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Bromfield Street Educational Foundation records

 Collection
Identifier: M064

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the activities of the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation, a voice for the progressive gay community, both in Boston and nationally, between 1973 and 1999. The collection documents not only the publication of the Gay Community News, but also the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation's involvement in assisting gay and lesbian prisoners; sponsoring OutWrite, an annual conference for gay and lesbian writers; organizing the Queer Progressive Organizing School; and arranging Off-the-Page, a series of readings by gay and lesbian authors. Due to an office fire in 1982, substantial documentation pre-dating 1982 is lacking. Records include most issues of the Gay Community News, correspondence, subject files, administrative files, audio cassette tapes, and photographs.

Dates

  • 1963-2003 (bulk 1985-1993)

Creator

Conditions Governing Access:

Personnel records (box 3, folder 25; and box 5, folders 38 and 44) are restricted for 75 years from their date of creation.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.

Historical Note

Between 1973 and 1999, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation of Boston was one of the oldest and most progressive voices in the gay community. The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation advocated for gay rights and promoted awareness of gay lifestyles, most significantly through the publication of the Gay Community News. The Gay Community News was widely known as the most liberal newspaper in the gay community and often dealt with controversial issues not covered by other publications. The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation also sponsored other projects, including the Prisoner Project, a means to assist gays and lesbians in prison; OutWrite, an annual conference of gay and lesbian writers; the Queer Progressive Organizing School, an attempt to better organize the progressive gay community; and Off-the-Page, a series of readings by gay and lesbian writers.

The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation was originally established as the Gay Community News in 1973. From the Charles Street Meeting House, the first edition of Gay Community News was published on June 17, 1973. The paper was founded by a group of eight Boston gays and lesbians who were looking for a better way to communicate with the local gay community. In less than a year, Gay Community News developed from a two-page mimeograph to an eight-page, tabloid-style newsprint, and moved its office to 22 Bromfield Street. On March 8, 1975, two major changes were made to the paper. First, the newspaper was printed in color. Second, the distribution of Gay Community News expanded, and it became a regional voice for the gay community in the Northeast. In the summer of 1978, the membership of Gay Community News voted to become a national newspaper in both its focus and distribution.

The Prisoner Project began in 1975, as a result of the efforts of staff member Mike Riegle, who responded to letters sent by prisoners to Gay Community News and gave them free subscriptions. The project soon expanded, with the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation F sending prisoners books, providing legal reference, and receiving and publishing letters and writings about homophobia, sexism, and racism in prisons. In 1977, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation and the National Gay Task Force successfully sued the federal prison system and won the right for prisoners to receive gay publications. Despite this verdict in 1980, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation spent subsequent years arguing on behalf of prisoners who were denied copies of the Gay Community News and other gay and lesbian publications. Beginning in 1981, a regular prisoners column was published in the Gay Community News.

In 1979, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation began a five-year battle to gain non-profit status from the IRS. The paper believed that it would not receive non-profit status until it had removed the word 'gay' from its business title. The Foundation changed its business name from the Gay Community News to the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation on July 1, 1982. On March 2, 1984, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation received non-profit status. The Foundation was organized with three decision-making bodies: the board of directors, the paid staff, and the membership, which consisted of the board, staff, and volunteers. On July 7, 1982, the office at 22 Bromfield Street was gutted by a fire. The fire was eventually linked to a string of arsons. On August 11, 1982, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation moved its operations to the fifth floor of 167 Tremont Street, after almost nine years at Bromfield Street. In 1983, the paper acquired its own typesetting machine and began printing the paper in-house. On June 17, 1983, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation celebrated its tenth birthday. The date was preceded by a year filled with events and benefits leading up to the birthday celebration.

By 1991, the Gay Community News was the oldest, continuously published, national gay newspaper. The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation was then operating with a paid staff of ten and publishing the paper in a 20-page format. Despite its popularity, the Gay Community News continuously experienced financial difficulties. On July 3, 1992, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation ceased publication to restructure the organization. As part of the reorganization, the position of foundation director was established, and each of the Foundation's projects was assigned separate personnel with distinct responsibilities. The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation also formulated a new goal to publish the Gay Community News bimonthly as a 28 to 32-page tabloid. In April 1993, a pilot of the new edition was distributed at the Gay Pride March on Washington.

