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Birner (Linda) Mom Guess What collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Publication Rights
  • Access
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Related Materials
  • Separated Materials
  • Deaccession Note

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Center for Sacramento History
    Title: Linda Birner Mom Guess What collection
    creator: Birner, Linda
    Identifier/Call Number: MS0138
    Physical Description: 22 Linear Feet (6 cartons, 7 oversized boxes, 2 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, and 3 shoeboxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1925-2022
    Date (bulk): 1970-2022
    Abstract: The Linda Birner Mom Guess What collection documents founder of Mom Guess What newspaper, Linda Birner's, interest in spreading information about the LGBT community in Sacramento during the 1970s through the 2020s. Material dates from 1925 to 2022, with the bulk from 1970 to 2022. The collection consists of MGW newspaper publications, papers, artifacts, media, and photographic material as well as Birner's personal photographic material, papers, media, correspondence, and collected material, including books and newspaper clippings.
    Language of Material: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Publication Rights

    All requests to publish or quote from private manuscripts held by the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) must be submitted in writing to the archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of CSH as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the patron. No permission is necessary to publish or quote from public records.


    Collection is open for research use.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, prepared according to standard citation style such as MLA, ALA, or Turabian], [2022/031], Linda Birner Mom Guess What Collection, Center for Sacramento History.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated from Linda Birner in 2022 and 2023 (accession number 2022/031 and 2023/039).

    Processing Information

    Processing by Sabrina Holecko, 2022.

    Biographical / Historical

    Linda Birner was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on January 21, 1949. Her family moved to Timberlake, Ohio before relocating to Sacramento in 1962 when her father took a position with Aerojet. She graduated from Mira Loma High School and California State University, Sacramento with a degree in journalism and psychology.
    Under the mentorship of the editor of the Sacramento Bee, C.K. McClatchy, Birner founded one of the first LGBT newspapers in Sacramento County in November of 1978. Named after a popular coming out phrase, Mom…Guess What! (MGW) newspaper was created in response to Proposition Six sponsored by State Senator John Briggs. A distressing time for the gay and lesbian community, Proposition Six was a California ballot measure that proposed to ban gay and lesbian people as well as their supporters from teaching in public schools. On November 7, 1978, Californians voted down the measure. MGW newspaper went to press to advocate against this measure and continued to be a place for LGBT folks to learn their community news and help educate heterosexual people for many years.
    In addition to educating the LGBT community and their allies, Birner was heavily involved in the Sacramento community. She received the Sacramento YWCA Outstanding Women award in 1985 and recognition for serving on the Human Rights Commission from 1977 until 1981. She served as an advisor to the Sacramento City Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and was involved in the Renaissance Society among many other organizations and causes. Her 40th birthday was celebrated at the Benefit for the Sacramento AIDS Foundations' Hand to Hand Project and Hope for House hosted by Jane Fonda. In her personal life, Birner was an avid equestrian, race car driver, recreational sailor, and owner of dogs, specifically schnauzers.
    In 2004, Birner no longer controlled MGW. Eventually, it became Guess What Media, LLC owned by Jeffery Daivs.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Linda Birner Mom Guess What collection consists of 22 linear feet. The first series is arranged into seven subseries reflecting the personal life of Linda Birner. Birner's personal life was interwoven with her professional standing as an LGBTQ businesswoman in the Sacramento area. This is most clearly documented in her correspondences and subject files, her contacts and cards, her personal photographic material, and her collected LGBTQ materials. Also represented in this series are her hobbies in horse riding and sailing since she was a child, race car driving from a young adult, and a love of dogs. Her calendars from 1960-2022 document her busy lifestyle with MGW and her personal commitments in the Sacramento community.
    The second series highlights MGW newspaper records and newspapers that Birner kept, including her notes and research over the years, a few templates of front pages, tapes of interviews, photographs and negatives of Birner and staff at parties, and MGW newspaper in other publications such as the Sacramento Bee. This collection also includes MGW newspaper publications from 1980 until 2003 that compliments the collection of MGW newspaper publications in the Allen Chamberlin LGBTQ Newspaper Collection (MS0024). The title of the newspaper has changed over the years, including Mom…Guess What…!, Mom Guess What newspaper, MGW newspaper, and MGW newsmagazine.
    The third series documents Birner's involvement in the Sacramento community in addition to the Mom Guess What newspaper business. It documents her training and involvement with the Sacramento police from 1994-2004 in a gay and lesbian advisory position. Birner participated in other organizations and causes in the Sacramento community, including the Renaissance Society (2019-2021) and the California Capital Political Action Committee CAL/PAC (1998-2001). The Snow White Ball, which Birner organized for over 20 years, is documented in photographs and negatives from 1970 until 2000.
    The fourth series illustrates the Birner and Dean family through photographs and film from 1925 until the 1970s.
    The fifth series looks at LGBTQ publications Birner received with personalized notes from the authors and friends or highlighted areas and marginal notes.


    The collection is arranged into 5 series: Series 1. Personal files, ca. 1950-2022 Series 2. Mom Guess What newspaper, ca. 1970-2020 Series 3. Community involvement, ca. 1970-2021 Series 4. Birner family, ca. 1925-2010 Series 5. Publications, 1974-2013

    Related Materials

    The Allen Chamberlin LGBTQ Newspaper Collection (MS0024) and the Lavender Library, Archives, and Cultural Exchange (LLACE) collection (MS0078) at CSH also contain LGBT material

    Separated Materials

    Artifacts have been separated from the archival material. These include several MGW T-shirts, a MGW clock, award plaques, Sacramento's Horsemen's Association ribbons, political pins, Linda Birner's Austin Healey Sprite racing suit, a 1992 Pride Power water bottle, two MGW license plates, MGW pens, a MGW watch, a MGW canvas picture, two MGW nameplates, and a Sacramento Equality Night towel. They have been assigned object numbers (2022/031/002-053).

    Deaccession Note

    All driver's licenses and passports were removed for personal privacy. Sabrina Holecko, 7/22/2022.
    All receipts were removed from the collection for financial privacy. Sabrina Holcko, 7/22/2022.
    Some correspondences and photos were removed from the collection due to Personal Identifying Information (PII) and personal privacy. Sabrina Holecko, 7/22/2022.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Gays -- Periodicals
    Lesbians -- Periodicals
    Gay Liberation Movement -- California -- Periodicals
    Homosexuality -- California -- Newspapers
    Gay Activists -- California -- Newspapers
    Sacramento (Calif.) -- Newspapers
    Women's Rights -- California
    AIDS (Disease) -- Social Aspects