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Finding aid of the Dorothy C. Putnam and Lois Mercer Papers
Coll2008-038  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Photographs, correspondence, typescripts, newspaper clippings, a trophy and scrapbooks relating to Dorothy C. Putnam (1895-1991) and her partner of 50 years, Lois Mercer (1894-1989), bookkeeper for ONE, Inc. The majority of the materials document Putnam's life and family from her adolescence as a horseback mail carrier in Oregon; her activities as the first licensed female chauffeur in California; her wins in economy-run driving races in the 1920s; and her service in the Women's Ambulance and Transport Corps of California (W.A.T.C.C.) and U.S. Air Force during World War II. Materials also document Lois Mercer's service in the U.S. Air Force during World War II; her contribution to ONE, Inc., from 1953; Putnam and Mercer's community activism; and their 50 years of life together in Los Angeles.
Background
Dorothy "Dot" Crocker Putnam was born in Massachusetts on October 15, 1895, the daughter of Frank Wright Putnam and Elle Crocker Putnam. She is a descendant of American Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam, and claimed to be a cousin of Amelia Earhart (although the relationship may have been to Earhart's husband, George Putnam). As a young woman, Putnam was a horseback mail carrier in Oregon. She later moved to Los Angeles, where she developed an interest in automobiles. In 1918, she became the first licensed female chauffeur in California, her clients including Carole Lombard, Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable. In addition, she also won a number of driving contests in Los Angeles during the 1920s. During World War II, she served in the Women's Ambulance and Transport Corps of California (W.A.T.C.C.), and later the Air Force, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant. After retiring from the Air Force, she became the first female senior truck driver for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
Extent
1 archive carton + 1 archive box + 2 flat archive cartons + 1 trophy. 3.9 linear feet.
Restrictions
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).
Availability
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.