Guide to the Rochella Thorpe Oral History Project Files,
1992-1995

Collection Number: 7607

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library

Contact Information:
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-3530
Fax: (607) 255-9524
rareref@cornell.edu
http://rmc.library.cornell.edu
Compiled by:
Sarah Keen
Date completed:
November 2008
EAD encoding:
Andrea Hektor
Peter Martinez, June 2003
Sarah Keen, November 2008

© 2003 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
Rochella Thorpe oral history project files, 1992-1995.
Collection Number:
7607
Creator:
Rochella Thorpe
Quantity:
.4 cubic ft.; 137 tape recordings, plus one box.
Forms of Material:
Audiotapes and transcripts.
Repository:
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
Tape recordings and transcripts of interviews with lesbians, mostly African-American and white, who lived in Detroit in the post-World War II period, 1947-1975.
Language:
Collection material in English


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

As a doctoral student in the History Department of Binghamton University, Rochella (Roey) Thorpe researched lesbian life in Detroit, 1947-1975. She looked at the quite separate environments of African-American and white lesbians created in the Post War era. Within racial groups, lesbians mostly associated with women of similar economic backgrounds. Rather than finding one homogenous lesbian community, Thorpe found many different lesbian communities, and looked at the ways these communities and their survival strategies changed over time.
Her study is based in Detroit, a city that saw great urban growth and racial tension prior to and during World War II. Women's work in Detroit's wartime factories represented significant changes for both white and African-American women. After World War II, the fear of spreading communism in the automobile unions made Detroit the site of the 1951 House UnAmerican Activities Committee investigations. Detroit was a Midwest center for the civil rights, anti-war, and feminist movements of the 1960s and the emergence of the gay liberation movement in the 1970s. In 1970, Detroit women formed a chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, and the radical newspaper THE DETROIT GAY LIBERATOR began publishing.
Thorpe's study includes substantial interviews with lesbians who lived in Detroit over this time period. Thorpe was the first openly lesbian candidate to be elected to the City of Ithaca (N.Y.) Common Council. The 5th Ward elected her as Alderwoman for a term from 1994 through 1997.

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

Tape recordings of interviews with fifty lesbians, mostly African-American and white, who lived in Detroit in the post-World War II period, 1947-1975. Transcripts are available for twenty-three interviews.

SUBJECTS

Names:
Thorpe, Rochella.

Subjects:
Lesbians--Michigan--Detroit--Social life and customs.
African American Lesbians--Michigan--Detroit--Social life and customs.

Form and Genre Terms:
Interviews


INFORMATION FOR USERS

Access Restrictions:
Restrictions may apply to various transcripts and audiotapes.
Restrictions on Use:
Box 2 contains copies of the transcripts in box 1. Any patron copies should be made from the items in box 2.
Cite As:
Rochella Thorpe oral history project files, #7607. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

RELATED MATERIALS

Collecting Program: Human Sexuality Collection.

CONTAINER LIST

Description
Container
Transcripts for tapes 7360a-7426a
Box 1 Folder 1-23
Any patron copies should be made from the items in box 2.
Copies of transcripts in box 1
Box 2 Folder 1-23
Any patron copies should be made from the items in this box.
Audiotapes
Mable
tr7360a - tr7362a
Linda
tr7363a, tr7364a
Anita
tr7365a - tr7368a
Judy
tr7369a - tr7372a
Marie
tr7373a - tr7376a
B.
tr7377a - tr7379a
Muriel
tr7380a - tr7382a
C.B.
tr7383a, tr7384a
Renee
tr7385a - tr7387a
Sher
tr7388a - tr7390a
Larry
tr7391a - tr7393a
Carole
tr7394a - tr7396a
Beth
tr7397a - tr7400a
Jay
tr7401a, tr7402a
Sue
tr7403a, tr7404a
Gay
tr7405a - tr7407a
Rebecca
tr7408a - tr7410a
Sharon
tr7411a - tr7414a
Martha
tr7415a - tr7417a
Pat
tr7418a
Melloniece
tr7419a, tr7420a
Elvira
tr7421a - tr7425a
Chuck
tr7426a
Interviews with 27 additional people
tr7917a-7986a