This week I finalized and submitted the first draft of my Philadelphia LGBTQ sites assessment spreadsheet for internal review within the Park Service, and attended a meeting with Bonnie's team. I also created a structured map of the sites list, and used that as I began taking pictures of the sites. On Thursday I also connected with Chris Beagan, Frank Futral, and the LGBTQ Resource Group's intern, Jasmine Baskin. Later this afternoon I will be attending a webinar which will serve as an introduction to the Nevada LGBTQ Archives.
Monday through Wednesday of this week I put the final touches on the spreadsheet with the list of Philadelphia's LGBTQ sites prior to submitting that list Wednesday afternoon. This involved continuing my efforts to adequately organize the list, and ensuring that the narrative sections for each site were as thorough as possible prior to review. One such site was the Kiyoshi Kuromiya residence, which had a solid overview, but did not necessarily emphasize its national significance as well as I liked. I will especially look forward to receiving feedback on sites like this. Wednesday, as I drafted the email to send with the list, I described my methodology in selecting certain sites over others. This especially involved explaining how I achieved 59 sites on the list from the over 1,000 currently on Bob Skiba's mapping project. This was a valuable exercise in reflecting on how I do this work, and how to articulate that to others. I explained that of those 1,000+ sites, only 220 are within the city of Philadelphia, and from there I excluded sites of singular events, like a picnic in a park. I also explained that I did not include sites with significance more recent than 1990, so I could include the sites associated with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980's, while still maintaining temporal distance.
A photo of the Kiyoshi Kuromiya property. Kuromiya, an Asian American anti-Vietnam war activist, Civil Rights and Gay Rights activist lived here between 1985-1997. During his time here, he founded the Critical Path Project, which provided free internet and information about HIV/AIDS to people with AIDS during the 1990s.
Tuesday morning, Bonnie and her team had a meeting to check in, and particularly to discuss an upcoming presentation that Sarah Killinger will be giving on Collaboration and Cooperation in Plattsburgh, NY. This presentation will involve addressing how offices throughout the region have contributed to projects in other areas. To provide examples from the Philadelphia office, Sarah asked what projects people within the office have contributed to in the Plattsburgh area specifically. This was an interesting experience, as it showed me how the various offices throughout the Northeast Region work together, and it also showed how Bonnie's team works together and supports one another to prepare for such presentations.
Wednesday I took the sites from my spreadsheet and loaded them into a three-tiered Google Map to help me locate them more easily when I went out to photograph them. This involved typing in their addresses, color coding them in the same way I did the spreadsheet (blue - NHL/NRHP potential, green - NRHP or uncertain, red - local significance), and including their narratives. As outlined above, I also finalized the spreadsheet, provided an explanation of my methodology, and submitted the spreadsheet to the folks at NPS who will be reviewing the list prior to July 13th.
On Thursday, I took my Google Map of sites and focused on photographing the sites I coded blue, for likely NRHP or NHL potential. I photographed all but one, the Clark Polak residence in North Philly, as I ran out of time prior to a phone call appointment I had at 3PM. It was wonderful to be out and about, finding these actual properties and photographing them. This provided a much greater impression of which structures are the originals from the period of significance, and which were not. For example, what I believed was once the Janus Society offices was mistaken. I believed that the offices were replaced by a Westin Hotel, when in reality, the offices were across the street, and now a park. This unfortunately means that the building was still demolished, but the clarity was appreciated. When I return from my trip next week, I hope to get back out to photograph the green-coded properties, and then the red ones.
Thursday afternoon I had a brief, introductory phone call with Chris Beagan, Frank Futral, and Jasmine Baskin. Chris wanted Jasmine and me to meet and establish contact so we can exchange ideas and information that might be beneficial to one another's work. Given her background in outreach-type projects, I very much look forward to working with Jasmine in the near future.
Later this afternoon I will be attending an online webinar introduction to the Nevada LGBTQ Archives. I do not yet know the details of the webinar, but it will certainly provide an excellent opportunity to see what LGBTQ work is being done in the Park Service across the country.
