Reading Gay Sports Magazine in Honor of Pride Month

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist and Curator, Joyce Sports Research Collection

“Welcome to Gay Sports. As we all know—sports are an integral part of American society. This love of competition is as exciting to the Gay Community as it is to the Straight Community. In the months to come, this publication will bring you information about Gay men and women athletes competing in sporting events locally and nationally. Gay Sports is your publication. Keep us informed of what you are doing.”

Gay Sports Nov. 1982 (vol. 1, no. 1), page 4.

Publisher Mark Brown’s introductory note in the inaugural 1982 issue of the San Francisco-based Gay Sports announced the purpose of the new publication to readers. The monthly publication—one of the earliest serials devoted to sports in the gay community—would cover national sports news, but the focus of the magazine was on publicizing and building community among gay and lesbian athletes and their allies. In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) highlights the recent acquisition of two issues (vol 1, no. 1 – November 1982; and vol 2, no. 7 – September 1983) of this scarce publication.

The cover story in the first issue of Gay Sports—then called Bay Area Gay Sports—was a feature by Duke Joyce (Nov. 1982, p. 5) about former major league baseball player Glenn Burke, who had recently publicly acknowledged that he was gay. Burke played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s from 1976 to 1979, but he had struggled with his identity as a gay man while playing professional baseball. As the article explains, he “endured subtle, yet cruel innuendos” and discrimination from management. In the end, he wanted to be “truthful to himself” and not lead a “double life,” so he retired from baseball.

Joyce wrote that “being a homosexual in any homophobic environment is agonizing enough, but in the revered Major League, it is damn near sacreligious,” and he observed that there would likely be no room for “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Queers” any time soon. He applauded Burke’s courage in going public and hoped that he had “managed to further erode the stereotypical image of gays.” In closing, Glenn Burke, himself, observed: “It’s your life, and nobody else is going to live it for you. You’ve got to have self respect.”

Pictures from the 1983 Gay World Series in Chicago.
(Gay Sports September 1983, pp. 12-13)

Glenn Burke’s coming out was a prominent national news story, but most of the articles in Gay Sports focused on local and community-based sports leagues or competitions for gay athletes. The annual Gay World Series softball tournament routinely received lots of attention, as did the quadrennial Gay Games. (For more information about the Gay Games, please see also the Gay Games Collection, MSSP 10070, in RBSC or the recent digital exhibit “Papers Alight: Contextualizing Mike Curato’s Flamer“).

Images from the 1983 Bay Area Women’s Softball League.
(Gay Sports September 1983, pp. 6-7)

Most articles focused on local leagues and organizations that helped build communities and networks of support for gay and lesbian athletes in the Bay Area or in other cities around the country. These two issues are replete with articles about local softball leagues, tennis tournaments, swimming competitions, hiking outings, bicycling groups, billiards leagues, bowling tournaments, flag football teams, and many other types of sports and athletics.

Members of the San Francisco Different Spokes Cycling Club pose on the cover of the September 1983 issue of Gay Sports.

These sporting activities served a variety of roles and were an important part of many people’s lives. The organizer of an overseas bicycling trip described, for example, “the ease and comfort of traveling with an all gay group” (Sept. 1983, p. 8). The leader of a San Francisco cycling club noted the value in “informally representing a portion of the gay community to the bicycling world” (Sept. 1983, p. 10). But, for the most part, the various sports leagues were about safe spaces for friendship and community. The author of an article about bowling leagues simply wrote that competitors “come together not only to enjoy the sport, but also more importantly, to enjoy each other . . . . for therein lies the magic!” (Sept. 1983, p. 18).

These issues of Gay Sports are available to researchers. RBSC welcomes new donations of Gay Sports magazine to expand our holdings of this important title.

Researching the Negro Leagues and African American Baseball in RBSC

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist and Curator, Joyce Sports Research Collection

Major League Baseball (MLB) recently announced that it has updated its official record book to include Negro Leagues statistics from the years 1920–1948. MLB has belatedly recognized that the highest levels of African American baseball during the era of segregation constituted “major league” competition. 

The expanded inclusive record book now counts player statistics from the Negro Leagues on an equal basis with those from the National League and the American League. In these years, organized white baseball leagues notoriously excluded Black players from the playing field until Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 (read a recent RBSC blog post about Jackie Robinson). 

