Scope and Content
Organization and Arrangement
Broomstick magazine records
Date (inclusive): 1972-2005
Collection number: 1976
56 document boxes (40 linear ft.)
and 8 oversize flat boxes.
Broomstick, founded in 1978 by Maxine Spencer and Polly Taylor in the San Francisco Bay area, is an independent, self-published radical
feminist magazine dedicated to supporting and promoting women and lesbian activism and art for an audience of women over forty.
Its main goals focused on confronting ageism, stereotypes of the disabled, and breaking down gender conventions in publishing.
The magazine ran through 1993 and explores topics related to radical feminist politics, lesbian culture and art, spirituality
of the Crone, women and aging, and feminist coalitions and communities. The collection contains a complete run of the magazine,
organizational records, financial statements, correspondence, submissions and rejections, and many of the plates used for
printing the magazine. The collection also contains Spencer's personal papers documenting her personal experiences with radical
feminism, lesbianism, disability, sexism, and age discrimination.
Language: Finding aid is written in
Language of the Material:
Materials are in English.
University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections
for paging information.
Restrictions on Access
Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library
Special Collections for paging information.
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the
creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright
owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Provenance/Source of Acquisition
Processed by Sandra Brasda in 2012 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Jillian Cuellar.
The processing of this collection was generously supported by
[Identification of item],
Broomstick magazine records (Collection 1976). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Maxine Spencer and Polly Taylor founded
Broomstick in Berkeley, California in 1978. The idea for
Broomstick was born when eight women over forty attended a Crone's Caucus and organized a loose coalition that would support, fund,
and collectively address concerns specific to older women. This peer-led group would also function as a supportive network
for activism. Together, Spencer and Taylor approached a newly formed feminist organization in Berkeley, "OPTIONS for Women
Over Forty." They asked OPTIONS for its endorsement and financial support to create a feminist political journal for and about
women over forty. In exchange, Spencer and Taylor pledged to publicize OPTIONS in the journal and promote their programs.
Though OPTIONS gave initial support and funding,
Broomstick grew into an independently published and funded magazine. Production of
Broomstick ended in 1993 due to fiscal insolvency, as evidenced in their financial statements and annual budget records.
As co-editors, Spencer and Taylor intended to develop and expand the mainstream feminist position in support of a growing
subculture in the lesbian community that promoted a more radical feminist agenda.
Broomstick would provide a unique social and political challenge to the feminist literature of its time. The magazine's staff borrowed
skills learned from their earlier feminist activities in the late 1960s and early 1970s, such as consciousness raising sessions
and feminist networking. Articles explored issues related to disability, lesbianism, ageism, sexism, and class struggle.
Broomstick's editors and contributors hoped that the journal's content would promote a greater understanding of older women's situation.
The magazine sought to honor and rescue the image of the Crone – an old woman, often called witch, historically revered as
healers and for their wisdom – from public derision. The name
Broomstick was chosen to symbolize women's shared skills and labor (homemaking), change and improvement (the new broom sweeps clean),
power (the witch flies on the broom), healing (the witch as ancient healer), and speaking out about what society considers
ugly. The magazine also explores a growing subculture of pagan and Wiccan spirituality, venerating the Crone.
Broomstick records were largely created and collected by Maxine Spencer, they provide a clear portrait of her life as an active radical
feminist and artist. Born in 1927, Spencer lived most of her adult life in the San Francisco Bay area. She was a life-long
artist, creating sculptures, mosaics, oils, watercolors, and acrylics. In the last decades of her life, Spencer also created
paper paintings using a technique she developed after becoming allergic to her paints. As an activist, she was involved in
civil rights, anti-war and feminist organizations; she often used her creative and artistic abilities in her activist work.
A former housewife, Spencer was married for fifteen years and had two sons. After her husband's death she returned to school
to pursue her PhD in psychology. At the age of forty-seven, she graduated and was unable to find employment, allegedly because
of her age. Her experiences in graduate school and struggles in the job market gave her intimate experience with ageism and
Spencer viewed her work on
Broomstick as both personal and political. She closely managed the magazine's business structure, and oversaw its production, organization,
financial health, and public image. As co-editor, she was very selective and protective about the magazine's political messages,
as evidenced in her extensive correspondence with contributors, subscribers, potential authors, businesses, institutions,
and other feminist organizations. Her experiences as a poor, pagan, Jewish, radical feminist are clearly reflected in the
magazine's ideology. Because the journal specifically targeted women over forty, its contents were meticulously screened.
