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The J. Tilman Williams, Oazo de Esperanto, and Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Preferred Citation
  • Arrangement
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Separated Materials
  • Esperanto History
  • Esperanto Klubo de Los Angeles and Member Information
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Custodial History

  • Language of Material: Multiple languages
    Contributing Institution: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections
    Title: The J. Tilman Williams, Oazo de Esperanto, and Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Collection
    creator: Chomette, Charles
    creator: Burg, Brian Neil
    creator: Glenny , William West
    creator: Scherer, Joseph R.
    Identifier/Call Number: SPC.2018.044
    Physical Description: 38 boxes 29 document boxes, 1 photograph box, 8 boxes in various sizes, and 15 over sized folders.
    Physical Description: 25.75 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1900-February 2018
    Date (bulk): 1927-1960
    Language of Material: The collection is predominantly in Esperanto and English. Material in other languages is indicated at the file level.
    Abstract: The J. Tilman Williams, Oazo de Esperanto, and Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Collection (JTW, ODE, and EKLA Esperanto Collection for short) includes periodicals, dictionaries, vocabularies, grammar books, yearbooks, directories, correspondence, photographs, ephemera, and realia related to Esperanto and the Esperanto speaking community. Subjects include the Esperanto Klubo of Los Angeles, Esperanto studies, and Esperanto associations.

    Preferred Citation

    [Title of item], The J. Tilman Williams, Oazo de Esperanto and Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Collection, Courtesy of the Department of Archives and Special Collection. University Library. California State University, Dominguez Hills


    The collection is arranged into eight series.

    Series List:

    Series One:
    Esperanto Periodicals
    Series Two:
    Dictionaries, Vocabularies, Grammar Books, Bibliographies, and Book Catalogs
    Series Three:
    Yearbooks and Directories
    Series Four:
    Instructional Materials
    Series Five:
    Series Six:
    Travel Material, Esperanto Organization Material, and Ephemera
    Series Seven:
    Series Eight:

    Conditions Governing Access

    There are no access restrictions on this collection.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Separated Materials

    The collection includes over three hundred books and pamphlets that can be searchable through the University Library catalog (https://www.csudh.edu/library/) or WorldCat (www.worldcat.org). All items are labeled as The J. Tilman Williams/Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Collection.

    Esperanto History

    Esperanto is a constructed language that was created by L.L. (Ludwig Lazar) Zamenhof in the late 1800s. Zamenhof was born in 1859 to a Jewish family and was the oldest out of four brothers and three sisters. His family lived in Bialystok, a city in Poland that had a history of being part of Prussian and Russian territory. Several different communities resided within Bialystok, including Jewish, German, Russian, and Polish, which created a linguistic and cultural divide. This divide was one of Zamenhof's influences in the construction of the universal language, Esperanto.
    Zamenhof had his first banquet to initiate the new language in 1878, though his first book titled, Unua Libro (First Book) was not published until 1887. The Unua Libro was written in Russian, Polish, German, and French and mainly discussed the language and the idea behind it. The second book titled, Dua Libro was released a year later in Esperanto. The first and second book, along with Zamenhof's promotion increased the awareness of the language. In 1888 small Esperanto groups began to form.
    In the 1900s Esperanto became more widespread internationally with international congresses being held in Barcelona in 1909 and Antwerp in 1911. Several organizations, like the Universal Esperanto Association, began to form and create periodicals and world offices to promote Esperanto. The language continued to flourish until the start of World War One, where priorities shifted away from the promotion of the language.
    After World War One, Esperanto had a resurgence. Esperanto was proposed to the League of Nations for use as the language for international relations. Although the proposal was accepted by most, it was not passed due to one vote. It was later recommended that all members of the League of Nations include Esperanto in educational material. This promotion of the language did not last long because some countries banned or discouraged the use of the language during World War Two and the Cold War.
    Although Esperanto faced many challenges, it continues as a language spoken today by approximately two million people. Congresses and meetups occur in different countries to promote the use of Esperanto and to connect people with interests in Esperanto.

