Scope and Contents
Title: Harvey Milk Letters to Joe Campbell,
Date (inclusive): 1961-
Collection Identifier: GLC 20
James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
This collection contains 59 letters and cards from Harvey Milk to Joe Campbell; most were written after their romantic relationship
The collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in
The collection is open for research.
The library holds copyright for letters written by Harvey Milk. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public
Library as the owner of the physical items.
[Identification of item], Harvey Milk Letters to Joe Campbell (GLC 20), Gay and Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.
The collection was donated to the San Francisco Public Library in two accessions. Joe Campbell donated 29 letters in 1993;
Callie Angell, of the Andy Warhol Film Project, donated an additional 32 letters and transcripts in 2006.
Researchers are encouraged to see also the Harvey Milk Letters to Susan Davis Alch (GLC 19), the Harvey Milk Archives--Scott
Smith Collection (GLC 35) and the Randy Shilts Papers--The Mayor of Castro Street series (GLC 43), Gay & Lesbian Center, San
Francisco Public Library.
Harvey Milk, a San Francisco politician and gay rights activist, was born in Woodmere, New York on May 22, 1930. Joe Campbell
was born on November 4, 1936. Milk and Campbell met at Riis Park Beach, Queens, New York in July 1956 and their relationship
lasted into 1962. Much later Milk later moved to San Francisco, entered politics, and was assassinated along with Mayor George
Moscone in 1978.
In the 1960s Campbell was a member of the Andy Warhol crowd and was dubbed the "Sugar Plum Fairy" by Dorothy Dean, a friend
from that set. Campbell appeared in the Warhol film
My Hustler (1965) as the character Sugar Plum Fairy, and Lou Reed's
Walk on the Wild Side (1972) contains a reference to Campbell by that moniker as well.
Later Joe Campbell had a significant relationship with Oliver "Bill" Sipple, a former Marine. Sipple came into the public
eye in 1975 for thwarting an assassination attempt on the life of Gerald Ford. Joe Campbell died on October 2, 2005.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains 59 letters and cards from Milk to Joe Campbell; most were written after their relationship ended
and contain a "-san" suffix to both of their names. In many of the earlier letters, Milk tells how much he still cares for
Campbell and how hurt Milk is that Campbell does not return his feelings. The letters from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Miami
detail Milk's unsuccessful attempts to find work. The later letters contain advice for Campbell and his lover Oliver "Bill"
Sipple, Milk's day-to-day activities with Jack Galen McKinley, reviews of opera and other musical events, and remarks on police
harassment of gays and gay bars. About 10 are greeting cards for birthdays or Valentine's Day.
The collection also contains the transcript of one letter from Dorothy Dean to Joe Campbell, and one folder of letters which
are edited transcripts of portions of the Milk letters.
The letters are arranged in chronological order. Square brackets indicate dates supplied by the archivist; some dates are
approximations, others are drawn from postmarks or the contents of the letter. Undated letters and cards are filed at the
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Campbell, Joe -- Correspondence
Milk, Harvey -- Correspondence
Gay men--United States--Biography