Archives and Special Collections
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Boston, MA 02115
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Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids

Printable Finding Aid. Back to Browsing Version.

Collection Overview
Title:William J. Canfield papers
Dates:1965-1999 (bulk 1970-1990, 1998-1999)
Location: 65/4
Call Number:M69
Volume:3.50 cubic ft. (8 boxes)
Scope and Content Abstract:This collection was assembled by William J. Canfield II.  It documents homophile groups (the Homophile Union of Boston (HUB), Student Homophile League (SHL)), services, and publications (Esplanade, Fag Rag, Gay Community News) in Boston in the late 1960s through the mid-1980s.  In addition, the collection includes planning documentation for the Gay Liberation Reunion (GLR) of 1990 and the Boston Gay Reunion (BGR) of 1999. 
Historical Abstract: William J. Canfield II was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1946.  He was a gay activist in Boston and was involved in the Boston gay liberation movement between 1970 and 1975. In 1971-1972, Canfield was president of Homophile Union of Boston (HUB). The Homophile Union of Boston was founded in 1969 by Frank Morgan in order to broaden awareness of gay lifestyles and seek civil rights for gays and lesbians.  Along with John C. Graves (MIT professor, psychologist, and psychotherapist at the Homophile Community Health Services (HCHS), an organization that served Boston's gay population, providing psychological counseling, medical services, draft counseling, and referrals for homeless teens.), Canfield was a primary force behind the second attempt at collecting materials for a Boston Gay and Lesbian Archives.
Arrangement:Organized into 5 series: 1. Boston and Vicinity Gay Movement; 2. National Gay Organizations; 3. Gay Publications; 4. Boston Gay Reunions; and 5. Boston Gay Archives Microfilmed Selections.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Canfield, William J., 1946-
  • Braun, Rich
  • Graves, John C.
  • Johnson, Lois
  • McCassie, James
  • Mitzell, John
  • Thiersch, Craig
  • Tillotson, Stanley

  • Homophile Union of Boston
  • Student Homophile League (Cambridge, Mass.)

  • Gay activists -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Gay liberation movement -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Gay men -- Identity
  • Gay newspapers -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Gay rights -- Massachusetts -- Boston

Restrictions:The collection is unrestricted.
Processor:Finding aid prepared by Michael Blech, January 2002

Scope and Content Note

This collection was assembled by William J. Canfield II.  It documents homophile groups (the Homophile Union of Boston (HUB), Student Homophile League (SHL)), services, and publications (Esplanade, Fag Rag, Gay Community News) in Boston in the late 1960s through the mid-1980s.  In addition, the collection includes planning documentation for the Gay Liberation Reunion (GLR) of 1990 and the Boston Gay Reunion (BGR) of 1999.  There is information about the Homophile Union of Boston, Student Homophile League, and gay issues and organizations from the Boston area, as well as gay organizations from around the country.  Included in this collection is a small amount of information about the Daughters of Bilitis.  A large portion of the collection is material that Canfield created and collected about the planning of the Gay Liberation Reunion and the Boston Gay Reunion.  There are also five rolls of microfilm which document selections from the second Boston Gay Archives, including selected portions of the Canfield collection and the related John C. Graves collection, as well as articles on gay topics, and Homophile Union of Boston and Student Homophile League materials.  Other contributors to the microfilm are John Mitzell, Craig Thiersch, and Stan Tillotson.

Historical Note

William J. Canfield II was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1946.  He was a gay activist in Boston and was involved in the Boston gay liberation movement between 1970 and 1975. In 1971-1972, Canfield was president of Homophile Union of Boston (HUB). The Homophile Union of Boston was founded in 1969 by Frank Morgan in order to broaden awareness of gay lifestyles and seek civil rights for gays and lesbians.  After Canfield's presidency, the Homophile Union of Boston continued to operate under three more presidents until it disbanded in 1975.  Canfield was also co-founder and business manager of the Gay Community News (GCN), 1973-1974.  In June 1973, the first issue of Gay Community News appeared on selected newsstands, providing Boston with its first newspaper written and operated by a collective of gay men and lesbians.  In 1989, Canfield and several Boston acquaintances decided to organize a reunion for gay activists who were involved in the Boston gay liberation movement in the early 1970s.  The 1990 Gay Liberation Reunion was followed by a second reunion, the Boston Gay Reunion, in 1999. 

Activists involved in establishing homophile organizations in Boston in the late 1960s and the 1970s privately maintained documentation created during their years of operation.  Together a small group of activists decided that Boston needed a gay community archives to preserve this documentation permanently.  Later, materials were collected from individuals working in Boston's early gay liberation movement with the agreement that they would be transferred to an appropriate archives when it was established.  The first attempt at collecting organizational records, flyers, and printed materials for a Boston Gay and Lesbian Archives failed when the records were inadvertently destroyed in the 1980s.

