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Collection of Susan Guggenheim


Feminist ephemera

“This is part of my collection of early feminist writings, from the beginnings of the Women’s Liberation Movement. I bought these works when I joined the Movement in 1972, when I was in college. One was supposed to read a list of stuff in preparation for joining a Consciousness Raising group. So I did. In the beginning of the Movement, we talked about collecting this material for a post-revolutionary archives. In fact, several archives were born from this idea – there are archives that I know of at Duke University, and also in Chicago, Montana and London. I collected these items with the thought that one day I could contribute them to an archive devoted to the history of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Feminist ephemera

“I don’t collect anything else – only a few pieces here and there. Some art, some books, some writings, some films.”

-Susan Guggenheim 

1995 EmmettReceiptDetail EmmettDetail

Emmett Ramstad
1995, 2013
Cash register receipt rolls from Giovanni’s Room bookstore, Philadelphia
Collection of The John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives,
William Way LGBT Community Center, Philadelphia

“My Aunt Mary told me about Giovanni’s Room bookstore when I said I was moving to Philly. She used to buy lesbian crime novels by mail order from them before Amazon Bookstore (not the online store, but the real lesbian bookstore in Minneapolis, named after strong, one breasted women). When I arrived in Philly, I visited Giovanni’s Room and Skip, a long-time employee, remembered Aunt Mary’s name from the mail order days – days of newsletters with book prices, a phone number you could call and books slipped into brown envelopes for shipping. This is the story I think of when I look at the many boxes of ephemera that Giovanni’s Room donated to The John J. Wilcox Jr. archive. When I asked Ed, Giovanni’s Room owner, about exhibiting the cash register receipt rolls, he was worried they would reveal the identity of the patrons- exposing secret purchases in the form of abbreviated titles of porn mags and disappointing gay films that are either too sweet or too brutal. He consented to the exhibition when I assured him there are no names on the receipts, just numbers, abridged titles, and events listings. These documents remind me of clusters of bodies and people with nerdish impulses, like a beautiful pre-internet community finding themselves; they represent a collection of book and magazine buyers and people who bought rainbow stickers for their cars. They also remind me of the hours I spent in the bookstore pouring over a filthy Sam Steward book I wanted but was gone by the time payday came around, and of cramming into a the attic like upstairs for queer readings. And while I was writing this, Ed announced retirement and Giovanni’s Room might have to close its doors. Is the era of gay bookstores now over? Who will take down Aunt Mary’s name and address when she buys her lesbian crime novels?”

Emmett Ramstad

Italian language guides
Collection of Rachel D’Agostino

Bakery business cards
Collection of Erika Piola

Rachel D’Agostino and Erika Piola are curators at the Library Company of Philadelphia. They organized that institution’s exhibition Remnants of Everyday Life: Historical Ephemera in the Workplace, Street, and Home. Both have lent from their personal collections for our exhibition.

“As an Italian-American from a family that arrived in this country both during the height of Italian immigration and also many decades earlier, I have always had an interest in Italian-American history and culture, including that of Italian-Americans now many generations removed from their Italian relations. I am drawn to Italian-language instruction because it is a way that many Italian-Americans, no longer learning the language at home, try to reconnect with their roots while also distinguishing themselves from ‘Medigans.’”

Rachel D’Agostino

“I never intended to start a collection of bakery business cards. It is somewhat of an unintentional collection; is small; and does not represent every bakery I have visited. The cards “live” on my fridge under magnets as a reminder of bakeries I have been to, need to visit again, and in some instances, just to remember the address for those future visits.”

Erika Piola