Sheldon Herman Ramsdell Papers,1955-1996.

Collection Number: 7714

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library


Sheldon Herman Ramsdell papers, 1955-1996.
Collection Number:
Ramsdell, Sheldon 1935-1996.
1.4 cubic ft.
Forms of Material:
Correspondence, printed material, photographs, scrapbook.
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
Files from Ramsdell's work with Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Plus, correspondence mainly with his parents; photographs from his career.
Collection material in English


Photojournalist Sheldon (Shelly) Ramsdell, born on August 31, 1935 in Maine, served in the Navy, flying photograph missions over Indochina ca. 1955-58. He was honorably discharged in 1958. In 1967, he was one of the founders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, one of the most influential anti-war groups of the era. In addition to photographing celebrities, Ramsdell served as chief press aide for Senator Eugene J. McCarthy's 1968 presidential bid, as well as for New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug. His photographs were published in periodicals including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Esquire, and Time. He was also an activist in the Democratic Party on labor union issues. Since the early 1980s, Ramsdell was an activist on behalf of people with AIDS, gay men and lesbians, and veterans. He died March 25, 1996 in San Francisco after a long battle with AIDS.


Files from Ramsdell's work with Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Also, correspondence mainly with his parents; photographs from his career, including photos of Bette Midler and a photo of Herbert Hoover's headstone decorated with a pink triangle; a scrapbook of clippings, press releases, and press badges from his time on the McCarthy campaign, including flyers stating McCarthy's support for civil rights and clippings about the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Framed photographs of Norman Mailer (when he was running for mayor of New York City in 1969), Helena Rubenstein, and Joel Grey in makeup for the stage production of Cabaret.

Ramsdell, Sheldon,1935-1996.
McCarthy, Eugene J., 1916-2005.
Midler, Bette.
Mailer, Norman -- Pictorial works.
Rubenstein, Helena -- Pictorial works.
Grey, Joel, 1932- -- Pictorial works.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Gays in military service.
Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975--Protest movements.

Form and Genre Terms:


Cite As:
Sheldon Herman Ramsdell papers, #7714. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.


The "Stacewicz, Richard VVAW interviews, 1992-1995" at the Wisconsin Historical Society contain a tape-recorded interview with Sheldon conducted by Richard Stacewicz in preparation for his book, "Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War" (1997). State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Archives Division, 816 State Street, Madison, Wis. 53706.
Related collection: Ramsdell, Sheldon Papers, (#1996-28). Files of his AIDS activism during his 12 years living in San Francisco are at the GLBT Historical Society, 657 Mission Street #300, San Francisco, CA 94105 Phone: 415.777.5455. Email:


Collecting Program: Human Sexuality Collection.

Series I. Personal Materials
Box 1
Series II. Military Service and Anti-War Work
Box 1
Series III. McCarthy Materials
Boxes 1-2
Series IV. AIDS Work
Box 1
Series V. Photographs
Boxes 1-4


Box 1 Folder 1
Personal correspondence, 1968
Box 1 Folder 2
Correspondence with FBI, including copy of FBI file on Ramsdell, 1989
Box 1 Folder 3
Misc. correspondence, 1958-1996
Box 1 Folder 4
Misc. correspondence, 1973-1996
Box 1 Folder 5
Misc. personal correspondence, 1992
Box 1 Folder 6
Misc. personal materials, including news clippings, correspondence, etc.
Box 1 Folder 7
Sheldon Ramsdell obituaries, 1996
Box 1 Folder 8
Correspondence regarding Ramsdell's death, 1996
Box 1 Folder 9
Trolley Tour Guides
Box 1 Folder 10
Box 1 Folder 11
What Does a Photographer Do?, by T.E. Mergendahl Jr. & Sheldon Ramsdell, 1965
Box 1 Folder 12
Military materials from Bainbridge, MD, including ID card and "Welcome Aboard" packet
Box 1 Folder 13
Navy publications, including "Rights and Benefits of Navymen and their Dependents", "Going Back to Civilian Life", etc.
Box 1 Folder 14
2 issues of the US Navy's Desert News, sent by Ramsdell to his parents, 1956
Box 1 Folder 15
Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) info packet
Box 1 Folder 16
VVAW publications, newsletters, flyers, etc.
Box 1 Folder 17
VVAW 25th Anniversary materials
Box 1 Folder 18
Sheldon Ramsdell letter to the editor re: Nixon and the War
Box 1 Folder 19
Correspondence from McCarthy campaing
Box 2
McCarthy scrapbook
Box 1 Folder 20
Correspondence and misc. materials regarding San Francisco CAN (Community Aids Network) and Prop 64, 1986
Box 1 Folder 21
Photograph list labels
Box 1 Folder 22
Hoover gravesite photo
Box 1 Folder 23
Hoover gravesite photos
Box 1 Folder 24
Misc. photos
Box 1 Folder 25
Misc. photos and negatives
Box 1 Folder 26
Les Brown
Box 1 Folder 27
Box 1 Folder 28
Box 1 Folder 29
Box 1 Folder 30
Misc. scenic
Box 1 Folder 31
Misc. Navy photos/negatives
Box 1 Folder 32
Bette Midler
Box 1 Folder 33
AIDS Memorial photos from Dio de los Muertos (?)
Box 1 Folder 34
Box 1 Folder 35
Singing/dancing girls
Box 1 Folder 36
Car crash
Box 1 Folder 37
Poolside speaker
Box 1 Folder 38
Poolside speakers
Box 1 Folder 39
Girls walking around pool
Box 1 Folder 40
Swimsuit girls
Box 1 Folder 41
Advertisement photos (?)
Box 2
"Highest Quality Metals" advertisement photo, by Ramsdell
Box 2
Abbie Hoffman photo by Ramsdell, New York City
Box 3 Folder 1
Box 3 Folder 2
Belfast City; Dock, Maine
August 1983
Box 3 Folder 3
Sheldon in San Francisco and Mexico
ca. 1992
Box 3 Folder 4
March with sign “Colin Powell is Afraid of Me!” and Harvey Milk memorial plaque design.
Box 3 Folder 5
San Francisco and DC, military contingent at a march, Vietnam memorial, ACT UP poster “Honoring AIDS activists murdered by Reagan-Bush 1980-92”
Box 3 Folder 6
Graves of Audre Lorde and Glyde Anderson Tolson
Box 3 Folder 7
Leonard Matlovich grave, Congressional Cemetery, Washington DC
Box 3 Folder 8
Graves including Hoover
Box 3 Folder 9
Benefit? Restaurant kitchen.
Box 3 Folder 10
Babies, Sheldon
Box 3 Folder 11
Sheldon’s parents?, Slides of Sheldon’s parents?, Sheldon’s Cannabis Buyers’ Club card, San Francisco
Box 4
Framed photographs by Ramsdell of Mme. Helena Rubinstein in her home 625 Park Ave., NYC; Author, Norman Mailor, NYC 1969, “Running for Mayor of NYC”; Joel Grey Cabaret.