MLB’s rewritten record book now officially recognizes the statistical accomplishments of legendary African American baseball players like power-hitting catcher Josh Gibson, MLB’s new all-time leader in batting average and slugging percentage, and pitcher Satchel Paige, who now boasts MLB’s the third-lowest single-season earned run average.

In recognition of this announcement and in honor of the upcoming Juneteenth holiday, Rare Books & Special Collections highlights material from its collections that document the history of African American baseball. These resources will allow researchers to better contextualize and understand the statistics and the history of the Negro Leagues.

The Birmingham Black Barons Records (MSSP 0001) is a unique and important collection that documents the financial operation of the Black Barons, an influential Negro National League team. The collection includes a thick financial ledger book that lists the debits and credits—including salaries, fines, advances, expenses, etc.—for players from the 1926 through the 1930 seasons, a span which includes Leroy “Satchel” Paige’s rookie year. The Black Barons ledger book allows a rare opportunity for researchers to see the day-to-day finances of a major Negro League team. The complete ledge book has been fully digitized and is available to view through Marble.

The Birmingham Black Barons ledger book pages for Leroy “Satchel” Paige in 1928 show monthly salary credits of $80.00 and include debits on April 7th for shoes from Gray’s Sporting Goods ($7.50); unidentified debits on June 21st and June 30th to “Dr. Bradford” ($10.00 and $15.00); and fines on July 30th for “Not appearing in uniform in St. Louis” ($5.00) and “Staying out all night at Chicago” ($10.00).

The Negro Leagues Pennant Collection (MSSP 10079) contains nine vintage (c. 1930s-1940s) felt pennants advertising African American baseball teams. These rare original souvenirs document the fan experience and the iconography of the Negro Leagues.

MSSP 10079-02 and 10079-03: The Negro League Pennant Collection includes two variants of pennants for the Homestead Grays, Josh Gibson’s primary Negro Leagues team.

RBSC holds a scarce original copy of Sol White’s History of Colored Base Ball [Special Coll.Vault • GV 863 .A1 W45 1907], an incredibly important 1908 book by manager and former player Sol White. One of the first comprehensive histories of African Americans in baseball, White’s research documented the early experiences of Black baseball players before the establishment of the formal Negro Leagues. Since it original publication, this book has been an essential source for the historiography of African American baseball. The profusely illustrated 120-page volume has been digitized and is available to be viewed via Marble.

The champion 1902 Philadelphia Giants team picture is one more than 50 photographs printed and preserved in Sol White’s book.

A four-page 1926 advertising pamphlet for the Illinois Giants of Chicago [Rare Books Large • GV 875 .N35 I5 1926] documents the experiences of a lesser-known minor league African American baseball team.

The advertising pamphlet for the Illinois Giants of Chicago declared that “Our team attained almost unbeatable form at that period and bowled over the leading semi-pro teams of Michigan and Wisconsin in rapid succession.” As an indication of the complicated racial politics of the era, the flier emphasized that the Giants were “under WHITE MANAGEMENT” perhaps to make games against the team more palatable to white fans.

The Negro Baseball Yearbook [Rare Books Large • GV 875 .N34 N46], published annually in the mid-1940s, celebrated and recorded the yearly accomplishments of African American baseball players.

These and other sources are all open to the public and available to researchers who would like to learn more about and to better understand the Negro Leagues and the experiences of African American baseball players during the age of segregation.

Influencing Opinion by Mapping the Early American Civil War

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

Rare Books and Special Collection recently acquired a Civil War broadside (a.k.a., poster) that was published very early in the conflict, probably in August or September 1861. Produced and printed in Boston, the map provided a Northern perspective on the war as it had unfolded to that point and offered reassurance about the conflict’s ultimate outcome. First, the broadside’s creators remind viewers that despite the Confederacy’s initial victories—at Fort Sumter in April and the Battle of Bull Run in July—the Union had prevailed in a battle for continued control of Fort Monroe, near Norfolk, Virginia, in May. The stronghold was strategically significant for Union designs on the Confederate’s capital at Richmond. Secondly, the broadside’s authors convey confidence that the North’s superior population and larger economy would ultimately prevail. 

Distance Maps. Map of the Atlantic States, Showing 50 Mile Distances from Washington. Map of the Battleground [at Manassas] Showing 5 Mile Distances from Washington. Map of the Fortress Monroe, Showing 1 Mile Distances from the Fortress. L. Prang & Co.: Boston, 1861.