This week I conducted my memory mapping outreach project at Philadelphia's PrideFest, I met with Helen and Bonnie to check in on next steps, continued filling in and then organizing the spreadsheet of Philadelphia LGBTQ historic sites, and stayed on top of current events in Philadelphia's LGBT Community.
Sunday, June 18th, was Philadelphia's PrideFest at Penn's Landing and, as planned, I conducted the memory mapping project at the William Way Community Center outreach booth. I have counted thirty-six pins on the map, which includes a few repeated pins. Despite the modest turnout represented quantitatively by the pins, there were considerably more people who visited the map, asked about it, and expressed interest and appreciation for it. Those who approached me but did not add pins to the map were often folks not from Philadelphia. There were also groups of people who would approach, but would collectively contribute one pin. I asked participants where they first felt connected to Philadelphia's LGBT community, and when. I received answers as people (Mel Heifetz and Carmen Lewis), bars (Sisters, Dirty Frank's, Woody's), events (Pride/Fest, first crushes), institutions (AIDS Fund, William Way, University of Pennsylvania LGBT Center, Temple University, Trans Health Conference), and even churches (United Methodist Church in Germantown). This is useful because, although most of the pins are consolidated within Center City, there is variety in the kinds of spaces submitted. These different answers imply the different spaces that participants consider important, and that judgment of value is one I will keep in mind as I continue to assess sites.
Tuesday morning, I met with Helen and Bonnie individually to check in and discuss where the project is headed. My meeting with Helen was largely to check in, discuss how PrideFest went and where things stand with site assessment, and we also discussed the exhibit to be done in partnership with William Way. My meeting with Bonnie largely regarded the spreadsheet of sites. Bonnie and I met along this same line Thursday. Tuesday she suggested I look for which of these sites are already on the National Register in some capacity, or have any preservation/commemorative status, and also that I start to organize it, not just alphabetically as I had been, but also by nomination potential. We also established that I will be submitting the list for internal review within the Park Service next Wednesday, June 28th. The list of people I reached out to is as follows: Bonnie, Chris Beagan with the Olmsted Center in Boston, Megan Springate in D.C., Susan Ferentinos, and Amanda Casper. Thursday I spoke with Bonnie again for additional pointers on how to ensure I submit the best possible version of this list. She was very helpful in providing some optic suggestions, and other points to better refine the list which I have since followed.
Along these lines, I did spend most of my time this week working on the list. This involved adding new sites (birthplace and possible residence for Clark Polak), discovering better locations for sites (namely BEBASHI), and researching any ways in which certain sites on my list might already have preservation/commemorative status. In addition to these points, I also started organizing and refining the list in preparation for its submission next Wednesday, June 28th. The newest place added to the list was Clark Polak's birthplace/childhood home at 3719 Pulaski Street and a potential residence of his at 215 Locust Street. Polak was the president of the Janus Society between 1963 and 1969 when it disbanded, and also the organization's president which defied other homophile groups' respectability politics, taking a more radical attitude of sexual liberation. Polak was also the editor for the Janus Society's newsletter, Drum, which was the most widely distributed homophile publication in the 1960s. Regarding BEBASHI, I found the organization's original location at 1319 Locust Street. I also discovered that the Barbara Gittings residence at 241 S. 21st St. is already on the National Register as part of the Hockley Row historic rowhouses. The rowhouse at 241 S. 21st St. we converted into individual housing units, and Gittings lived in one of these with Kay Tobin Lahusen between 1961 and 1967. Organizationally, I have structured the list by nomination potential. If I think a site has a case for national significance or for the National Register it is colored blue. If I think it might have a case but I am not sure, it is green. If I think the significance is strictly local, I color it red. I have also noted whether a building is demolished under the "building type/property type" heading, as it makes better sense to note that there.