In the 1990s, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation became involved in OutWrite, an annual conference that offered lectures and workshops for gay and lesbian writers and non-writers. It promoted the writings of gays and lesbians, and encouraged other gays and lesbians to write. The first two conferences in 1990 and 1991 were sponsored by OUT/LOOK magazine in San Francisco. In 1992, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation became a co-sponsor with OUT/LOOK. After OUT/LOOK went out of business, the Foundation became the sole sponsor and held the 1993 OutWrite in Boston. When they moved the conference from fall to spring, the fifth annual OutWrite did not take place until 1995. In 1997, OutWrite was cancelled when the scheduled hotel backed out of its agreement. To make up for the cancellation, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation held OutWrite Lite '97, a one-day, regional conference in the fall. OutWrite resumed in 1998 and 1999.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation sponsored Off-the-Page, a semi-monthly reading and writing series. They invited gay and lesbian writers to Boston to give readings of their works at local restaurants. The readings were free and open to the public. Believing that the queer movement had become too conservative, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation organized the Queer Progressive Organizing School in order to create a more organized, progressive queer voice. The school took place on July 4-6, 1997 at the Craigville Conference Center in Craigville, Massachusetts. It involved 30-35 grassroots activists from the greater Boston area.

In its last decade, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation moved repeatedly. In 1987, the group moved from their Tremont Street location to Berkeley Street. Five years later on June 30, 1992, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation moved again to 25 West Street. For financial reasons on September 1, 1995, they moved into the Boston Living Center at 29 Stanhope Street. In 1999, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation ceased operations.

Chronology

  • 6/17/1973 The first edition of the Gay Community News published on a two-page mimeograph sheet.
  • 7/8/1973 Gay Community News switches to a four-page, printed format.
  • 10/20/1973 Gay Community News becomes eight pages.
  • 3/30/1974 Gay Community News moves office to 22 Bromfield Street.
  • 1-1974 Gay Community News switches to newsprint and maintains a paid staff.
  • 1975 Mike Riegle begins the Prisoner Project.
  • 3/8/1975 Gay Community News adds color and expands commercial distribution.
  • Summer 1978 Membership votes to become a national power.
  • 7/10/1979 Official business title becomes the National Gay News.
  • 4/20/1982 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation is organized under the authority of Massachusetts as a non-profit corporation.
  • 7/1/1982 Gay Community News changes its official business name to the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation for federal tax purposes.
  • 7/71982 Gay Community News offices at Bromfield Street are destroyed by fire.
  • 8/11/1982 Offices are moved to the fifth floor of 167 Tremont Street.
  • 6/17/1983 The paper celebrates its tenth birthday.
  • 3/2/1984 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation receives tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization from the IRS.
  • 11/17/1986 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts dissolves the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation's charter for failing to file annual reports.
  • 10/21/1986 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts revives Bromfield Street Educational Foundation's charter.
  • 1991 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation expands to a 20-page format with a staff of ten paid employees.
  • 6/30/1992 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation moves its offices to 25 West Street.
  • 7/3/1992 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation temporarily suspends publication of Gay Community News to restructure its administration, with the goal of publishing a bimonthly paper.
  • Fall 1992 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation co-sponsors the OutWrite Conference in San Francisco with Out/Look magazine.
  • 4/1993 Gay Community news publishes a pilot issue in its new format for the Gay Pride March on Washington.
  • Fall 1993 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation becomes the sole sponsor of the OutWrite Conference and moves it to Boston.
  • 9/1/1995 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation moves into the Boston Living Center at 29 Stanhope Street.
  • 7/1997 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation sponsors the Queer Progressive Organizing School.
  • 1999 Last issue of Gay Community News is published.
  • Spring 1999 Bromfield Street Educational Foundation sponsors the last OutWrite Conference.
6/17/1973
The first edition of the Gay Community News published on a two-page mimeograph sheet.
7/8/1973
Gay Community News switches to a four-page, printed format.
10/20/1973
Gay Community News becomes eight pages.
3/30/1974
Gay Community News moves office to 22 Bromfield Street.
1-1974
Gay Community News switches to newsprint and maintains a paid staff.
1975
Mike Riegle begins the Prisoner Project.
3/8/1975
Gay Community News adds color and expands commercial distribution.
Summer 1978
Membership votes to become a national power.
7/10/1979
Official business title becomes the National Gay News.
4/20/1982
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation is organized under the authority of Massachusetts as a non-profit corporation.
7/1/1982
Gay Community News changes its official business name to the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation for federal tax purposes.
7/71982
Gay Community News offices at Bromfield Street are destroyed by fire.
8/11/1982
Offices are moved to the fifth floor of 167 Tremont Street.
6/17/1983
The paper celebrates its tenth birthday.
3/2/1984
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation receives tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization from the IRS.
11/17/1986
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts dissolves the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation's charter for failing to file annual reports.
10/21/1986
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts revives Bromfield Street Educational Foundation's charter.
1991
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation expands to a 20-page format with a staff of ten paid employees.
6/30/1992
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation moves its offices to 25 West Street.
7/3/1992
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation temporarily suspends publication of Gay Community News to restructure its administration, with the goal of publishing a bimonthly paper.
Fall 1992
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation co-sponsors the OutWrite Conference in San Francisco with Out/Look magazine.
4/1993
Gay Community news publishes a pilot issue in its new format for the Gay Pride March on Washington.
Fall 1993
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation becomes the sole sponsor of the OutWrite Conference and moves it to Boston.
9/1/1995
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation moves into the Boston Living Center at 29 Stanhope Street.
7/1997
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation sponsors the Queer Progressive Organizing School.
1999
Last issue of Gay Community News is published.
Spring 1999
Bromfield Street Educational Foundation sponsors the last OutWrite Conference.