The broadside’s most prominent feature is its three distance maps. The largest is a railroad map of the United States that shows distances from Washington, D.C. One of two smaller maps indicates distance from Washington to an unnamed battle ground, which people at the time would have understood as the Battle of Bull Run, just 30 miles from the capital. The Confederates had recently routed Union forces there, an outcome that worried many Northerners who had, until that point, expected a quick and decisive end to the war. 

The third distance map shows a detail of Norfolk Harbor and Fort Monroe, the site of a recent Union victory. The fortress remained in Union control throughout the war. 

Finally, this broadside provides population figures for the nation’s cities and towns, and states, as well as the number of enslaved people in states and territories. This data reinforced what even a glance at the railroad map implied: the North’s more developed industrial and economic infrastructure along with its superior numbers pointed to an eventual Union victory.

A happy Memorial Day to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

2023 post: A Woman’s Reporting on the Bonus Army in Depression-Era Washington
2022 post: Representing Decoration Day in a 19th Century Political Magazine
2021 post: An Early Civil War Caricature of Jefferson Davis
2020 post: Narratives about the Corby Statues—at Gettysburg and on Campus
2019 post: Myths and Memorials
2018 post: “Decoration Day” poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
2017 post: “Memorial Day” poem by Joyce Kilmer
2016 post: Memorial Day: Stories of War by a Civil War Veteran

Rare Books and Special Collections is closed today (May 27th) for Memorial Day and will be closed on July 4th for Independence Day. Otherwise, RBSC will be open regular hours this summer — 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

Congratulations to the 2024 Graduates!

Best wishes to the 2024 graduates of the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College, from all of us in Rare Books and Special Collections.

We would particularly like to congratulate the following student who worked in Special Collections during their time on campus:

Anne Elise Crafton (ND ’24), Ph.D., Medieval Studies. Their dissertation is titled “You Sound Like a Wif: The Representation of Women’s Speech in Old English”.

Both images: MSE/EM 110-1B, Diploma, University of Padua, 1690

An Extremely Rare Work of St. Charles Borromeo

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an extremely rare work, St. Charles Borromeo’s Decreta Edita, et Promulgata n Synodo Diocesana, Mediolanensi Quarta (Mediolani, 1575).

Borromeo (1538-1584) is well known as one of the administrative leaders of the Catholic Reformation. Following his appointment as archbishop of the diocese of Milan (Italy) in 1564, he worked tirelessly to implement in his archdiocese the decrees of the Council of Trent, which had concluded the year before the beginning of his episcopal tenure. His reforms largely centered on the revitalization of education for both clergy and laity. He convened a series of synods beginning in 1568, and by the time of his death in 1584 it appears that 11 such meetings were held. 

Apparently, not all of the synods’ decrees were published, and we have identified printed collections for only the first and fourth; the present work represents the work of the latter gathering, held in Milan in November 1574.

We have identified no other copies held by any other institution worldwide.

Upcoming Events: May 2024 and through the summer

Currently there are no events scheduled to be hosted this summer in Rare Books and Special Collections.

The exhibition Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge runs through the summer and closes in late July. Learn more about the exhibit in this video, and plan your visit this summer.

The current spotlight exhibits are Scripts and Geographies of Byzantine Book Culture (February – May 2023) and The Book Beautiful: A Selection from the Arts & Crafts Movement (April – May 2024). Towards the end of May, we will install a double case spotlight exhibit highlighting Special Collections items relating to the early modern history of mathematics.

Rare Books and Special Collections is open
regular hours during the summer —
9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

RBSC will be closed Monday, May 27th, for Memorial Day and Thursday, July 4th, for Independence Day.

Spotlight Exhibit: The Book Beautiful

by Luke Kelly, Gladys Brooks Conservation Fellow, Hesburgh Libraries

The books in Special Collections’s April-May spotlight exhibit represent a small selection of materials from the University of Notre Dame’s collection that reveal the influence of William Morris on the Arts & Crafts movement. From the printing and binding of Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson to the illumination and calligraphy of Edward Johnston and Alberto Sangorski, Morris’s ideal of the “book beautiful” was taken up by dozens of other makers who sought in their own way to merge artistry and craftsmanship in the creation of beautiful books.

William Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in 1891 in response to the decorative excesses of the waning Victorian era and declining material and design standards in book publishing. He aimed to print books “which would have a definite claim to beauty, while at the same time they should be easy to read and should not dazzle the eye, or trouble the intellect of the reader by eccentricity of form in the letters.” 1 Perhaps for the first time in Europe since Gutenberg, Morris sought to design the whole book, selecting the paper, type, illustrations, typography, binding, and even the ink that were used in the production of books from the Kelmscott Press.

In making these decisions, Morris was informed by a set of exemplary medieval manuscripts and early printed works that he assembled as a personal reference library. On his historical influences in book design, Morris wrote “I have always been a great admirer of the calligraphy of the Middle Ages, & of the earlier printing which took its place. As to the fifteenth century books, I had noticed that they were always beautiful by force of the mere typography, even without the added ornament, with which many of them are so lavishly supplied.” 2 The University of Notre Dame is fortunate to have two medieval manuscripts (cod. Lat. c. 6 and cod. Lat. e. 4) owned by William Morris.

Cod. Lat. c. 6 is a 13th century copy of Peter Riga’s Aurora. Its undecorated, utilitarian limp parchment binding is charming even in its worn state and exemplifies the authenticity that Morris was attracted to in scribal book production. This book features particularly pronounced “yapped” fore-edge folds on the parchment cover, which were intended to protect the page edges from wear. Yapped edges are commonly found in this style of binding, and Morris would go on to incorporate them in his binding designs for books from the Kelmscott Press.

Except for the Kelmscott Press edition of Chaucer’s works, most books from the press were issued in two possible binding configurations: limp vellum with colored silk ties or a hardcover binding with off-white linen covering the spine and blue paper covering the boards. The Earthly Paradise was one of the last publications by the Kelmscott Press, and this particular copy retains its William Morris-designed limp vellum binding with green silk ties. It was bound for the Kelmscott Press by J. & J. Leighton. The yapped fore-edge folds of this binding are reminiscent of the yapped edges on the Riga Aurora manuscript, though they are more diminutive. The use of green silk (custom dyed at the request of Morris and used for the fore-edge ties on this binding) appears frequently in British Arts & Crafts movement books. A similarly colored green silk was used to sew the copy of Men & Women by the Doves Press in the exhibit and is visible in the gutter fold.

Men & Women opening showing colophon and green silk in gutter.

After taking up bookbinding in 1883 at the suggestion of Jane Morris, William Morris’ wife, Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson established a new aesthetic for gold tooling in bookbinding using repeating patterns of a custom-designed set of brass finishing tools and high quality leather. Cobden-Sanderson’s aesthetic was also disseminated through his teaching. His students, such as Douglas Cockerell and Katharine Adams, became leading binders in their own right. Like William Morris, Cobden-Sanderson was interested in the design of the whole book and believed that ideally each part of the book’s production–materials, typography, illustration, and binding–should function together harmoniously to communicate the ideas contained by the written word.

Though foremost a bookbinder, Cobden-Sanderson collaborated with Emery Walker—a renowned typographer who assisted Morris in the development of several Kelmscott typefaces—to establish the Dove Press in 1900 four years after the death of William Morris. Their Doves typeface was a more accurate, svelte interpretation of Nicolas Jenson’s roman types from the late 15th century than was Kelmscott’s squat Golden typeface used in The Earthly Paradise (and in Morris’s bookplate).

This Doves Press copy of Men & Women by Robert Browning was “flourished” in the margins by Edward Johnston. Johnston was a calligrapher who was inspired by Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and helped revitalize illumination and lettering in the Arts & Crafts movement. Ironically, Johnston is perhaps best known today for creating the sans serif typeface used by the London Underground transportation system than for his floral calligraphy.

Sometime between 1901 and 1905, Edward Johnston taught calligraphy at the Central School in London to Francis Sangorski, an virtuosic bookbinder and younger brother of Alberto Sangorski. Though Alberto was initially a bookkeeper from Francis’s bindery, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, Alberto learned the rudiments of calligraphy, quill pen cutting, and gold illumination from Francis. In 1905 at the age of 43 (coincidentally the same age Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson gave up lawyering for bookbinding) Alberto Sangorski established himself as a calligrapher.3

This illuminated manuscript of John Milton’s On the morning of Christ’s nativity: an Ode was created by Alberto Sangorski sometime between 1905 and 1910. Alborto Sangorski developed his own miniaturist painting style based on Medieval and Pre-Raphaelite artists, which can been seen in this manuscript and in the manuscript of Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s The Blessed Damozel also on display in the exhibit. Alberto’s work drifted from the historical modeling of other Arts & Crafts figures and embraced the Edwardian era’s exuberance in design and catered to the conspicuous consumption of the truly “Gilded Age.”