With regard to current events, the most significant event was the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court's refusal to reconsider its decision in an anti-bias dispute with SEPTA at the city of Philadelphia's request. SEPTA argued that it was not subject to Philadelphia's Fair Practice Ordinances because it is a state agency that operates outside of just the city. In April the high court sided with SEPTA in a 4-3 vote, and in May attorneys from the city requested that the court reconsider, arguing that SEPTA is not exempt from all anti-bias complaints handled by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. This week the State Supreme Court upheld its decision. Civil-rights attorney, Justin Robinette, expressed he was not surprised by the decision, but he did not approve of it. He further expressed concerns over SEPTA's own anti-bias policy, which the organization claims are LGBT inclusive. Robinette stated, "SEPTA reassures us they would never discriminate against LGBT people," Robinette noted. "However, SEPTA could withdraw that policy tomorrow, thanks to this court's ruling today." This was a surprising and interesting case to read about, and it will be interesting to see how things play out going forward.
This week I continued my work researching sites to include in the list of LGBTQ historic sites in Philadelphia, I finalized preparations for the PrideFest Memory Mapping booth this Sunday, the 18th, I met with Amanda Casper and Bill Bolger in the Northeast Regional Office to discuss how my work on assessing LGBT historic sites intersects with theirs, and received some valuable feedback, I attended an orientation for PrideFest at the William Way Community Center, familiarized myself with Susan Ferentinos’s work prior to our meeting with the PA LGBT History Network today, Friday the 16th, and met with Susan Ferentinos for lunch after that meeting this afternoon.
This week most of my time was dedicated towards preparing for PrideFest and the Memory Mapping booth I will be hosting there. I also spent considerable time preparing for my meeting with Susan Ferentinos this afternoon. That said, I did also work towards substantiating another site on the list. This week’s site was Maxine’s, now Tavern on Camac, which stood at 243 S. Camac Street. Maxine’s can be considered the earliest gay bar in Philadelphia with origins as a speakeasy in the 1920s and emerging as Maxine’s in 1936 until it closed in 1979. After Maxine’s closed, Ed Klarin and Louis Rodrigues bought the property, renaming it as Raffles, another gay bar which operated for 20 years. Joey Guidotti bought the property in 1999 opening yet another gay bar, this one Tavern on Camac which still operates today. This site clearly has a very colorful history, and I think it is worth examining more closely as a potential site for nomination.
In preparation for PrideFest this Sunday I did several things this week. I finalized details on the contact sheets, replacing the “address” column for “neighborhood/city” information instead. This could provide preliminary demographic information on which neighborhoods have the greatest representation at Pride. I also picked up some thin, rectangular sticky notes that won’t take up much space on the map, and on which participants can write the names of the places they connected with. On Tuesday evening, the William Way Community Center held an orientation session for those volunteering at PrideFest. I met a number of people who will be at the booth with me Sunday, and briefly explained what I will be doing. They seemed enthusiastic about it, and I hope to have them participate as well.
Tuesday morning, I met with Amanda Casper and Bill Bolger at the Northeast Regional Office. This was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about applying NPS criteria to potential sites for nomination, and about their backgrounds on this project as well. I gave them examples of sites I think have the strongest cases for nominations as NHLs, and they provided some great feedback. They also helped me start thinking of other community outreach possibilities, in addition to the PrideFest booth.
Because I knew Susan Ferentinos would be at the PA LGBT History Network meeting this morning, I took time on Tuesday and Wednesday to familiarize myself with her work. First, by reading her chapter from the Theme Study on interpreting LGBT historic sites, and then by reading her book Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites. She published the book first, in 2014, and it was interesting to see how she took themes and methods from a book geared more towards museums and similar sites, and refocused them towards a National Park Service interpretive plan. A common theme between the two was her assertion that in interpreting apparent LGBT histories further back than 1880 we must take into account differences in understandings of sexuality between then and now. Much of the LGBT history I encounter in Philadelphia’s historic sites comes later than 1880 (an approximate date of origin for the scientific approach to understanding alternative sexuality and gender expression), so this does not implicitly affect my methodology, but it is still worth reflecting on my understandings of sexuality and gender identity, and consider what it meant to my subjects in their own time.
This morning I met with the PA LGBT History Network after hearing from Mike Doveton about the meeting a week or so ago. There were folks present from National History Day, the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Youth Congress, and the John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives at the William Way Community Center. The folks from the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania spoke about their goals for a traveling exhibit that showcases the lack of legal protections afforded in all but thirty-seven municipalities in Pennsylvania by telling the stories of those cities and municipalities which succeeded, and even those that failed. For such a project, they want to partner with the other organizations in Pennsylvania doing similar LGBT work, including William Way, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and others. As someone from an area that does not afford such protections I was inspired by this proposal and I look forward to following up on it, and even contributing to it, down the road.
