Biographical / Historical
Scope and Content of Collection
Language of Material:
Center for Sacramento History
Title: Linda Birner Mom Guess What collection
Identifier/Call Number: MS0138
6 cartons, 7 oversized boxes, 1 manuscript box, 1 half manuscript box, and 3 shoeboxes
21 Linear Feet
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.
Physical Location: SP:SV:31:J:2-5
Language of Material: Languages represented in the collection: English
Collection is open for research use.
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.
[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.
Donated from Linda Birner in 2022 (accession number 2022/031).
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 the first LGBT newspaper 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 21.48 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.
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.
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).
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
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