Only women over forty could publish within the periodical, and men were strongly discouraged from submitting material, purchasing
subscriptions, or contributing to the discourse. The magazine's editors were sensitive to material that they felt may send
the wrong political statement or offend its readers.
Broomstick created a unique and important network between editors, authors, and readers. The large, complex community that revolved
Broomstick's maintenance and distribution was a self-supported underground rich with resourcefulness, networking, and interaction. Evidence
of the legacy of independent feminist magazines like
Broomstick that existed in the 1980s to the early 1990s may be found in the subsequent feminist zine culture that arose in the mid 1990s.
Scope and Content
Broomstick magazine records document the publication's production process, content, intellectual and political scope, editorial process,
administrative and financial history, and advertising strategies. The collection contains a complete set of the magazine,
event calendars, correspondence, advertisements, promotional material, submissions, financial records, and many of the templates
used for printing the magazine. Included are materials from feminist conferences, talks, poetry, cartoons, and research files.
A hallmark feature of
Broomstick was its principle policy of participatory journalism. Most of
Broomstick's content was written by its readers. Letters, poems, short stories, and articles were actively solicited. These participatory
records, known as Author Files, comprise the majority of the
Broomstick magazine collection. One of the magazine's main goals was to demystify the process of publishing.
Broomstick provided a unique venue for older women to publish their art, poetry, creative and feminist writing, while building and supporting
feminist coalitions and communities. Though it was a small, do-it-yourself publication,
Broomstick often reached a national and international audience, documented by
Broomstick's financial records and invoices.
Broomstick featured recurring themes and columns, such as: "An Apple a Day" (featuring items about the health concerns of women over
forty), "Watchcraft" (a dedicated surveillance column for readers to report ageism in public media and commercial establishments),
"Show and Tell" (designed to develop positive images of midlife and older women), "Caveat Feminia" (legal issues of concern
to women over forty), and "For and About" (a column for women who are not yet forty to discuss their relationships with older
women, share their feelings on aging, and learn about ageism).
Broomstick published issues on special topics of interest to older women, such as an issue dedicated to menopause, which was so popular
that a second printing was necessary to fulfill the demand. The issue furnished information women reported from their own
lives. Theme issues included: ageing, appearance/fat, feminism, allergies and other disabilities, grandmothers and older mothers,
mastectomy, violence, women and computers, and changing lifestyles. In addition, the magazine was at the forefront of exploring
fat phobia and body consciousness issues.
Broomstick provides a portrait of the growth of radical feminism in the late 1970s and 1980s. Its specific focus on disabled, lesbian
women over 40 years old adds to the magazine's unique research value; ageism and disability had not received extensive coverage
at that point in the feminist literature. Because
Broomstick was specifically geared towards women over forty, it may prove to be an important resource for those interested in the generation
gap between second-wave feminists during the 1970s and 1980s. The records also provide evidence of the alternative spiritual
lifestyle active in
Broomstick's underground feminist network.
Broomstick helped establish a spiritual community centered on the venerated image and faith in the Crone.
Broomstick records were largely created and collected by Maxine Spencer. The collection contains Spencer's personal papers including
unpublished manuscripts, personal therapy notes, correspondence with other feminist organizations, consciousness raising documents,
and content from courses she attended and taught. Spencer also collected other feminist publications and the work of some
of her contemporaries, specifically Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald.
Broomstick records not only document the history and internal workings of the magazine but they also trace Spencer's personal, political,
and professional life from 1970 to 1995.
Broomstick magazine records are organized into 5 series: Magazine Production, Publicity, Administrative, Author Files, and Personal
Papers. The vast majority of the
Broomstick magazine records are Author Files which includes correspondence to and from subscribers with the editors of
Broomstick, submissions and rejections.
Organization and Arrangement
Collection is arranged in the following series and subseries:
- Series 1: Magazine Production
- Subseries 1.1: Production
- Subseries 1.2: Content and Research
- Subseries 1.3:
Broomstick Magazine Issues
- Series 2: Publicity
- Subseries 2.1: Advertising
- Subseries 2.2: Public Relations
- Series 3: Administrative Records
- Subseries 3.1: Internal Records
- Subseries 3.2: Financial
- Subseries 3.3: Correspondence
- Series 4: Author Files
- Subseries 4.1: Submissions
- Subseries 4.2: Rejections
- Series 5: Personal Papers
- Subseries 5.1: Maxine Spencer
- Subseries 5.2: Other Contributors
Folders are arranged alphabetically. Original order was maintained when available.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Spencer, Maxine --Archives.
Broomstick (Firm) --Archives.
Lesbian feminism --United States --Periodicals.
Older women --Social conditions --Periodicals.