OLA’s Amazing Year Jan-Sept 2019

OUR AMAZING YEAR SO FAR—2019

by Phebe (Karen) Beiser, Co-Founder & Co-Director

In January Annabelle & Phebe spoke to the monthly PFLAG meeting. We also had an Ohio State University librarian come to see our collection; she was very interested in our three feminist bookstore collections.
February saw two researchers. On February 22nd, Laura flew into town from NYC to research what would become a film starring Cincinnati’s own Michael Chanak.
Great Big Story, an award-winning global media company owned by CNN, eventually released “The Words Matter: One Voice Can Make a Difference.” Michael initiated the struggle for inclusion of sexual orientation in Procter & Gamble’s nondiscrimination policy in 1987. You can view the documentary on YouTube. We congratulate Michael for his dedicated work early on as well as his continuing support for the Archives!
Ken Schenk, author of the book LGBTQ Cleveland, came to research what will become LGBTQ Cincinnati. The book will be released for Pride next June and Ken will come to Cincinnati for a reception.
March and April allowed us to rest and enjoy the beginning of spring …..
In May Phebe recorded a podcast interview (to be aired in the summer) with Chris Fortin of OutCincinnati (Radio Artifact). He and Melissa interviewed her about the Ohio Lesbian Archives history and collection. She also spoke to a CItyBeat reporter which developed into …..
June
….. the lead article in its annual Pride Issue. The Archives had two pages of publicity!
Panels telling the stories of “50 Years of LGBTQ History in Greater Cincinnati” were borrowed by the downtown public library for the first ever display for Pride Month. Second Sunday in Main (OTR) showed the panels during its focus on Pride. The panels were created by Nancy Yerian/Vibrant Kin (with grant money from People’s Liberty) and displayed at Pride 2017, NKU, Mt. Auburn Presbyterial Church, and OutReels 2018.
On June 15th, a contingent of lesbian and gay activists from Dayton traveled to OLA to see our collection. They were beginning the Greater Dayton LGBTQ+ Her/Herstory Project. Jerry Lyndon Mallicoat interviewed and recorded Phebe for StoryCorps’ focus on lgbtq people for the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall.
Orie Givens of Spectrum News (Columbus) drove down June 20th to do a video interview on the Archives. Phebe and a young African American lesbian visitor spoke for this newscast.
The Taft Museum invited Vic Ramstetter and Phebe Beiser to do a talk for its monthly Women’s Luncheon on June 26th. Phebe created a PowerPoint showing people and items associated with OLA’s herstory. The event was well-attended and longtime supporters and friends Maggie & Mary treated them to lunch at the Café.
July saw new volunteers Deb Meem and Michelle Gibson, a power couple of PhD retired professors from the University of Cincinnati. Deb was Director of Women’s Studies, Gender, & Sexuality. Wow! Deb was responsible for hanging up most of the artwork in the Archives in preparation for our Open House September 7th.
In August Victoria Ramstetter and Phebe Beiser (founders & directors of the Archives) were interviewed twice – 1) WVXU 91.7 FM, Michael Monks’ “Inside Edition” program on Cincinnati happenings (27th) and 2) an hour+ video interview for Ohio History Connection, part of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus. Video done as part of celebrating the 100th anniversary since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. The organization is focusing on telling the story of over 100 years of women’s activism. It will take the form of an exhibit that will travel the state. Our interview is part of an oral history with current female leaders and activists in Ohio. Vic and Phebe shared their decades of activism.
Saturday, September 7th 6-9:30pm: The 30th Anniversary of the Ohio Lesbian Archives! Since our beginning in 1989 in a 3rd floor room above the Crazy Ladies Bookstore, the Archives has been collecting books, periodicals, music, photographs, posters, and realia focusing on lesbian history. We include GBTQ histories and other materials as well. More than a reference library, OLA is evolving into a museum with trophies, political buttons, statues, a labyris, and gay history card games. We are the only known collection of its kind in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana region. Our Celebration is at Clifton United Methodist Church in the meeting room on the lower level. We are proud to have a room in a church of an accepting congregation. This marks our 13th year here.

Upcoming Event: Mary MacMillan, Lesbian Poet

Join the Ohio Lesbian Archives December 11 to hear about the life of Mary MacMillan, a Lesbian poet who lived in the Cincinnati area in the early 20th century.

Black and white photograph of Mary MacMillan, facing left of frame, wearing hat, loose suit jacket, and a long necklave which she is holding in her right hand.

Mary MacMillan, 1928

Urban historian Anne Delano Steinert will present her ongoing research on local lesbian poet Mary MacMillan. Born in Ross Ohio in 1870, MacMillan studied at Wells College and Bryn Mawr before returning to Cincinnati around the turn of the century. Here she completed a number of historical essays, published poems in six national magazines, compiled her own book of verse entitled The Little Golden Fountain, worked for women’s right to vote, and held influential roles in several local organizations including the MacDowell Society and the Ohio Valley Poetry Society. As president of the Ohio Valley Poetry Society, MacMillan corresponded with many authors of national acclaim including Edna St. Vincent Millay who ultimately visited MacMillan here at her home on Telford Avenue in Clifton in 1927.

