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Old Lesbians Organizing for Change Records, 1987-2010 (ongoing)
21 boxes (25.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 671

Abstract:
Lesbian activists. Extensive documentation of all OLOC gatherings to date (1987-2004), including photographs, and videotapes of panel discussions and keynote speeches. Administrative files, newsletters and other publications, and educational and public relations materials are also included, as is a history of the organization. [NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection with the following caveats:

  • Access to audiovisual materials may first require production of research copies.
  • This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.
  • Portions of collection are stored offsite; researchers must give 48 hours advance notice.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works by OLOC within this collection. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Historical Note

The book Look Me in the Eye: Old Women, Aging and Ageism by Barbara Macdonald and Cynthia Rich (1983), which exposed the harsh realities of ageism on old women, was the inspiration for the founding of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. In April 1987, the First West Coast Conference by and for Old Lesbians in Southern California was held at the California State University Dominguez Campus in Carson, California. It was so successful that in August 1989, Old Lesbians in Northern California sponsored The Second West Coast Conference. Out of the larger group of Old Lesbians attending these two events came a smaller group of sixteen that wished to concentrate their efforts on challenging ageism. This group founded The Old Lesbian Organizing Committee, which was later renamed Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. Participation was strictly limited to lesbians sixty years of age and older, although OLOC has always welcomed the support of younger lesbians, encouraging them to work against ageism while respecting the need for separate space for Old Lesbians. To minimize travel expenses for committee members, most meetings during the first two years were held in California. A concerted effort was then made to expand the geographic representation by moving the meetings around the country; frequency of meetings was later changed from quarterly to twice a year.

OLOC quickly established a newsletter to reach Old Lesbians around the country and began enrolling subscribers. Committee members focused early efforts on development of educational materials on ageism, using the familiar and effective format of consciousness raising sessions. These materials were pooled and published in The Facilitator's Handbook: Confronting Ageism: Consciousness Raising for Lesbians 60 and Over (early 1990s). Much of OLOC's early work was done within both the women's and LGBT communities, since ageism was as entrenched in those communities as it was in society at large. Often at its own expense, OLOC provided speakers and presentations to dozens of workshops and conferences, challenging the status quo and demanding to be a part of the process. OLOC felt strongly that younger people couldn't effectively speak for Old Lesbians and insisted that Old Lesbians be allowed to represent themselves. OLOC was a strong and highly visible part of the National Lesbian Conference in Atlanta in 1991 as well as the March on Washington in 1993. By 1992, OLOC sought and gained non-profit status, incorporating in the state of Texas, and in 1994 also achieved tax-exempt status. In 1996, OLOC held its first National Gathering, bringing together Old Lesbians from coast to coast, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Hundreds of Old Lesbians gathered in San Francisco, California in 1999. In 2002, OLOC held it's third Gathering, again in Minnesota. Old Lesbians at the Gatherings expressed a strong desire for more frequent opportunities to get together, so the schedule was switched from once every three years to every other year. In 2004, the fourth National OLOC Gathering was held in Houston, Texas and in 2006, the group convened in Durham, North Carolina. The 2008 Gathering, held in Los Angeles, California, will be followed by future Gatherings on each even-numbered year.

In addition to a quarterly newsletter, The OLOC Reporter, and biennial Gatherings, OLOC confronts ageism wherever it is found. OLOC has also been associated with the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project, which gathers the unique stories of lesbians who are seventy years of age and older. OLOC operates both as a national organization and through local chapters that have formed across the country.

[source: OLOC Website]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

THe Records contain extensive documentation of all OLOC gatherings to date (1987-2004), including photographs, and videotapes of panel discussions and keynote speeches. Administrative files, newsletters and other publications, and educational and public relations materials are also included, as is a history of the organization.

[NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection with the following caveats:

  • Access to audiovisual materials may first require production of research copies.
  • This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.
  • Portions of collection are stored offsite; researchers must give 48 hours advance notice.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works by OLOC within this collection. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Old Lesbians Organizing for Change Records, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

The OLOC Records were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection beginning in 2011

Accruals:

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Processing Information

Accessioned by Burd Schlessinger, 2011


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English


Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Ageism -- United States
  • Lesbian communities -- United States -- History
  • Lesbians -- United States -- History
  • Lesbians activists -- United States -- Sources
  • Old Lesbians Organizing for Change
  • Older lesbians -- United States
  • Older people -- United States
  • Older women -- United States -- Sources


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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