The CSUDH Gerth Archives and Special Collections has been awarded two grants to assist in cataloguing several of its notable collections.
The archives received a $100,000 grant from the California State Library to support CSUDH’s LGBTQ History Access Project. The funds will enable the archives to hire an archivist to catalog, arrange, and describe several collections related to the Southern California LGBTQ community. They will also allow the Gerth Archives to stage a speaker’s series related to the collections.
“The Archives is very pleased that we were able to get the grant because there are a limited number of prominent LGBTQ archives in the state,” says Greg Williams, director of the Gerth Archives. “It’s nice that we were recognized among them.”
The collections at CSUDH include a large number of historic LGBTQ publications, newsletters, as well as personal papers of activists. “We’re also hoping to be able to transcribe some oral histories that we have been collecting related to lesbians and their jobs,” adds Williams. “To that end, we’re also including many of our tradeswomen collections in this process. It’s exciting for us to finally get some of these collections processed and organized.”
In announcing the grant, State Librarian Greg Lucas said, “There are many stories that explain who California is and who we’re becoming. The contributions of the LGBTQ+ community and the evolution in California’s attitudes toward them are important stories to share. This grant will help do that.”
The Gerth Archives also received a $40,000 grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation to begin the cataloguing of the L.A. Free Press collection that the archives received in 2021. The collection had belonged to Art Kunkin, the publisher and editor of the Free Press from its inception in 1964 until 1972. When Kunkin passed away in 2019 at the age of 91, his daughter chose the Gerth Archives due to their dedication to archiving alternative voices from the local community.
“The L.A. Free Press was really one of the first newspapers for the community during the 1960s,” says Williams. “It was the first publication to start presenting points of view that the L.A. Times wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. They not only had their own political slant, but they also supported the Black community, the Chicano community, and the LGBTQ community in a variety of ways.
“We’re very excited that the prestigious Haynes Foundation continues to support our archive. This is the third Haynes Foundation grant we’ve won in five years. They’re focused in on the history of Los Angeles, and the L.A. Free Press Collection certainly represents an important part of that history.”