 Along with John C. Graves (MIT professor, psychologist, and psychotherapist at the Homophile Community Health Services (HCHS), an organization that served Boston's gay population, providing psychological counseling, medical services, draft counseling, and referrals for homeless teens.), Canfield was a primary force behind the second attempt at collecting materials for a Boston Gay and Lesbian Archives.  In 1990, materials brought together by Canfield, Graves, and others were microfilmed as one collection. A formal Boston Gay and Lesbian Archives was never formed.  The collection was later separated, and John Graves donated his portion to The History Project (THP), a volunteer organization that seeks to document Boston's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender history, and The History Project donated it to the Northeastern University Archives.

 Other contributors to the selected materials microfilmed in the Gay and Lesbian Archives:

Rich Braun was involved in Gays at MIT (GAMIT), previously the Student Homophile League (SHL); changed to Gays at MIT in 1976.

Lois Johnson was involved in Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), an organization that aimed to broaden awareness of gay lifestyles and seek civil rights for lesbians.  Its Boston chapter was founded in 1969.

Jim McCassie was involved in Homophile Union of Boston, founded 1969.

Student Homophile League co-founded by Stan Tillotson, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was founded in 1969 and adopted its constitution in 1970.

John Mitzell and Craig Thiersch were a part of Boston's first Gay Community Center, opened in Cambridge in 1971.

Bibliography

"Multicultural Timeline."  The History Project.  June 22, 2000. http://www.historyproject.org/timeline/index.php  (October 5, 2001)
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Series:

1. Boston and Vicinity Gay Movement, ca. 1967-1999 (bulk 1970-1975)
Volume:1.00 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical
Summary:

This series contains flyers, programs, newsletters, and administrative files from and about gay issues and organizations in the Boston area. The information provides some history on the growth of the gay movement in Boston.  There are several files concerning Homophile Union of Boston and Student Homophile League.  Although most of the material is about gay men, this series also contains a few files about feminism/lesbianism and the Daughters of Bilitis.  Daughters of Bilitis was founded in San Francisco in 1955 and formed in Boston in 1969.  In addition, there are two folders with materials from MIT courses on homosexuality.  Also in this series are flyers, correspondence, and schedules regarding the Boston Pride Parade collected from several years between 1970 and 1978.  The History Project folder contains a timeline of gay activities in New England, 1950s-1979.
BoxTitleDate
11972 Democratic Convention1972
1Bibliographiesca. 1970-1974
1Boston Gay Male Liberation Statement to Massachusetts Psychological Association1972 Apr
1Boston Gay Men's Chorus1989-1990
1Boston Lesbian and Gay Community Center (The Center)1989-1992
1Boston University Homophile Club Flyers1970
1Communiversity Catalogue1971
1Council on Religion and the Homosexual Conference File1970 Nov
1Daughters of Bilitis, Focus n.d.
1Entre Nous and the Vikings Motorcycle Club1976
1Feminism/Lesbianismca. 1967-1974
1Gays at MIT: History and Flyersca. 1970
 Gay Community Center: n.d.
1 Administrative File197?-1973
1 Questionnaire1973
1Gay Community News: "The Gay Cruise-Aider Guide to Boston and Cambridge1974
1Gay Community News: Miscellaneous1973-1974
1Gay Growth Centerca. 1971
1Gay Jubilee: A Guidebook to Gay Boston1980
1Gay Legislation '75 and '761975-1976
1Gay Liberation Front Flyer1970
1Gay Liberation: Red Butterfly1970
1A Gay Manifesto: Carl Wittman1970
1Gay Men's Center1975
1Gay Recreational Activities Committee Brochure and Newsletter1975-1976
1Gay Rights Alliance Massachusetts Legislature Flyerca. 1975
1Gay Study Group Administrative File1970-1971
1Good Gay Poets Broadsideca. 1970
1The Griffin: News of Gay Liberation1970-1971
1Harry Reems Legal Defense Fund Brochure1976
1Hetopathic Terms Explainedca. 1972
1The History Project1969-1999
1Homophile Community Health Service Brochure and Events1971-1972
1Homophile Organizations of the United Statesca. 1971
1Homophile Union of Boston (6 folders)1970-1973
1The Homosexual in Society Courseworkca. 1970
1Homosexuals Intransigent!1971
1Homosexuality: Generalca. 1967-1975
1Homosexuality and Mental Healthca. 1969-1972
1Homosexuality and Militancyca. 1970-1974
1Homosexuality and the Militaryca. 1970-1974
1Legislationca. 1975-1976 (1972-1983)
1Letter from [Dee White] to Craig Thiersch1973
1Library Services and Gays American Library Associationca. 1971
1Lost in America: Odyssey of a Radical Lesbian postcard1971
1MIT Course on Homosexuality: Stan Tillotson1972
1MIT Student Homophile League Administrative File1970-1974
1North American Man/Boy Love Association Statement1981
1New England Gay Conference (3 folders)1973-1976
1One Institute Quarterly n.d.
1Pride (7 folders)1970-1981
1Pure Thought1971
1Questionnaireca. 1970s
1Religion1974-1975
1"Sexual Minorities and Employment," Richard C. Pillard1972
1"Sports and the Macho Male," John Mitzell1973
1Student Homophile League (4 folders)1970-1975
1Venereal Disease Brochuresca. 1971
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Series:

2. National Gay Organizations, 1967-1974 (bulk 1970-1973)
Volume:0.35 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical by state.
Summary:

This series comprises flyers, pamphlets, newsletters, and articles relating to gay organizations in the United States and Canada. Included is documentation of events, advertisements, and writings, ca. 1970-1973.  Of special interest are newsletters from the Mattachine Society in the New York files.
BoxTitleDate
2California (3 folders)1966-1973 
2Canadaca. 1970
2Colorado1974
2Connecticutca. 1971
2Illinois (2 folders)1970-1973
2Michigan and Minnesotaca. 1972-1973
2New Jersey1971-1973
2New York (5 folders)1970-1974
2Ohio1971-1972
2Washington, D.C.ca. 1971
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Series:

3. Gay Publications, 1970-1987
Volume:1.00 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Chronological
Summary:

This series comprises scattered issues of seven Boston area publications that focused on gay men and lifestyles.  It contains issues of several Boston publications: Old Mole: a Radical Bi-Weekly, Lavender Vision, Hysteria, Fag Rag, Boston Gay Review and Esplanade, as well as 13 rolls of microfilm of the Gay Community News from 1973 to1987.
BoxTitleDate
Old Mole: A Radical Bi-Weekly 
3Number 421970 Jun 26-Jul 9
3Week of November 20, 19701970 Nov
3Hysteria1970 Nov 6
Lavender Vision: 
3Vol.1 No.1n.d.
3Vol.1 No.21971 May
Esplanade 
3September 11, 19761976 Sep
3October 6, 19761976 Oct
3October 13, 19761976 Oct
3October 27, 1976, Issue 81976 Oct
3November 12, 19761976 Nov
3December 24, 19761976 Dec
3January 28, 19771977 Jan
3February 11, 19771977 Feb
3March 25, 1977, Vol.1, Issue 191977 Mar
3October 19, 19781978 Oct
4Fag Rag: June 1971, No.1 - 1987, No.44, with gaps1971-1987
Gay Community News on Microfilm1973-1987
51973-1980 
61980-1986 
71986-1987 
4Boston Gay Review: No.1, Fall 1976 - No.9, Winter 19811976-1981
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Series:

4. Boston Gay Reunions, 1989-1999 (bulk 1989-1990, 1998-1999)
Volume:1.00 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Arranged in two sub series: A) Gay Liberation Reunion (GLR) 1990 and B) Boston Gay Reunion (BGR) 1999
Summary:

This series is comprised of planning notes, financial information, correspondence, and a small number of photographs, relating to the planning of the two reunions.  The majority of information in both sub series is correspondence, much of which documents Canfield's efforts to locate "lost folks".
BoxTitleDate
 A. Gay Liberation Reunion (GLR) 1990
8The Advocate1990 Oct 23
8Artwork: Logo1990
 Correspondence 
8A-C1989-1990
8D-F1989-1990
8G-K1989-1990
8L-M1989-1990
8N-R1989-1990
8S-Z/Unidentified1989-1990
8Gay Archives1990-1995
8Miscellaneous1990
8Notes About Homophile Union of Boston and Student Homophile Leagueca. 1989-1990
8Obituaries1985-1996
8Photographs and Copy Negatives1970s-1990
8Planning Group Notes1989-1990
8Reunion Book1990
8Reunion Book: Originals1990
8Reunion Finance1990
8Speaker Information1989-1990
 B. Boston Gay Reunion (BGR) 1999
8Bill Canfield Interview1998?
8Addresses1997-1998
 Correspondence 
8A-D1997-1999
8Drummond1997-1999
8E-G1997-1999
8H-K1997-1999
8L-M1997-1999
8N-R1997-1999
8Russo1997-1999
8S-V1997-1999
8W-Z/Unidentified1997-1999
8Financial Information1998
8Leads1997-1998
8Notesca. 1998
8Old Listsca. 1998
8Parade 1998-1999
8Planning Group Notes and Details (2 folders)1997-1999
8Returned Reservation Forms1999
8Survey1998
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Series:

5. Boston Gay Archives Microfilmed Selections, ca. 1974-1990
Volume:0.15 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Numerical
Summary:

This series contains 5 original rolls of microfilm reproducing selections from the second attempt to organize a Boston Gay and Lesbian Archives.  Roll 1 contains information about the 1990 Gay Liberation Reunion planning much of which is duplicated in series 4.  Roll 2 has magazines and newspapers, Lois Johnson's Gay Pride correspondence, and Homophile Union of Boston and Student Homophile League materials, which include Canfield's proposal to become a Homophile Union of Boston presidential candidate.  This roll duplicates some of the material in series 1-3. Rolls 3 and 4 contain selected materials from the related John C. Graves collection, including material concerning the Gay Academic Union (GAU), gays and church, gay rights legislation, Homophile Community Health Services, and Gay Community News.  Roll 5, labeled Stan Tillotson, contains articles, newspapers, and handwritten materials about gay history, gays and politics, religion and MIT.
BoxTitleDate
7Rolls 1-51974-1990
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