Intrigued by the last name, I opened one of the boxes. What I sawwas title after title of lesbian and feminist periodicals. Some, Irecognized, but others, I had never heard of— Lesbian Tide, LeapingLesbian, Feminist Bookstore News, Amazon, Lesbian Connection,Lesbian Insider Insighter Inciter, and so on. I took another box downand found more of the same. Suddenly I realized what we had here—a whole grouping of scarce—and possibly some rare—periodicalsthat had been gathered together but not organized for research use.At that moment I had what we archivists and manuscripts librarianssometimes call that “tingly feeling” when we realize we foundsomething special in our collections.
Gage: Do you think that an archivist who was not lesbian wouldhave felt as “tingly?” The reason why I ask is that, as a lesbianplaywright who often works with historical figures, I frequentlyuncover details overlooked or trivialized by heterosexualcultural workers for whom these details have no context or relevance.
Long: Yes, I agree. It’s true that as a lesbian archivist I had contextfor this collection of periodicals. I also had a feeling of urgency to getthese materials available to scholars, and to specifically use the word“lesbian” in the title so that a search of that word in the online catalogwould bring up the description of the collection. The “lesbian”collections that I had discovered in our stacks were in a sensecloseted themselves, and I felt I was on a mission to out them and getthese valuable records available to scholars. I wanted to make themas accessible as possible.
Gage: What was your next step on the treasure hunt?
Long: I found Ruth listed in our donor files, and I called her up. It wasduring our conversations I discovered that Southern Oregon is hometo many lesbian intentional communities, or “communes.” Some of these are collectives, and some are privately owned. Ruth and her former partner, Jean, had published a journal entitled WomanSpiritMagazine while they lived in a gay commune in Southern Oregon andlater while living in their own lesbian land nearby. The periodicals Isaw boxed up in the stacks were exchange copies from other publishers.