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
Date modified:
Marcie Farwell, November 2016

© 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

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.
Audiocassettes may not be played. All of the tapes have been digitized, for access to audio, please contact RMC staff.
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

Date
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
Audio cassettes cannot be played.
All of the tapes in this collection have been digitized, for access please contact RMC staff.
1992-06-24
Mable
tr7360a - tr7362a
1992-08-28
Linda
tr7363a, tr7364a
1992-06-29
Anita
tr7365a - tr7368a
1992-06-25
Judy
tr7369a - tr7372a
1992-06-30
Marie
tr7373a - tr7376a
1992-08-22
B. Koz
tr7377a - tr7379a
1992-06-23
Muriel
tr7380a - tr7382a
1992-02-07
C.B. (Claire)
tr7383a, tr7384a
1992-06-24
Renee
tr7385a - tr7387a
1992-08-15
Sher
tr7388a - tr7390a
Tape tr7390a is blank.
1992-08-01
Larry
tr7391a - tr7393a
1992-06-08
Carol Kironac
tr7394a - tr7396a
1992-08-03
Beth Brant
tr7397a - tr7400a
1992-08-16
Jay
tr7401a - tr7402a
1992-08-27
Sue
tr7403a - tr7404a
Undated
Gay Whiteside
tr7405a - tr7407a
1992-08-05
Rebecca
tr7408a - tr7410a
1992-06-14
Sharon
tr7411a - tr7414a
1992-07-05
Martha
tr7415a - tr7417a
1991-11-15
Pat Pardee
tr7418a
1992-06-27
Melloniece
tr7419a - tr7420a
1992-06-25
Elvira
tr7421a - tr7425a
1992-02-06
Chuck Alexander
tr7426a
1992-01-16
Ruth Ellis
tr7917a
1992-01-24
Billie Hill
tr7918a - tr7920a
1992-02-08
Beverly Dale
tr7921a
1992-02-06
Judith Hill
tr7922a - tr7923a
1992-02-05
Margaret Butler
tr7924a
Undated
Carol Hoke
tr7925a - tr7926a
Tape tr7926a is blank.
1982-01-12
Sonya Show: Donna and Suzie
tr7927a
1992-06-23
Brandy
tr7928a - tr7931a
1992-06-17
Toni
tr7932a - tr7934a
Undated
Billie Jo and Jessica
tr7935a - tr7936a
Undated
Thelma, Diane, JP
tr7937a - tr7943a
Undated
Party at JB's
tr7944a - tr7945a
Note on case:"this tape is a conversation between [Roey], JB, Caerdwyn, Mari, and a woman who prefers to remain anonymous (trades woman)."
1992-06-05
Veronica Crump
tr7946a - tr7949a
1992-06-03
Karla Baldwin
tr7950a - tr7952a
1992-02-04
Mary Ellen S.
tr7953a
1992-06-12
Marilyn
tr7954a - tr7958a
Undated
Margaret Lorick
tr7959a - tr7961a
1992-08-26
Alice
tr7961a - tr7963a
1992-08-26
Margaret and Alice
tr7963a - tr7965a
1992-06-16
Evelyn (Lynne)
tr7966a - tr7972a
1992-08-26
Sarah
tr7973a - tr7975a
1992-06-19
Sylvia
tr7976a
1992-08-21
Ruth
tr7977a - tr7979a
1992-08-10
JB and friends
tr7980a - tr7982a
1992-08-11
Katherine
tr7983a - tr7986a
Tape tr7986a is blank.