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Finding Aid for the Elaine Mikels papers, 1977-1984
1954  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Elaine Mikels papers
    Date (inclusive): 1977-1984
    Collection number: 1954
    Creator: Mikels, Elaine 1921-2004
    Extent: 4 document boxes (2 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Elaine Mikels was born in 1921 in Los Angeles where she spent much of her early life. Although raised Jewish, she attended Flintridge, a Catholic boarding school. Through different mediums Mikels has spoken about her early relationships with women, who identified as straight and later went on to get married. Similarly to other closeted women living in the 1940's, she had little concept of how to deal with her own relationships much less build community though shared interests. In the late sixties (approximately 1967), Elaine Mikels became, in her own estimation, political. She joined the anti-war movement, joined lesbian-feminist communities in Oregon and participated in peace action with lesbians in North Carolina. In 1976 she founded the Older Women's Network in order to bring older lesbian feminists together to share resources and achieve their activist goals. She would go on to participate in similar groups and helped to found the group Older Lesbians Organizing for Change later in her life. The Elaine Mikels Papers is predominantly comprised of photographs taken by Elaine Mikels in several different locations and with different groups of people. Included are photographs of lesbian activist gatherings, lesbian social gatherings and sports clubs, lesbian writing groups and self published newsletters. The collection contains over two hundred hand processed photographs. The collection also includes materials related to the publication of Elaine Mikels' autobiography, as well as a copy of the final published version. Also included are personal papers, journals, correspondence and various personal materials. The pictures contained in the Mikels collection of Feminary writer, producers and supporters reflect this new political imperative and the changes in content. The most prominent participant in the Feminary editorial collective was Minnie Bruce Pratt, photographs of her are contained within the collection. Also represented in the collection are photographs documenting the Women's Pentagon Action, a two thousand woman protest that surrounded the Pentagon in 1981. Eventually, Mikels settled in Santa Fe, but it is from this period in Oregon and North Carolina that most of her photographic collection represents.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Language of the Material: Materials are in English.
    Repository: 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.

    Administrative 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

    Provenance unknown. This collection is part of an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) and the UCLA Library.

    Sponsor

    The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive  at UCLA is an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives , the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW)  and the UCLA Library . These collections expand the pool of primary source materials available to researchers and to the community at large. This partnership was initiated by CSW and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to inventory, organize, preserve, and digitize more than eighty Mazer collections pertaining to lesbian and feminist activism and writings.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Stacy Wood, 2011.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Elaine Mikels papers (Collection Number 1954). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Biography/History

    Elaine Mikels was born in 1921 in Los Angeles where she spent much of her early life. Although raised Jewish, she attended Flintridge, a Catholic boarding school. Through different mediums Mikels has spoken about her early relationships with women, who identified as straight and later went on to get married. Similarly to other closeted women living in the 1940's, she had little concept of how to deal with her own relationships much less build community though shared interests. During this period she suffered from depression and was hospitalized for severe episodes.
    After WWII, Mikels worked in Germany with the Quakers through the State Department. She was expelled from the program because of her psychiatric record. She returned to the United States and settled briefly in New York. She then travelled for the next several years throughout Europe and the Middle East. In 1951 she settled in San Francisco and pursued social work. In San Francisco she became active in the Mattachine Society and ONE magazine. It was also during this period, in 1959, that she established the Conard House. The Conard House was the first halfway house in San Francisco, specifically conceived as a transitional community for people with mental illness who were returning to San Francisco from Napa State Hospital.
    In the late sixties (approximately 1967), Elaine Mikels became, in her own estimation, political. She joined the anti-war movement, joined lesbian-feminist communities in Oregon and participated in peace action with lesbians in North Carolina. In her own words, "When I broke away from the system in the late 1960's, I went through an amazing personal transformation, not unlike many others during this time of civil strife and the war in Vietnam. I was no longer afraid of authority figures." In 1976 she founded the Older Women's Network in order to bring older lesbian feminists together to share resources and achieve their activist goals. She would go on to participate in similar groups and helped to found the group Older Lesbians Organizing for Change later in her life.
    Feminary began as Feminist Journal for the South, funded through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where it was mimeographed by the group involved. With the inception of the Triangle Area Lesbian Feminists (TALF), the journal shifted focus somewhat and took on more of a lesbian-feminist bent.

    Chronology

    1921 Elaine Mikels born
    1951 Elaine Mikels moves to San Francisco
    1959 Elaine Mikels founds Conard House
    1976 Founding of OWN (Older Women's Network)
    1977 Women's Gathering in Ashland, OR.
    1981 Women's Pentagon Action
    June 12, 1982 Nuclear Disarmament Rally
    June 3 - July 4, 1983 PeaceWalk from Durham, N.C. to Seneca Peace Camp
    1983 Dyke Olympics
    1984 PeaceWalk from Gainesville, FL to Key West, FL.

    Scope and Content

    The Elaine Mikels Papers is predominantly comprised of photographs taken by Elaine Mikels in several different locations and with different groups of people. Included are photographs of lesbian activist gatherings, lesbian social gatherings and sports clubs, lesbian writing groups and self published newsletters. The collection contains over two hundred hand processed photographs. The collection also includes materials related to the publication of Elaine Mikels' autobiography, as well as a copy of the final published version. Also included are personal papers, journals, correspondence and various personal materials. The pictures contained in the Mikels collection of Feminary writers, producers and supporters reflect this new political imperative and the changes in content. The most prominent participant in the Feminary editorial collective was Minnie Bruce Pratt, photographs of her are contained within the collection. Also represented in the collection are photographs documenting the Women's Pentagon Action, a two thousand woman protest that surrounded the Pentagon in 1981. Eventually, Mikels settled in Santa Fe, but most of her photographic collection represents her time in Oregon and North Carolina.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Materials arranged chronologically.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Mikels, Elaine --Archives.
    Lesbian activists --United States --Archival resources.
    Older lesbians --United States --Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographs.

    Related Material

    Materials related to Elaine Mikels are also contained in two separate collections at Harvard University in the Schlesinger Library. Both the Cynthia Rich and Barbara McDonald, 1893-2004 collection and the Barbara Deming Papers: Series I-III, 1908- 1985 contain photographs of Mikels's. Elaine also has a published memoir entitled, Just Lucky I Guess: From Closeted Lesbian to Radical Dyke.