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Guide to the California Women's March posters and ephemera, 2017
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Administrative History:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: California Women's March posters and ephemera, 2017
    Identification: M000014
    Creator: Sutro Library Staff
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Sutro Library, California State Library
    1630 Holloway Avenue
    5th floor
    San Francisco, CA, 94132-4030
    URL: http://www.library.ca.gov/about/sutro_main.html
    Email: sutro@library.ca.gov
    Phone: 415-469-6100
    Abstract: The bulk of this collection consists of 288 posters collected from various Women’s Marches in California, plus some ephemera and artifacts that accompanied or supplements the posters. The ephemera includes testimonials, photographs, and media coverage. The artifacts include pussy hats, sashes, and pin-back buttons. The marches represented took place in Albany, Chico, Los Angeles, Oakland, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Rosa; Californians also marched in Washington, DC.

    Administrative History:

    The Women's March was a worldwide protest that happened on January 21, 2017. Marches occurred across California, the United States, and the world. Held the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the event drew millions of people, and photographs of posters from the march were immediately circulated on social media as well as traditional media. Marchers were advocating for a multitude of issues including women's rights, human rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, LGBTQ rights, gender equality, racial equality, freedom of religion, workers' rights, and the environment and climate change.

    Access Terms

    This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Topical Term:

    Demonstrations -- History -- 21st century.
    Demonstrations -- Washington (D.C.).
    Demonstrations – California.
    Human rights -- History -- 21st century.
    Human rights.
    Protest movements -- History -- 21st century.
    Protest movements.
    Signs and signboards.
    Women's rights -- History -- 21st century.
    Women's rights.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information:

    The Sutro Library solicited Women's March materials in a variety of ways. Two weeks before the Marches occurred, Mattie Taormina, Director, Sutro Library, California State Library, posted a message in each California city's Women's March Facebook page soliciting participants to donate their posters after the March concludes. She also posted several messages on the app NextDoor to her local community's bulletin board alerting people to the possibility of donating items post-March. Additionally, a message was sent to Calix (listserv for all California public libraries and librarians) and west_arch (listserv for California archives and archivists) with the same information. This process was repeated again a few days before the Marches occurred. On the day of the Marches, the Director picked up abandoned posters after the San Francisco March and approached people on BART to see if they would be willing to donate their posters. Simultaneously, friends of the Director solicited people at Marches in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Sacramento. Monica Rivas, a staff member at the California State Library in Sacramento, stood outside the State Library with a large bin and asked people to donate their signs. A day after the Marches occurred, the Director posted a message again asking people to donate their march materials using the above mentioned methods. Many items came in from all over California via US post. The Director personally collected from individual’s homes in Palo Alto and along the San Francisco Peninsula. Further donations came in from around the Bay Area as word about the archive spread. These items were dropped off at the Sutro Library reference desk or given to staff directly.

    Processing Information:

    At the start of processing the collection was undifferentiated piles of posters, artifacts, and supporting materials including letters, photographs, and media coverage with only notes of the location of the march for each poster or artifact noted in pencil on the item. The collection was arranged, described, and processed by project archivist Laura O’Hara with the assistance of San Francisco State University (SFSU) history students Alesha Marie Sohler and Margaret Paz who inventoried and described the individual posters and SFSU museum studies student Elizabeth Beutel who performed preservation, including stick removal. Sariah Groff, Section Head, Preservation Section, California State Library, provided preservation guidance.
    The posters were sorted by size to simplify the final housing. Also for housing purposes, sticks were removed. The sticks were numbered so that they could be reunited with their posters for display purposes. A few sticks were too recalcitrant to be removed safely; those posters are stored in the final boxes of the poster series. The posters are described at an item level with the message that appears on the poster serving as a title. Each poster is further described with details about iconography and themes as well as physical descriptions. The students inventoried into a spreadsheet with columns for Item number (assigned at time of inventory), Message (transcribed), Iconography (including some color notations, free flow description), Themes and keywords not explicit in the words of the message, Pop culture reference notes, Location of march, Date of march, Dimensions (LOC Graphic Materials Rules 3D2.1.), Material, and Preservation notes. Some duplicates were identified and offered to other repositories. The posters were boxed from small to large so any that needed to be bumped up in size would not require rearrangement to accommodate it. Several housing decisions were made during boxing. Posters that posed sticking hazards, i.e. items that were laminated in tape or had paint that was still tacky or was in some other way at risk of sticking to the poster next to it over time, were enclosed in clear bags. Posters that posed abrasion hazards, generally the items that were photo printed or were at risk of being scratched by their neighbors, were interleaved with tissue. The number of items in a folder was determined by the thickness of the items. The folders were numbered in the lower left corner of the long open edge. The folders are stacked with the smallest number at the bottom of the box and work up.
    Items that were attached or accompanied posters, as well as non-poster items that were donated, were separated into the other series. The Attachments, Photos, Ephemera, and Testimonials were described at a folder level and arranged geographically in a document box. The Media Coverage were inventoried and flattened for storage in a flat box. The Artifacts were inventoried at an item level then tagged and stored in artifact boxes.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Property rights reside with the repository. Any applicable literary rights would reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please email sutro@library.ca.gov

