Monday, March 22, 2010

Do Your Own History

The following comment is a reminder of how important it is for you to preserve information about women's groups in which you are active, whether political, civil rights, artistic, craft, domestic skills, and so forth. Don't toss. Donate to your local library if you can't write a history. What you do is worth saving.

I was particularly pleased to receive this information because I know the online collection mentioned in the previous blog does not cover fully the significance of lesbian women in Sonoma County's movement for rights.

Dear Eclectic Reader:
I read your notes with great interest.

I spent last Saturday at an event that was, indeed, as much a celebration of National Women's History Project as well as of the life of the late Mary Ruthsdotter. I had the pleasure of working with Mary on Jolly's project, one of the outgrowths of this is LASC - Lesbian Archives of Sonoma County. We are a small but active group who are recording, via video=taped interviews of groups which lesbians initiated or coordinated. We are working on a twenty five year period from 1965 to 1995 and have inventoried more than sixty organizations, founded or worked on in the lesbian community ranging from restaurants and music venues, to political action groups to a collective counseling center (still in operation). To date we have interviewed the following groups: Penngrove Women's Center ; LVAC (Lesbian Voters Action Caucus; Brown Bag Readers Theatre; Moonrise Cafe;
Chrysallis Counseling Center and Minerva Productions. In addition to social events, LSAC sponsored an afernoon's conversation with Sally Gearhart and Phyllis Lyon.

For further information or to be placed on LSAC's email events list, write to LASC(at)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sonoma County Women's History

Several years ago the late Mary Ruthsdotter, one of the founders of the National Women's History Project, conceived of a history of the feminist movement in Sonoma County, where it was very active from the first stirrings. Having been part of that history, I was interviewed by Professor Michelle Jolly of Sonoma State University. Ruthsdotter spurred Jolly to do oral histories as part of a class she was teaching. With the help of the California Humanities, Jolly was also able to post some of the findings on a website, Sonoma Womens HIstory

One unexpected source concerns an index of newspaper articles from the Press Democrat between 1969 and 1978. Clicking a box in the graphical display offers the headline and particular source information. The first two articles in 1969 exquisitely reflect the cusp of change. One concerns a Candlelight Ball, while the other announces a luncheon for war mothers, this being the era of Vietnam. Skimming over later titles, one is reminded of the enormous commitment of women then to establish support groups in various fields, to rally against discrimination, to pressure for new laws, and more. Those of us who lived through that time wonder why that history has been relatively forgotten. How often do my cohort members comment upon the set belief of so many young California women that equality is here, when that is not the case? We feel cranky, but when I survey what we attempted, perhaps we deserve to feel such annoyance.