Extent

23.8 cubic feet (44 containers, 3 flat file folders)

Overview

The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation was originally established as the Gay Community News in 1973. Until the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation ceased operation in 1999 due to financial difficulties, the Gay Community News was one of the oldest, most progressive, national newspapers in the gay community. Eight Boston gays and lesbians started the newspaper in 1973 to create a community voice for gays and lesbians in the Boston area. In 1978, the Gay Community News became national in scope and distribution. The Bromfield Street Educational Foundation also sponsored other projects, including the Prisoners Project, an effort between 1975 and 1999 to support gays and lesbians in prison; OutWrite, an annual conference between 1990 and 1999 for gay and lesbian writers; Off-the-Page, a monthly reading series between 1993 and 1995 in Boston of gay and lesbian authors; and the Queer Progressive Organizing School, a forum in 1997 to organize progressive gay activists.

Overview

The collection documents the activities of the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation, a voice for the progressive gay community, both in Boston and nationally, between 1973 and 1999. The collection documents the publication of the Gay Community News, as well as the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation's involvement in assisting gay and lesbian prisoners; sponsoring OutWrite, an annual conference for gay and lesbian writers; organizing Off-the-Page, a monthly reading series; and arranging the Queer Progressive Organizing School, a forum to organize the progressive voice in the gay community. Due to an office fire in 1982, substantial documentation pre-dating 1982 is lacking. Records include most issues of the Gay Community News, correspondence, subject files, administrative files, audio cassette tapes, and photographs.

System of Arrangement:

The collection is organized into five series: Series 1. Administrative Files, Series 2. Gay Community News, Series 3. OutWrite, Series 4. Prisoner Project, and Series 5. Photographs.

Physical Location

65/2-4, FF4/D1
Title
Finding aid for the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Stein Helmrich
Date
October 2001; updated by Migyeong Geum, November 2012.
Language of description
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
92 Snell Library
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US