This Alberto Sangorski manuscript of Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s poem The Blessed Damozel was bound by his brother Francis’s bindery, Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Francis Sangorski began his bookbinding apprenticeship in 1901 under Douglas Cockerell, another leading figure in the Arts & Crafts movement who himself trained under Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson at the Doves Bindery. This binding is typical of Sangorski & Sutcliffe’s higher-end design bindings, featuring elaborate gold tooling and decorative leather onlays of thinly skived crimson goatskin. Sangorski & Sutcliffe’s most expensive and celebrated binding of an 1884 imprint of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám sank on the RMS Titanic on April 14, 1912. Francis Sangorski drowned six weeks later while swimming in the English Channel. Like the Milton manuscript, this codex was likely created early in Alberto Sangorski’s career sometime between 1905 and 1910.



1. Morris 1.

2. Ibid.

3. The Cinderella of the arts 41.



Morris, William. A note by William Morris on his aims in founding the Kelmscott Press. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1898.

Shepherd, Rob. The Cinderella of the arts: a short history of Sangorski & Sutcliffe. London & New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 2015.

“Girls Really Play Baseball”: The National Girls Baseball League Collection

by Greg Bond, Sports Archivist and Curator, Joyce Sports Research Collection

“Girls Really Play Baseball.” So reported the cover of the Official National Girls Baseball League Magazine in August 1950, beneath a picture of power-hitting infielder Freda Savona. The National Girls Baseball League (NGBL), a Chicago-based rival of the better-known All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), took the field from 1944 to 1954 and provided high-level athletic opportunities for women. The Joyce Sports Collection recently acquired a collection of printed material and ephemera documenting the NGBL. The opening week of the Major League Baseball season seems an appropriate time to revisit the National Girls Baseball League Collection (MSSP 10071).

The National Girls Baseball League has faded into obscurity since its heyday, while the AAGPBL has been popularized by the movie and the Amazon streaming show A League of Their Own. But, at the time, the two women’s leagues were fierce and sometimes bitter rivals, routinely competing for players and fans. Founded by Charles Bidwell, owner of the National Football League’s Chicago Cardinals, and Emery Parichy, a local businessman, the NGBL dominated the lucrative Chicago market and attracted some of the best women athletes in the country. The NGBL emphasized the athletic ability of league players, and as the August 1950 official league magazine explained:

When one thinks of girls baseball they also think of a “powder puff” setup in which the feminine athletes do everything with a sort of “weaker sex” idea—that the ladies wielding bats couldn’t knock your hat off. 

Nothing is farther from the truth, and, if you don’t happen to be a regular patron of National Girls Baseball League games, a trip to one of the parks will convince you that the ladies swing a bat, throw, and field pretty much like your favorite major league baseball player.

Spread from the June 1, 1950 issue of the official league magazine featuring scenes from around the NGBL.

The league was popular in Chicago and often drew thousands of fans to games in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These pages below from the July 1949 issue of the official league magazine show league founder Emery Parichy in the crowded stands and also document a game visit by Chicago mayor Martin Kennelly. The magazine also featured a bold black-and-white advertisement for players, reading: “Wanted Girls From Any Part of the Country to Play in the National Girls Baseball League.”

Parichy owned the Bloomer Girls, league champions in 1947 and 1948, and was a driving force of the league. The owner of a roofing and house remodeling business, Parichy had begun sponsoring women’s baseball and softball teams in the 1930s, and he built Parichy Memorial Stadium in Forest Park, which would eventually become the home of his NGBL Bloomer Girls. As seen in this advertisement from the outside back cover of the July 1953 official league magazine, Parichy used the Bloomer Girls to help promote his roofing business.