    Esperanto Klubo de Los Angeles and Member Information

    Some of the material within the collection is from members of the Esperanto Klubo de Los Angeles which was later known as the Esperanto Association of Los Angeles. The club was founded by Joseph Scherer, William Braff, and Mr. Branson in 1927. The meetings were initially held at the Central Public Library but moved to the Boos Brothers Cafeteria and private homes so they could sing and play music. In the early 1930s, the club grew and included Charles Chomette, Donald Evans Parrish, John F. Clewe and their families. Later members of the club included William West Glenny, Brian Neil Burg, and J. Tilman Williams.
    Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Members
    Joseph R. Scherer (1901-1967)
    Joseph R. Scherer (1901-1967) was born in Switzerland and later moved to the United States. He toured the world giving lectures on Esperanto and customs about other countries. Scherer also briefly worked in Hollywood consulting for movies that used Esperanto.
    Charles Chomette
    Charles Chomette came to the United States from France in 1919. He met his wife Germaine in 1928 and had two daughters Lilio and Dianto, who like their mother and father spoke Esperanto. Chomette was active in the Esperanto community and was apart of the Esperanto Klubo of Los Angeles in the 1930s. He died in April 1969.
    William West Glenny
    William West Glenny was a later member and president of the Esperanto Klubo de Los Angeles. He worked professionally as a patent attorney and was an advocate for Esperanto.
    Brian Neil Burg
    [Biography written by Brian Neil Burg in 2019.]
    I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and I have lived in Fullerton since 1978; got my B.A. in Psychology at the University of Southern California (1970); my J.D. degree from Western State University College of Law (1983); and obtained a California Secondary Teaching Credential in Mathematics through California State University Fullerton (2003). I have worn several career hats: software engineer (1974-1985); attorney-at-law (1984-2019—officially retired in January—with concentrations in family law, estate planning, and immigration in the early years, and doing exclusively estate planning for the last decade or so); part-time middle and high school math teacher (2003-2008); part-time adjunct faculty for the North Orange County Community College District (2005-current), working with the elderly and infirm, where I basically teach a memory-stimulating class interspersed with live entertainment from me, as I sing songs mostly from the first half of the 20th century. I am also a poet and… an incorrigible punster.
    I was introduced to Esperanto in the 10th grade while taking French, as described above, and the basic idea resonated well with my personality and world view. However, I couldn't interest any of my high-school or university friends in learning it with me, so I was pretty much a dilettante through the next five years. I graduated USC in January 1970 and decided I would get a good grammar book and dictionary and try to master the language on my own. I now had my own car and could get around town, and I started attending meetings and other functions of EKLA. In 1971, I printed up a flyer for the 2nd Earth Day celebration, when 10,000 people were expected to March down Wilshire Avenue from La Brea to MacArthur Park, touting Esperanto as a great ecological contribution to the environment because of all the trees it would save from unnecessary translations between languages. ...That flyer also had a tear-off section on the back for anybody interested in a class. We got about 10 responses (out of 1,000 flyers handed out), and two of my friends and mentors convinced me to teach the class (with their help). That is when I feel I became truly fluent.
    In 1965, while still a dilettante, I actually composed my first song in Esperanto, and since the 1970s, I composed (music and lyrics) several more, and I have performed my songs many times over the years at various Esperanto meetings and gatherings. In the 1970s and 1980s, I was nicknamed "La Esperanto-Trubaduro" (The Esperanto Troubadour) by Cathy Schultze, a prominent Esperantist who, with her husband Bill, headed the Esperanto Information Center then in Hillsboro, CA. One of my current planned projects is to set up a youtube channel for my "kantaro" (song collection), insofar as there is no permanent or physical evidence of any of my performances, since I never made any actual records (although a few songs were recorded on audiotape over the years, but it is unknown if any are still viable).

    Scope and Contents

    The J. Tilman Williams, Oazo de Esperanto, and Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Collection (1900-February 2018, bulk 1927-1960) documents the Esperanto language, as well as localized and personalized views of members within the community living in Los Angeles and throughout the world. It consists of 25.75 linear feet of letters, photographs, posters, publications, yearbooks, instructional material, directories, realia, ephemera, and other material related to the constructed language, Esperanto and the Esperanto speaking community. The collection is comprised of mostly material donated to the Esperanto Club of Los Angeles, later the Esperanto Association of Los Angeles, and includes material from Joseph Scherer, William West Glenny, Charles Chomette, Brian Neil Burg, and other Esperantists who contributed to the Esperanto movement in the United States. A large portion of the personal material are letters that discuss the Esperanto movement, answer Esperanto related questions, and talk about the family and everyday life of members of the community. Charles Chomette had regular pen-pals from Japan, Poland, and China who would send letters and photographs of their family and Esperanto clubs.
    The personal material also includes ephemera from Joseph Scherer. Scherer was a world traveler, lecturer, and worked in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s on movies that used Esperanto. Within the collection, there are large posters from his world lectures, photographs from his travels, and documents and letters discussing his lectures. There are also photographs and documents from different Hollywood films he worked on such as, Idiot's Delight and Road to Signapore.
    Besides the personal material, the collection includes periodicals, publications, and instructional material. The periodicals and publications are dedicated to the Esperanto community throughout the United States, China, Korea, and other countries. The publications include American Esperantists, Esperanto Oficiala Organo de Universala Esperanto, Usona Esperantisto, La Revuo Internacia Monata Literatura Gazeto, Vocoj el Oriento , and Heroldo de Esperanto. The instructional material includes dictionaries, grammar books, and instructional books and documents for adults and children on how to speak Esperanto. This material is in a variety of different languages, including French, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, and English so that Esperanto could be learned regardless of what the user's native language.
    Topics related to this collection include the Esperanto community, the Esperanto community in Los Angeles, studies and teaching, Esperantists, and Esperanto organizations.

    Processing Information

    The collection was initally processed by Stella Castillo in 2018. It was completed in 2019 by Jennifer Hill.

    Custodial History

    The J. Tilman Williams, Oazo de Esperanto, and Esperanto Club of Los Angeles Collection was donated on behalf of J. Tilman Williams and Oazo de Esperanto in 2018 by Brian Neil Burg, a former member of the Esperanto Club of Los Angeles. The material from the collection is comprised of smaller collections initially donated to the Esperanto Club of Los Angeles from members and includes some material from Brian Neil Burg. Some of the original collection came into Brian's possession following the death of fellow member William West Glenny in 1989. Since 1989, Brian continued to house the material until it was donated in 2018.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Esperanto letters