After the formal meeting, Susan Ferentinos and I went to lunch and discussed our projects, how they intersect, methodologies, and we also talked about some of the sites we have researched. This was an amazing opportunity and
I look forward to keeping in touch with her as we both continue our assessments of LGBT historic sites.
This week I continued adding on to my Philadelphia LGBTQ+ Historic Site spreadsheet, and I successfully proposed a community outreach project to the William Way Community Center for PrideFest next weekend. On Wednesday I met with my direct supervisor, Bonnie Halda, and Shaun Eyring in the morning to discuss my summer work plan, and in the afternoon we met with Mike Doveton and Pat Jones at the Independence National Historical Park office to discuss next steps for the NPS/William Way exhibit project. Since Wednesday, I have worked to collect and develop the materials I need for my PrideFest outreach booth, kept up-to-date on current events, and had a phone conference with Chris Beagan, who among other things, works on the NPS LGBTQ Heritage Initiative in the Northeast Regional Office in Boston.
On Monday, I reached out to Mike Doveton at Independence National Historical Park to determine what plans were in motion at Independence for a PrideFest booth for Pride Weekend, as they have had booths there previously. He explained that Independence would not have a booth there this year, so at Dr. Lowe's suggestion I reached out to the William Way Community Center to propose my community outreach booth. This booth involves a large (roughly 2' by 4') map of Philadelphia, and I will ask participants where they first felt at home in the Philadelphia LGBTQ Community, and when that was. Participants will then be provided pushpins to mark their responses on the map. When I proposed this to William Way, they thought this would be a great idea for their outreach booth. I established that I will be working at the William Way Community Center's outreach booth from noon to 4PM at PrideFest (6/18). This is a fantastic opportunity to both engage with the Community at large, and also to conduct some spatial data collection.
On Wednesday morning, I went in to the NPS Northeast Regional Office to meet with my local supervisor, Bonnie Halda, and Shaun Eyring, the Chief of Cultural Resources. During this time, we established my work space there, and how often I will be coming in to the office (one to two days a week). We also worked over my summer work plan. In the early afternoon, Bonnie, Shaun, and I made our way over to Independence for a meeting with Pat Jones, Head of Interpretation at Independence, and Mike Doveton who are working closely with William Way on their exhibit. This was an interesting and productive meeting as we considered what the next steps for the William Way exhibit are, and what my role in that process will be. This project is still very much in development, but I really look forward to beginning work on that project as well.
Aside from meetings and project proposals, I continued adding on to the spreadsheet of LGBTQ historic sites in Philadelphia. This week's list of sites included the Homophile Action League offices, the Janus Society offices, the Marc Blitzstein House, and BEBASHI. The Homophile Action League (HAL) and the Janus Society were two of the most prominent local homophile organizations of the 1960s, with the Janus Society being far more sexually progressive and left-wing than HAL, and certainly more so than the Daughters of Bilitis or the Mattachine Society, both of which were national organizations. The HAL was founded in 1968 after a raid on Rusty's lesbian bar convinced members of the Daughters of Bilitis and Mattachine Society chapters in Philadelphia to disband and reorganize as the Homophile Action League, an early, Philadelphia-based heterosocial gay rights organization. In the early 1970s, the HAL was among the local gay rights organizations in Philadelphia to advocate for policy reform to protect gay men and lesbians from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
The Janus Society was founded earlier, in 1962, and published the most widely distributed homophile magazine of the 1960s, Drum. What differentiates the Janus Society from most homophile organizations in the 1960s was their deviation from militant respectability. Upon his election as president in 1963, Clark Polak rejected the organization's former politics of sexual respectability and embraced sexual liberation instead. This ultimately made the Janus Society much more controversial than other homophile organizations, and earned much criticism from them as well.
