and I’m already getting to see some positive first uses of the newly reprocessed and renovated ephemera collection.
John Raines has been digitizing some great historical and just plain fun audio tape and video collections from the archives, some of which is already available online via his Gayback Machine. Now and then he hears or views something that has no date, place or people’s full names associated to it, so he consults event programs, invitations and fliers from the ephemera collection to figure it out. Pretty neat! It has been great to see how quickly John can find the materials and then use them to more accurately describe the audio and visual content he deals with.
Ephemera here gets a lot of this kind of “filling in the gaps” use. David Reichard at California State University Monterey Bay has spoken with the managing archivist Rebekah Kim and I about the materials he has found specifically in ephemera files, including those of many student LGBT organizations and other small, short-lived but impactful LGBT groups. He finds them useful for linking oral histories with printed documentation. He is writing an article on the subject that I’m really looking forward to reading.
For my final object from the collection, I’ll share these unblown-up balloons from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance at Stanford’s Gay and Lesbian Awareness Week celebration, “Out On The Farm,” May 7-15. You can’t get much more ephemeral than a helium balloon at an event and I’m glad these little guys didn’t go that route and can still be with us today. The awareness week was in 1982, when a proposed “re-discrimination” ordinance, Measure B, was proposed and defeated in Palo Alto. The balloons were tucked away in a blank business letter envelope and can now be found in mylar sleeves, next to fliers and programs for the week in the Stanford University ephemera files. I hope that mylar is the preferred method of preservation, anyone who has dealt with the archiving of balloons, let me know– SJSU did not prepare me for this!