Although players frequently jumped back and forth between the two leagues (as documented in this previous blog post about RBSC’s AAGPBL collection), there were some important distinctions between the the two leagues. The National Girls Baseball League only fielded teams in the Chicagoland area, while the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League placed teams in cities and towns across the midwest. The AAGPBL adopted overhand pitching in 1948, while the NGBL only allowed underhand pitching throughout its existence. The NGBL allowed players to wear shorts while on the diamond—as seen in this collection of promotional glossy postcards sold by the league—while AAGPBL uniforms always included skirts.

The postcards feature four players from the Queens, league champions in 1950, 1951, and 1952: second baseman Freda Savona, one of the best players in the league, who was inducted into the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in 1998; catcher Dorothy Pitts; catcher Alice Kolski (the sister of Ed Kolski, ND ’32, the owner of the Queens); and shortstop Olympia Savona, Freda Savona’s sister.

The NGBL also sanctioned a marginally more diverse cast of players than its rival league. Although AAGPBL rosters included several Latina players over the years, the rest of the players in the league were white. The ranks of the National Girls Baseball League also featured Latina players like Helene Machado and Lillian Lopez. The AAGPBL famously never signed any African American players during its 12 years of existence, but in 1951 African American outfielder Betty Chapman played with the Music Maids of the NGBL. In addition, during the early years of the National Girls Baseball League, one of the best pitchers was Chinese American Gwen Wong. And, in 1953, Japanese American shortstop Nancy Ito starred for the Wilson-Jones Bloomer Girls and made the NGBL all-star team.

The National Girls Baseball League Collection contains printed material—including a nearly complete run of the Official NGBL Magazine from June 1949 through September 1953—ephemera such as postcards and team newsletters, and realia, including a signed official NGBL baseball. The Joyce Sports Collection hopes to better document the history of the NGBL League and seeks donations of material related to the National Girls Baseball League and its players. 

As the Major League Baseball season kicks off this year, let’s remember the boys and the girls of summer!

Upcoming Events: April 2024

Please join us for the following public events and exhibits being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, April 11 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Boccaccio, the Disguised Revolutionary” by Martin Eisner (Duke University).

In the spring exhibition, Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge, primary objects bring to the fore the tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages.

This exhibition is curated by David T. Gura, PhD, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.

The current spotlight exhibits are Scripts and Geographies of Byzantine Book Culture (February – April 2024) and A Medieval Nun’s Choir Book (February – early April 2024). The current bi-monthly spotlight will run through April 5, with a new exhibit featuring a selection of books from the Arts & Crafts movement being installed on April 8.

Special Collections will be closed on March 29, in observance of Good Friday, and will be open regular hours on Easter Monday (April 1).

Women’s History Month 2024

We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history by celebrating Women’s History Month.

Second-Wave Feminist Articles from an Underground Newspaper

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

So What Are We Complaining About? is a 48-page booklet of feminist articles collected and reprinted from the pages of an underground newspaper, the Old Mole, published in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The booklet’s publication was a joint venture of the Old Mole and Bread and Roses, a socialist women’s liberation collective, in 1970. The booklet was created by the women’s caucus, a group within Bread and Roses. The Old Mole, which appeared bi-weekly from 1968 to 1970, was the publication of the Harvard chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

It’s not surprising that Bread and Roses women wished to collect and recirculate this content. Among the collective’s founders were activists and a historians Meredith Tax and Linda Gordon. Both women contributed significantly to the feminist movement in the United States from the 1970s and wrote much of its history. Reprinting was one of the best and only ways to publicize content that had already appeared in print, often in small, locally-circulated and ephemeral papers like the Old Mole.

Tax and Gordon founded Bread and Roses in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1969 as a women’s liberation organization. They chose “Bread and Roses” because it both references an historic labor strike by women (Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912) and it captures what the collective wanted to attain for women—economic opportunity (“bread”) and quality of life (“roses”). Over the nearly two years the collective was active, it attracted hundreds of members, many of whom were clerical workers who faced poor wages and working conditions. A number of reprinted articles address these problems. The collective took action by forming a union, 9to5, for local clerical workers. Another legacy project became the women’s health resource, Our Bodies, Ourselves, which developed out of the collective’s 1970 initiative, “Women and Their Bodies: A Course.”

Other features included in this short volume are Bread and Roses’ declaration of women’s rights (March 1970); a satirical, “liberated,” comic strip; and a short history about the establishment of International Women’s Day.

So What Are We Complaining About? is a new acquisition in Rare Books and Special Collections and is part of a growing collection of second-wave, feminist periodicals and newspapers.