BEBASHI (Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health Issues) was the first Black organization to recognize the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Founded in 1985 by Rashidah Abdul-Khabeer (then Hassan), a Black Muslim nurse working in Germantown who witnessed the treatment other healthcare providers afforded poor Black men with HIV/AIDS, and recognized that this demographic was likely to be more heavily affected by the epidemic. Abdul-Khabeer quickly got involved with Philadelphia Community Health Alternatives (becoming vice president of their board) and the Philadelphia AIDS Task Force, but ultimately split off from both, believing neither was properly meeting the Black community's needs. BEBASHI was the second HIV/AIDS service organization in Philadelphia, and the first Black organization of its kind in the country. BEBASHI continues its work today, maintaining its HIV/AIDS focus but also serving as a multi-purpose health and social services agency.
Earlier this week Dr. Lowe sent me a link regarding the upcoming dedication of a state historical marker at the house where Marc Blitzstein was born. After learning about this, I looked more closely into his history and put this address on the spreadsheet as well. Marc Blitzstein was born in 1905 and was a musical prodigy at a young age. He studied composition at Curtis, and made his professional concert debut at 21 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Although Blitzstein was openly gay, in 1933 he married Eva Goldbeck, a woman he had met while touring in Europe years prior, and in whom he found a mind which matched his own. The two lived together in New York's West Village until Goldbeck's death in 1936. In 1937, Blitzstein produced his most famous work, The Cradle Will Rock, a left-wing political opera which received critical acclaim. During World War II Blitzstein served in the United States Army's Eighth Air Force, and was able to continue composing while stationed in the United Kingdom. In 1963, Blitzstein went on vacation to Martinique for the winter, but he died there from an apparent gay bashing/robbery gone wrong on January 22, 1964.
In terms of current events in Philadelphia's LGBT Community, the most exciting news comes from the Pride Month Kick-Off, held yesterday at City Hall by the Office of LGBT Affairs. At this event, the Office unveiled a new Pride flag which now boasts a black and a brown stripe atop the traditional rainbow flag. This is quite the sign of solidarity with the LGBT People of Color in Philadelphia whose voices are only just starting to be heard. I'll be curious to see what else happens as Pride Month continues.
This morning I had a phone conference with Bonnie, Shaun, and Chris Beagan, a historical landscape architect with the NPS Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation in Boston, and someone involved with the NPS LGBTQ Employee Resource Group. Chris told us about the work an intern of his is doing, creating a tool kit to encourage and help NPS sites incorporate LGBT themes into their interpretation where they currently might not. This is fascinating to me, having read much of the NPS Theme Study which encourages this kind of reinterpretation at extant NPS sites. In turn, I explained the work I'm doing here in Philadelphia with the documentation of LGBT sites, community outreach, and exhibits in partnership with local institutions. During one part of our conversation Chris offered to connect me with Megan Springate, now an NPS employee in D.C. and one of the largest contributors to the Theme Study. I enthusiastically thanked him and indicated that I would greatly appreciate that. I look forward to keeping in touch with Chris throughout this summer, and taking advantage of his offer to engage with the Park Service's LGBTQ Resource Group. In July, I will have the opportunity to report to them on the work being done here in Philadelphia and hear from Park Service people from across the country about what they are doing as well.
 Marc Stein, City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004): p. 277. Kevin Mumford, “The Trouble With Gay Rights: Race and the Politics of Sexual Orientation in Philadelphia, 1969-1982,” The Journal of American History, vol. 98 no. 1 (June, 2011): p. 52.
 Marc Stein, City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004): p. 208-11, 231-45.
 Dan Royles, “’Don’t We Die Too?’: The Political Culture of African American AIDS Activism,” (PhD Diss., Temple University, 2014): p. 38, 65. BEBASHI, “Our Mission,” BEBASHI, http://www.bebashi.org/about. (Accessed: 6/9/2017).
 The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, “The Marc Blitzstein Web Site,” The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, http://www.marcblitzstein.com/. (Accessed: 6/9/2017).
