Judy Freespirit papers

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
657 Mission Street, #300
San Francisco, California 94105
(415) 777-5455

Descriptive Summary

Title: Judy Freespirit papers
Dates: 1971-2010
Collection Number: 2008-48
Extent: 7.1 linear feet (7 cartons and 1 oversize folder)
Repository: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
San Francisco, California 94105
Abstract: This collection contains Judy Freespirit’s published writings, manuscripts, personal journals and audio and videotapes of her readings, performances and interviews. The subjects of her writings and performances are often autobiographical and refer to her activist efforts in support of lesbians, fat acceptance, disability rights and Jewish culture.
Language of Material: English


Collection is open for research. Funding for processing this collection was provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Publication Rights

Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. The exceptions are the photos by Cathy Cade. Please contact the Managing Archivist for more information.

Preferred Citation

Judy Freespirit papers. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

Acquisition Information

Gift of Judy Freespirit, aka Judith Ackerman, on November 18, 2008.

Biography/Administrative History

Judy Freespirit, (born Judith Louise Berkowitz) was born in Detroit in 1936 to a working class Jewish family of Eastern Europe decent. Subject to her father’s incest at an early age and pressured to diet beginning at eight, she identifies dancing and theater performances as her main ways of surviving through high school. At 35, as she was finishing her master’s degree in the early 1970s, Judy discovered the Women’s Liberation Movement in L.A. and began sharing Radical Therapy skills in women’s rap groups. She soon left her husband and eleven year old son and came out as a lesbian. In 1976 Judy was one of the founders of the Fat Underground in L. A. Later, on moving to the Bay Area, she wrote, danced and performed in “Fat Chance”, a performance group, and “Fat Lip Reader’s Theater.” In the 1980s and ‘90s Judy continued to write about her life as a fat, Jewish, lesbian incest survivor with disabilities. She died on September 10, 2010 in San Francisco.

Scope and Content of Collection

Judy Freespirit (1936-2010) was an activist, writer, and performer focused on the subjects of women, lesbians, Jewish culture, fat acceptance, disability rights, and incest survival. The collection includes personal journals, Judy’s writings and manuscripts, and video and audio tapes of her readings and interviews, There are files on her various fields of activism; her participation in the Oakland Unitarian Church, and Re-evaluation Co-counseling. The collection also includes t-shirts, buttons and photographs.

Indexing Terms

Jewish lesbians
Lesbian feminism.
Homosexuality--California--San Francisco Metropolitan Area--History.

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