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] California Women's March posters and ephemera, 2017, M000014, Sutro Library, California State Library, San Francisco, Calif.

    Related Materials:

    M000015 California Women's March posters and ephemera, 2018, Sutro Library, California State Library

    Arrangement of Materials:

    The collection is arranged in four series: Series 1 Attachments, Photos, Ephemera, and Testimonials, Series 2 Posters, Series 3 Artifacts, and Series 4 Media Coverage.
    Series 1 is described at a folder level. The folder titles were assigned by the archivist to identify and describe the contents. The folders are arranged alphabetically by location of the related March with material from unidentified locations filed at the end of the series. Some of the material goes with specific posters in the collection having either been attached to the poster upon donation or donated separately; that connection is recorded in the folder title. Also, some material is tangentially related to specific posters in the collection and that connection is recorded in the folder title. Some material is not connected to any specific posters.
    Series 2 is described at the item level and are arranged by size. Titles are the message that appears on the poster. The posters were inventoried and then boxed based on size and so the poster (item) numbers are not sequential.
    Series 3 is described at an item level. Titles are bibliographic entries including publications, headline, date, author, and précis.
    Series 4 is also described at an item level and are arranged by format and/or size. Titles were assigned by the archivist to identify and describe the item.
    Any series that contains non-California material includes that non-California material at the end.

    Scope and Contents

    The bulk of this collection consists of 288 posters collected from various Women’s Marches in California, plus some ephemera and artifacts that accompanied or supplements the posters. The ephemera includes testimonials, photographs, and media coverage. The artifacts include pussy hats, sashes, and pin-back buttons. The marches represented took place in Albany, Chico, Los Angeles, Oakland, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Rosa; Californians also marched in Washington, DC.
    The first series—Attachments, Photos, Ephemera, and Testimonials—are materials that were donated along with the posters. Attachments came affixed to individual posters and the folder title indicates which poster. Generally they identify the march or marcher though sometimes they are notes about why march or why donate. The photographs are of people at the marches as well as those preparing for them. The ephemera includes postcards, stickers, and other collateral handed out ahead of or during a march. Testimonials accompanied some posters while others were submitted on their own. They are longer-form pieces that explain the reasoning or philosophy of the marcher or are reflections upon the march. Some of these materials reveal a network of sisterhood. For example photos and testimonial from one marcher in San Francisco were submitted with testimonial from another marcher who marched in Santa Rosa.
    The second series contains only posters. They bear messages ranging from the political to the personal. They reflect the concerns of the marchers and include messages about women’s rights, human rights, immigration, LGBTQ issues, gender equality, Trump, federal and state government, the environment and climate change, Black Lives Matter, Unity, Community, disability, health issues, and the future. Iconography is widely varied, but some images appear frequently including fists, hearts, rainbows, peace sign, and gender symbols. Posters were constructed using of a wide variety of materials. Most were handmade with craft supplies, and some were clearly made with whatever was at hand including construction scraps. Other posters in this series were produced by individuals with professional design training and resources. One national march organizer provided digital files for local use so similar or like items appeared at more than one march.
    The third series, Media Coverage, was collected at the same time as the posters. It is mostly local to the San Francisco Bay Area and covers topics from the marches themselves to the creation of pussy hats and posters, to the poster collecting efforts by the Sutro Library and others.
    The fourth series, Artifacts, includes pussy hats and other garments, pin-back buttons, and a book. The pussy hats are both the traditional pink and also a hand-knit rainbow LGBTQ pussy hat. There are three improvised garments that could be characterized as sandwich boards made of fabric (pillowcases in two cases). These garments bear messages just like the posters. There are also three sashes in the style of beauty pageant sashes, each bearing a message. One is homemade while two appear to be printed. The book, donated by San Francisco State University Professor Suzanne Pullen, is Why We March: Signs of Protest: Voices from the Women’s march. It includes photos of Women’s Marches all over the United States and the world, including some of the California marches represented in this collection.