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The Waitresses records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: The Waitresses records
    Date (inclusive): 1971-2015, undated
    Number: 2017.M.45
    Creator/Collector: Waitresses (Group of artists)
    Physical Description: 61 Linear Feet (56 boxes, 2 flatfile folders, 22 videocassettes, 19 audiocassettes, 10 audiotape reels, 15 videodiscs, and 3 audio discs. Computer media: 6.3 GB [41 files], and 6 unprocessed compact discs)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The Waitresses was one of the first performance art groups to emerge from the Los Angeles Woman's Building. Founded in 1977 by Jerri Allyn and Anne Gauldin, the group used their collective experiences working as waitresses to explore feminist issues such as sex discrimination and wage inequality in the food service industry. Materials in the collection document the performances produced by the group from 1976 to 1985, as well as American Dining: A Working Woman's Movement, a performance produced by Jerri Allyn from 1986 to 1989. Materials also relate to a 25th anniversary re-staging of five performances in 2007, as well as other exhibitions and publications about The Waitresses after 1985. The collection consists of performance notes, scripts, costumes, photographs, press clippings, props and ephemera, research files related to social issues in the food service industry, and audiovisual recordings related to various performances and exhibitions.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English.

    Biographical / Historical

    The Waitresses was a performance art group founded by Jerri Allyn and Anne Gauldin in 1977 while they were students at the Feminist Studio Workshop (FSW), a program of the Los Angeles Woman's Building. Drawing from their experiences working as waitresses, they created performance art related to the issues of sex discrimination, stereotyping, and wage inequality. The group staged their first performance, the seven-day Ready to Order? (1978) which took place at various restaurants in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles and intended to educate customers who may not have been aware of labor issues in the food service industry. The group eventually grew to include fourteen members, including Elizabeth Canelake, Anne Mavor, Anita Green, Chutney Gunderson, and Denise Yarfitz, who wore waitress uniforms and adapted personas such as "Wonder Waitress" and the multi-breasted "Great Goddess Diana," in various performances produced in restaurants, conferences, and other unconventional settings. The Waitresses stopped performing in 1985, but Jerri Allyn continued creating performance art related to the issues surrounding waitressing in the performance series American Dining: A Working Woman's Movement , from 1986 to 1989.
    Sources Consulted:
    Allyn, Jerri, and Gauldin, Anne. The Waitresses Unpeeled: Performance Art and Life . Los Angeles: Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, 2011.
    Tain, John. Acquisition Approval Form for "The Waitresses records, 1976-2015, accession no. 2017.M.45," May 16, 2016.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers. Some items are unavailable pending conservation. Born-digital content will be made available on-site only, through the digital preservation repository. Born-digital content and audiovisual materials are unavailable until reformatted. Contact reference for reformatting.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    The Waitresses records, 1971-2015, undated, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2017.M.45.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Jerri Allyn and Anne Gauldin, The Waitresses. Acquired in 2017.

    Processing Information

    Allison Ransom processed the collection and wrote the finding aid in 2019 under the supervision of Jasmine Larkin and Kit Messick.
    Digital materials were processed by Laura Schroffel in 2019. Files require further processing before access copies can be made available.
    This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, ST-03-17-0007-17.

    Related Materials

    L.A. Artists for Survival records relating to Target L.A., 1981-1984, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.46
    Sisters of Survival records, 1981-1985, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.47
    Woman's Building records, 1971-2016, Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 2017.M.43
    Several publications have been transferred to the Getty Research Library's general collections. These can be searched in the online catalog under the search phrase "Waitresses Collection."

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The records document the activities of The Waitresses performance group during the years it was active from 1976 to 1985. Also present in the collection are records related to the performance American Dining: A Working Woman's Movement, which was enacted in various restaurants throughout the United States by Jerri Allyn from 1986 to 1989. Subsequent performances, exhibitions, and publications created about The Waitresses, and the social issues the group explored, are also present in the collection. The materials were compiled by Jerri Allyn and Anne Gauldin and reflect the role The Waitresses played in the broader context of performance art in Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s.
    The records comprise files, scripts, videos, costumes, photographs, press clippings, and original artwork related to various performances enacted by The Waitresses, as well as later exhibitions and publications related to the group. Also included are administrative files, correspondence, and files related to books published about The Waitresses, feminist art, and performance art.


    The records are arranged in two series: ; .Series I. Performance and exhibition files, 1971-2015, undated Series II. Publications and Waitresses history, 1976-2013, undated

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)

    Subjects - Topics

    Art, American -- California -- 20th century
    Feminism and art -- United States -- 20th century
    Women artists -- Archives
    Women artists -- California -- Los Angeles
    Performance art -- United States -- 20th century
    Sex discrimination against women
    Women artists -- United States -- 20th century

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Black-and-white prints (photographs) -- United States -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Color transparencies
    Color slides
    Printed ephemera
    Born digital
    Black-and-white negatives
    Color negatives
    Gelatin silver prints -- United States -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Chromogenic color prints -- United States -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Videodiscs (video recording disks)
    Open reel audiotapes
    Sound recordings
    Video recordings


    Waitresses (Group of artists)
    Gauldin, Anne
    Allyn, Jerri, 1952-