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Finding Aid for the Margarethe Cammermeyer papers, 1963-2012
2186  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • General Note
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Margarethe Cammermeyer papers
    Collection number: 2186
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 26 linear ft. (59 document boxes, 2 record cartons, 1 flat box)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1991-2000
    Date (inclusive): 1963-2012
    Abstract: Margarethe (Grethe) Cammermeyer was born in 1942 in Oslo, Norway. Her career as nurse in the military included distinguished service in Vietnam, work for the Veteran’s Administration, and a position as Chief Nurse of the Washington National Guard. As a result of her statement in an interview for top security clearance that she was a lesbian, she was separated from the military in 1992. She successfully challenged her discharge and the military’s regulations that mandated that lesbians and gay men be separated from the service. This experience, documented in her memoir, Serving in Silence, inspired her to become involved in LGBT activism and politics. The Margarethe Cammermeyer papers contain her personal, professional, and activist materials including correspondence, legal documents, photographs, videotapes, ephemera and other materials. The majority of the material relates to her successful challenge in the courts of both her discharge and the military’s regulations that mandated that lesbians and gay men be separated from the service between 1992 and 1997.
    Language of Materials: Materials are primarily in English, some materials in Norwegian.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Cammermeyer, Margarethe, 1942-

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Margarethe Cammermeyer papers (Collection 2186). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7347666 

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Margarethe Cammermeyer, 2013. This collection is part of an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) and the UCLA Library.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Marika Cifor in 2013 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Jillian Cuellar. Processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia.
    The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive at UCLA is an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW), and the UCLA Library. These collections expand the pool of primary source materials available to researchers and to the community at large. This partnership was initiated by CSW and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to inventory, organize, preserve, and digitize more than eighty Mazer collections pertaining to lesbian and feminist activism and writings.

    General Note

    This collection forms part of the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives Collection.

    Biography/History

    Margarethe Cammermeyer was born on March 24, 1942 in Oslo, Norway. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1951, settling near Washington, D.C. She became an American citizen in 1960. From 1959 to 1963 she attended the University of Maryland, College Park, earning a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. In 1961, while at the University of Maryland, she joined the Army Student Nurse Program. Upon graduation in 1963, she reported for active duty, serving in United States Army Nursing Corps at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Martin Army Hospital at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and a 2-year tour in Nuremberg, Germany. In Germany she married fellow soldier, Harvey Hawken, in 1965. At her request in 1967, she was sent to the 24th Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh, Vietnam where she served for 14 months as head nurse of a medical unit and of the neurosurgical intensive care unit. She was awarded a Bronze Star. She was forced to leave the military in 1968 when she became pregnant with the first of her four sons, as women were not permitted to have dependents.
    After returning from Vietnam, she settled in Seattle, Washington with her family. She continued her work as a nurse and in 1971 began working at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital. She continued working in VA Medical Centers, including those in Seattle, San Francisco, and American Lake, until her retirement in 1996. She was honored as the Veterans’ Administration Nurse of the Year in 1985. She supplemented her appointment at the VA with part-time work as a lecturer and consultant. She also continued her studies, graduating from the University of Washington with Masters of Arts in Nursing in 1976 and a Ph.D. in Nursing Science in 1991. She divorced in 1980.
    The military played an important role in her life. In 1972 when the regulation prohibiting women from serving with dependents she joined the Army Reserves, achieving the rank of Colonel in 1987. In 1988, she accepted the position of Chief Nurse of the Washington State National Guard. That same year she began a relationship with Diane Divelbess. In 1989, during an interview for top-secret clearance she told the interviewer, "I am a lesbian." As a result, she was separated from the military on June 1, 1992. On the same day, Lambda Legal and the Northwest Women’s Law Center filed suit on her behalf in Federal District Court in Seattle, challenging Cammermeyer’s discharge and the military’s regulations that mandated that lesbians and gay men be separated from the service. In June 1994, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly held that the ban on gays in the military violated the equal protection and due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution and ordered the Army to reinstate Cammermeyer. She was reinstated in the Washington National Guard and resumed her position as Chief Nurse. The government did not appeal Cammermeyer’s right to be reinstated, but in its appeal asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to strike the judge’s ruling from the books. The ruling took issue with the older ban as well as new the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which was enacted in 1993. In October 1996, the Court of Appeals dismissed the government’s appeal as moot and denied the government’s request to vacate the district court’s ruling, sending the case back to the district court. In 1997 the district court denied the government’s motion to vacate, maintaining the value of the victory as precedent. In March 1997, Cammermeyer retired with full military privileges. She returned to health care work in 2006, opening an Adult Family Home to provide skilled care to the elderly. Since 2008, she has served as the Hospital Commissioner for Whidbey General Hospital.
    Cammermeyer’s experiences with the military’s antigay policies inspired her to become involved in LGBT activism and politics. In 1994, she published a memoir, Serving in Silence; it was adapted into an Emmy winning television movie in 1995. Her first involvement in politics was in 1998 when she ran as a Democratic candidate for the United States Congress in Washington. Though she did not win the congressional seat, she continues to be involved in local politics, serving as the Chairperson of her local Democratic party. Between 1999 and 2001 she hosted the Grethe Cammermeyer Show, a daily internet talk show, on GAYBC Radio Network. She serves on the Military Advisory Council for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Defense Advisory Council of Women in the Services. Cammermeyer and her wife, artist Diane Dievelbess, have been involved in activism around a number of LGBT causes, including marriage equality. In 2012, after same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington, Cammermeyer and Divelbess became the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Island County.

    Scope and Content

    The Margarethe Cammermeyer papers contain her personal, professional, and activist materials including correspondence, legal documents, photographs, videotapes, ephemera, and other materials. The majority of the material is in the first series and relates to her successful challenge in the courts of both her discharge and the military’s regulations that mandated that lesbians and gay men be separated from the service between 1992 and 1997. A significant amount of materials in the second series documents her activism on LGBT issues, particularly in fighting discrimination against LGBT people in the military. This series contains copies of her memoir Serving in Silence and its film adaptation, correspondence, congressional campaign materials, photographs, writings, newspaper clippings, videotapes, audio cassettes, awards, and other materials relating to her professional life. The third series contains materials documenting her nursing career and personal life including a copy of dissertation, a yearbook, and wedding album.

    Organization and Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged in the following series:
    • Series 1: Legal Papers, 1978-2008
    • Series 2: Professional Career and Activism, 1979-2011
    • Series 3: Personal Papers, 1963-2012
    Series 1 is arranged according to its original order. Series 2 and 3 are arranged chronologically.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    Audiovisual materials must be digitized prior to use.

    Related Material

    • DADT Digital Archive (http://dadtarchive.org/)
    • Dusty Pruitt Papers, 1945-2002. Coll 2012.029. ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Cammermeyer, Margarethe, 1942---Archives.
    Gay military personnel--United States--Archives.
    Lesbian activists--United States--Archives.
    Gay military personnel--Government policy--United States.
    United States--Politics and government--1993-2001.