Last week I built a spreadsheet based on an NPS model to help organize and construct cases for the countless LGBT historic sites in Philadelphia, among other things. This week, I focused primarily on filling in that spreadsheet, which meant focusing on specific spaces I've found between my own research, Bob Skiba's Philadelphia LGBT mapping project, Marc Stein's City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves, and a number of related scholarly articles. I worked on professional development, filling out the clearance documentation to work in the NPS office, and finalizing details for my internship contract between myself, Temple University, and the Park Service. I also indicated I will attend a PA LGBT History Network meeting at the Wililiam Way Community Center in a few weeks. Finally, I kept up-to-date on current events in Philadelphia's LGBT Community.
Regarding the spreadsheet, the headings for each column are as follows: Resource Name, Whether the space is a private residence, Location, Significance and Comments, Current Preservation Status, Relevant Theme Study Chapters, Applicable NPS Systematic Framework Themes, and Building/Property Type. Adequately filling in a site's significance with sufficient comments has been the most time-consuming aspect of this work. Doing so requires accessing resources to develop a site's larger narrative, and subsequently condensing that into something that succinctly makes a case for that site's importance. This also includes determining a period of significance for the respective site. There are currently sixty-six sites listed, though as time goes on that number will diminish.
Of the sixty-six sites listed on the spreadsheet currently, twenty-four have their significance/comments sections filled. I contributed fifteen of those, the other nine came from Susan Ferentinos' (a colleague at the Park Service) spreadsheet, as her work needs to be included. As I continue this work I expect there will be some sites without enough information behind them to be nominated, and as those arise I will remove them from the list. Another next step for this project will be traveling to these addresses and assessing their integrity. In other words, are the original buildings still there? For a number of sites already on my list the answer is no, but some of those have strong enough narratives that I believe they could be nominated for a state marker or something else at a later date. For example, Little Pete's, which was once Dewey's (which I discussed at length last week), is slated for demolition in the coming months, but I am confident that a well constructed nomination form would earn the site a state commemorative marker. A few of the sites I have focused on for the spreadsheet this week include: The Attic (a popular Black gay bar in the 1960s and 1970s), Rusty's Bar (a popular lesbian bar), the William Way Community Center (the first major LGBT community center in Philadelphia which has a 40+ year history), Rittenhouse Square Park (part of the Rittenhouse Historic District and a popular social space for LGBT Philadelphians since before World War II), The Gilded Cage and The Humoresque (popular gay coffee shops), Germantown/Mt. Airy, and Harry Langhorne and Bessie Smith's homes.
Regarding the meeting at the William Way Community Center on the 16th, I received an email from Mike Doveton at Independence National Historical Park earlier this week. He reached out to let me know about this as an opportunity to make some substantial connections with people engaged in similar work to mine throughout Pennsylvania. The agenda for the PA LGBT History Network meeting lists presentations/discussions from Susan Ferentinos on the NPS LGBT National Historic Landmark identification project, and Bob Skiba on a potential Philadelphia LGBT historic mapping project. I am curious what Skiba's potential mapping project might entail and how, or if, it connects to his extant mapping project. Meeting and connecting with Susan Ferentinos is a fabulous opportunity, as I have already seen some of the work she has contributed to the Park Service's national LGBT NHL project.
In terms of current events in Philadelphia's LGBT Community, I received an interesting article from the Inquirer on how frequent customers at Little Pete's (which was Dewey's in the 1960s) remember the restaurant now that it has closed at it's 17th Street location. The article was full of fond memories with families and the employees that go back decades. For me, this emphasized what a social staple Little Pete's was for people who lived in that area. I was thankful that the Inquirer took the time to document those personal histories.
As I suspected last Friday, Philadelphia Gay News did cover the Town Hall that took place last Thursday at the William Way Community Center. In an article on Monday, PGN addressed the transparency Amber Hikes and the Office of LGBT Affairs strove for in the meeting, discussing Sharron Cooks' dismissal, how difficult that was for Hikes and the Office, and how the Office is adamant about moving forward with Community Conversations like last week's to better connect with and serve the Community. The article also emphasized the meeting's positive and empowering tone, the future collaborations and projects the Office is taking on to support the Community, and upcoming events that Hikes disclosed at the meeting. One such event is a Pride Month Kick-Off next Friday, June 9th, at 3:30PM at City Hall that I intend to attend.