Two Great Local Archival Finds: Mox Nix, and Convo with Original West Setter

3 09 2010

This week, I had the most fortunate opportunity to interact with two men in Philadelphia. Each provided great details about Philadelphia’s early Black LGBT community.

Community members preparing to leave for Mox Nix's annual Halloween Party

Gary Q. Hines, host of The Catacombs online radio show, first told me about the first collector and his collection of five photo albums depicting notable Philadelphia socialites and images from the Mox Nix organization. Mox Nix provided a social outlet geared towards Black men and women of Philadelphia’s LGBT community. There are a lot of people in the photographs who we were unable to identify (sounds like its time to organize an “Archive Viewing Social”).

He tells me that when he was growing up, the original owner of the albums would tell him stories and experiences about the community. After the owner of the albums died, this collector went to his home to collect these important relics from the trash. Without judgment, the family of the owner possibly did not understand the significance.

This collector also has early photographs and books that first depicted black gay-oriented porn in 1970s. He even has an almost complete collection of Black Inches, and other magazines geared to Black LGBT communities throughout the US: Kick, Clique, SBC, as well as others). I actually held a Sierra Domino photo of the 1970s, as well as correspondences from the photographer and this collector. He also collects baseball cards.

The second great find of the week included a telephone conversation with one of two living members of The West Set. While going through the personal collections of Tyrone Smith, I noticed that one of the West Set members served on the Board of Directors of an early HIV/AIDS service organization in Philadelphia. Smith confirmed that this member was still living, and within two hours arranged a phone call. Gerald J. Lewis confirmed important information about the composition of the group, and the origins of the group’s name. He told me that he first got involved at Lincoln University, and that that is where the connections were first made.

In a few weeks, I will post an interview with Lewis, as he’s agreed to sit down and talk and share other items that he has featuring members of the West Set. I hope to also share more of the collection from the first collector. I AM EXCITED.

If you haven’t, please check out the online exhibit of The West Set posted on this blog; and if you’ve viewed if previously, new information and photos have been added.

I believe that history is a connection/collection of stories from those in a network. The more I do this work, I am thrilled to see networks of stories crossing and intersecting. In this way, we are all connected. I thank Gary Q. Hines and Tyrone Smith for adding these important contributions to our history.

The Archivists Society encourages your participation and sharing.

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Support the Archivists Society, ‘Needs’ List

3 09 2010

Over the past few weeks, several people have asked how they could support the work and vision of the Archivists Society.  I have developed a list of items/resources that would really provide help in preserving and exhibiting the collections.

The Archivists Society could really use:

  • Document Boxes (assorted sizes)
  • Archival File Folders (letter size)
  • Melinex Sleeves (assorted sizes)
  • Sheets of Archival Paper
  • High Capacity Photo Boxes
  • Record Storage Cartons
  • Drop-Front Boxes (assorted sizes)
  • All-Stabilio Pencils
  • Pairs Cotton Gloves
  • Label Holders with Inserts
  • Scanner
  • Printer

In order to be effective in preserving, products should be acid-free and meet other specifications to ensure the longevity of the materials. Visit Family Archives for more information on their products and get an idea of the types of materials and resources that are most helpful.

Please consider adding to the Archivists Society. Every little bit helps. Contact Kevin Trimell Jones for additional information and to make a contribution.





FTA: Slideshow of Photographs from the Archivists Society’s Collection

25 08 2010




FTA: Can you identify this photograph?

24 08 2010

Information: Tiny Cartier





FTA: Can you identify this photograph?

24 08 2010

Information: Astricks Awards. Best couple, April 1979.





Bawabu: Symbol of the Same Gender Loving Movement

22 08 2010

The mid-1990s marked the height of the Same Gender Loving Movement, a time when men and women of African decent adopted this identifier as an alternative to “gay.” The movement is attributed to the work of Cleo Manago, an advocate for self-identification, HIV prevention and health promotion, and community building. SBC (a black gay publication by noted author Stanley Bennett Clay, currently out of print), shared a photograph of the Bawabu, the “official” symbol of the Same Gender Loving movement.

If I recall, there was a contest for entries. The article showcased the designer, as well as information about the symbol. [I would love to get a copy of the original magazine, or the entire collection. I lost the original nearly 12 years ago while a student at the University of Michigan. Fortunately, I scanned the image to hang on my dorm room wall, and had it ever since.]

Please add any missing details to this important history.





Online Exhibit – History of The West Set: The Gentlemen’s Social Club of West Philadelphia (founded 1957)

21 08 2010

The Black LGBT Archivists Society has installed its first online exhibition, The West Set: The Gentlemen’s Social Club of West Philadelphia. The West Set was founded in 1957 as a social club for men. The name reflects the residence of many of the clubs’ member–West Philadelphia. As a fraternal club, they traveled the world, held social gatherings and contributed to social causes. Each year, they held the Miss West Set Competition. PHILADANCO Founder Joan Myers Brown held the title from 1972 to 1973. The Archivists Society is honored to present this history.

Online Exhibit: The West Set.