Tag Archives: scrapbook

Coming Out and Going Out Since 1940

Post contributed by Laurin Penland, Library Assistant for Technical Services

Update: Coming Out Day has been postponed due to rain and will be happening October 27th.

Photos, a card for a dance club, a clipping from a newspaper.
A page in the scrapbook dedicated to nightlife in New Orleans.

In celebration of Coming Out Day on October 11th, I would like to introduce our blog readers to a special scrapbook. Recently, the Rubenstein Library acquired and digitized the Joe H. Hernandez scrapbook. We do not know many biographical details about Hernandez. My esteemed colleague Allie Poffinberger cataloged the scrapbook and discovered that Hernandez “was born in 1924 and worked in the San Antonio General Depot between 1951-1954.” Other facts: he was an Army veteran; he attended night clubs and dance halls; he dressed in feminine and masculine clothing (I am using male pronouns here, though I do not know what this person’s preference might have been); he was probably a member of the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.

A photo of Vine Street in Hollywood.
Billy Berg’s flyer, 1948.

Hernandez’s scrapbook is both intimate and wide in its scope. It shows a life full of friendship, romance, glamour, and travel. Early on in the scrapbook there is a souvenir flyer from Billy Berg’s, a night club in Hollywood. The flyer is dated 1948 and signed by musician and showman Slim Gaillard. After a little sleuthing, I found out that the club was known for being racially integrated and for being the first club on the West Coast to host Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Billy Holiday also performed there.

Photos and a matchbook.
A page in the scrapbook that features The Colony Bar in Kansas City.

Another souvenir in the scrapbook is a matchbook from The Colony Bar, an openly gay bar that existed in Kansas City, Missouri in the 1960s. It was the kind of place that threw Tea Dances and flashed the lights on and off when they were about to get busted. Oh, how I wish I knew more!

The ticket stubs, matchbooks, flyers, and signed photographs are enough to create a national map of LGBTQ life in the U.S. from the late 1940s to the 1960s. I wish that I had the time to create this map and to describe the nightlife in detail. I also want to know more about Joe H. Hernandez and his friends and family. So, if anyone’s out there, reading this, and you would like to do further research on this scrapbook, please do and please share your findings!

Also, I want to take a moment to appreciate all of my colleagues who acquired, described, preserved, and digitized this scrapbook. Thanks to you all, this scrapbook is now available for anyone in the world (who has internet access and/or can visit the reading room) to research.

And, Happy Coming Out Day! To learn more about the Rubenstein Library’s LGBTQ materials, please stop by and say hello at our table at the Bryan Center.

Two dancers.
A flyer from Club Babalu in Los Angeles.
Postcards, photographs, matchbooks.
A page in the scrapbook dedicated to Los Angeles.

In the Lab: Scrapbooking for Victory, Part Two

In 1918, the week of November 11-18 was not only a celebration of the end of World War I, but was coincidentally also a week of massive fundraising by the United War Work Campaign to support troops and boost morale until their work was done.  The scrapbook of posters and pamphlets from the campaign was described previously in the post “Scrapbooking for Victory.”

The scrapbook has been undergoing treatment in the conservation lab for the last couple of months.  As a paper conservator, I’ve been collaborating with book conservator Meg Brown to treat the album’s myriad problems, from the damaged binding to the fragile items glued to the pages.  The scrapbook has been a challenge because of its large size and the awkward folding items it contains.  The conservation problems have required hands-on treatment, lots of brainstorming sessions, and ongoing dialogue with curators to understand how the scrapbook will be used.  It’s a popular item with librarians, professors and researchers, and it’s no surprise; it’s a wonderful book!

Before Treatment: Tears to a Poster in the United War Work Campaign Scrapbook

Meg cleaned, consolidated and relined the spine to make the text block stronger, and she used the spine lining to securely attach the text block to the cover.  I’ve been mending tears and flattening creases in the posters and leaflets, many of which have broken at the folds from handling and from insect attack.  A few of the damaged booklets will be lifted from the pages and housed in pockets for easier, safer access.  The largest poster in the book unfolds to 82 x 41 inches (208 x 104 cm), so I’ve had to commandeer extra table space.  It’s especially useful at times like this to have a table on wheels that adjusts in height!

Grace and a Very Large Poster

When the treatment is finished, a storage box will be made, and the scrapbook will be sent back upstairs to the Rubenstein Library for all to enjoy.

For more photos of the scrapbook, and its restorative sojourn in the Conservation Lab, visit the “United War Work Campaign Scrapbook” set on the Rubenstein Library’s Flickr photostream.

Post contributed by Grace White, Conservator for Special Collections, as part of our ongoing “In the Conservation Lab” series.