Summer Centered: Sophie Frank ’19 Discovers Untold LGBTQ Stories in ONE Archives
The comparative literature major is in Los Angeles interning at the largest archive of gay and lesbian materials in the world.
For Sophie Frank ’19, a comparative literature major, a French minor, and a concentration in Africana studies means having the tools to tell the stories that don’t always make it into the limelight. This summer, at her internship at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, funded by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities (HCAH), the Los Angeles local is hoping to learn and share the stories of the LGBTQ community in her hometown.
While now a part of the University of Southern California Libraries, ONE Archives was established in 2000 as the result of a merger between Jim Kepner’s International Gay and Lesbian Archives and ONE Magazine, the first widely distributed gay publication in the U.S. The archives are the largest collection of gay and lesbian materials in the world and exists to preserve and make available historical LGBTQ materials.
Frank’s work includes pulling, researching, and organizing items from collections to create “finding aids” for other researchers. Recently, this has meant chronologically sorting the photos of Pat Rocco, a prominent photo editor for gay newspapers in Southern California from the '70s to the '90s; uploading articles on the visual aspects of gay Portland; and researching posters artists whose work is part of ONE archives' collection.
Her favorite collection tells the story of Harriet Perl, a Jewish English teacher, a feminist activist, and a member of the Beth Chayim Chadashim synagogue, “the first LGBT house of worship in any religion to be accepted by its corresponding mainstream religious movement.” After opening boxes of Perl’s letters, notes, and photos, and sorting, labeling, and placing them in sleeves, Frank created an online database listing exactly what she found.
“It might be hard to see a link between this internship and my comp lit major,” she said. “But once I started working, I was surprised and excited to see how there is a deeper connection between the two: [both are about] how important it is to preserve and tell stories that fall outside of a straight-edged canon.”
Though ONE Archives doesn’t offer a formal internship program, it does host undergraduate and graduate students and Frank received support from the HCAH for her summer work. The comp lit major wanted to find out “how what I’ve learned in my [gender and sexuality] courses is grounded in primary sources,” and her experience in archive conservation through her work in Magill Library proved to be helpful preparation.
She has been living at home for the summer before she leaves to study abroad in France for her entire junior year.
“I’ve watched lots of movies with my 13-year-old sister, played piano with my 16-year-old brother, and reminisced over dinner with my grandparents and helped them with all their technology challenges,” she says of life outside the office.
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.