As her poems detail, the love of MacMillan’s life was University of Cincinnati Dean of Women, Loueen Pattee, who died suddenly at age 46 in 1922 after only four years in Cincinnati with MacMillan. Before coming to Cincinnati, Pattee had run a girls’ school in Munich, staying on to work at a Red Cross hospital at the outbreak of World War I. Pattee is listed as MacMillan’s “partner” in the 1920 census taken of their Telford Avenue address. This talk will be a presentation of work in progress followed by a discussion of the research presented and feedback on ways to move forward with the work.

The talk will take place 4pm, December 11 in the upstairs parlor room of Clifton United Methodist Church on the corner of Clifton Ave and Senator Place (3416 Clifton Ave). Parking is available in the lot behind the church on Senator Place. Donations to the Ohio Lesbian Archives greatly appreciated.

View the Facebook event.

Cataloging DINAH

A couple weeks ago, we finished cataloging Dinah.

Photograph of eight piles of a multi-colored newsletter sitting on a table, each with an index card indicating a date range between 1975 and 1997.

Dinah organized by date and ready to be cataloged.

I like to think of Dinah as one of the crown jewels of the Archives’ collection. The local lesbian newsletter ran from 1975 to 1997, an impressive feat considering nearly every issue had a call for help. Writing, compiling, publishing, printing, and distributing a work like Dinah was incredibly difficult on a shoestring budget with a volunteer staff who never had enough time. Dinah’s pages constantly asked readers for donations to afford paper to print the next issue, or repair the broken mimeograph machine or printer, or even contributions of the time and energy necessary to get copies in the mail.

But somehow, for over twenty years and 100 issues, Dinah survived. Cincinnati women wrote articles, short stories, poetry, and letters. They discussed the meanings of womanhood, lesbianism, race, family, sex, music, and literature. They planned events, meetings, and potlucks. They organized against discrimination and domestic violence, empowering each other on local and global political issues. They won the city league softball championship. They created community, and they recorded it all in the pages of Dinah.

Dinah is a unique and invaluable resource for researchers and community members interested in Cincinnati history, lesbian herstory, community-making, and feminist history. Because of the richness of the stories this newsletter tells, the OLA is committed to preserving it for future generations. The online catalog we are creating — figuring out exactly what we have and writing it all down so you know too — is part of this. Another step is making sure all materials are stored properly to slow down deterioration. For Dinah, that means putting the newsletter into acid-free, lignin-free, high-quality archival folders.

Photograph of metal file cabinet drawer pulled out to reveal 2.5 feet of a multi-colored newsletter placed neatly in manila folders.

Dinah replaced in her drawer in non-archival folders for temporary storage.

If you would like to volunteer your time to help us complete the catalog, or donate money for materials, you can contact us at OLArchives@gmail.com. You can help us make sure Dinah survives for many years to come!

June activity!

Maybe it’s because June is Pride Month but whatever the reason, the Archives had an out of town visitor and I have a panel discussion coming up.

Last Thursday, I met Sharon Deevey, from greater Columbus, Ohio. We had met a few times in the past–at the Ohio Lesbian Festival and at Miami University when there was a panel on the 1970’s. She just loves research and had had it on her list to come visit OLA. As serendipity would have it, her eyes landed on an issue of The Furies, a radical feminist newspaper from 1970’s. We had nine issues and one was quite rare! She excitedly called her good friend, former comrade, and ex JEB (Joan E. Biren of photography fame). Joan was in the process of donating her works to her alma mater. (She had been a member of The Furies and recently noticed the missing issue in going through her collection).

Sharon and I had a great time chatting about the 70’s over lunch. By the time we had returned to the Archives, I urged her to take the missing issue (and the entire stack of issues). As a former librarian, I knew in the importance of complete collections. The Ohio Lesbian Archives will be credited as the source for this rare issue. Vic and I realize we can’t be all things to all lesbians; our space in the Clifton United Methodist Church basement is filled enough without maintaining Everything Lesbian. Sharon vows she will return to view more of our collection. She was a great contact and we had a fulfilling visit all the way around.

Tonight I will be one of several speakers at the local N.O.W. meeting. I have 5-10 minutes to inform the audience about OLA. Ten minutes isn’t much so it’s even more crucial to be concise. My personal mission is to entice a few women to make a visit. I fear someone will ask how many books and magazines we have in the collection. Sharon did and I admitted our inventory was too dated to be accurate. WE NEED AN INTERN!  Any student out there who wants to get some independent study credit during the summer? I’d open the Archives once a week for you. Remember to stay proud of who you are!

~ Phebe Beiser