Scope and Contents
Title: Harvey Milk Archives--Scott Smith Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1930-1995
Date (bulk): 1973-1985
Collection Identifier: GLC 35
28 cubic feet
James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA, 94102
Harvey Milk was the first gay man elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Scott Smith was his partner and friend.
The collection documents the personal and political life of Harvey Milk, and the personal life of Scott Smith. Milk's political
papers include issue files from the Board of Supervisors, as well as speeches and campaign literature. The photographs document
Milk's and Smith's activities in the gay community.
The collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours, with photographs available during Photo Desk
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 copyright holder.
[Identification of item], Harvey Milk Archives--Scott Smith Collection (GLC 35), Gay and Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public
The Harvey Milk Archives—Scott Smith Collection was donated to The San Francisco Public Library by Elva Smith in 1996.
Researchers are encouraged to see also: Harvey Milk-Susan Davis Alch Correspondence (GLC 19); Harvey Milk-Joseph Campbell
Correspondence (GLC 20); Randy Shilts Papers (GLC 43)--Mayor of Castro Street series; Mike Weiss Double Play Collection (SFH
34); and, Daniel Nicoletta Photographs Collection (GLC 36). The San Francisco History Center's Biography Ephemera files contain
folders on Harvey Milk, George Moscone, and Dan White.
Harvey Bernard Milk was born on May 22,1930, in Woodmere, New York. His parents were Minerva Karns and William Milk. His older
brother was Robert Milk. Harvey graduated from the New York State Teachers College at Albany in 1951. He was in the U.S. Navy
until 1955. He then worked briefly in New York on Wall Street and eventually became involved with the Tom O'Horgan shows
Jesus Christ Superstar. He moved out to San Francisco in the early 1970s.
Harvey's political aspirations began with his unsuccessful campaigns for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1973 and
1975. Mayor George Moscone appointed Milk to the city's Board of Permit Appeals in 1976 though he had to resign from that
position in the same year when he announced his candidacy for the California State Assembly. He lost the Assembly race as
well. He was elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 1977. On January 9, 1978, Milk was sworn into office.
While in office, he cosponsored a gay rights ordinance, and was interested in the creation of a gay community center. His
Supervisor issue files cover a wide variety of topics from the Briggs Initiative (Proposition 6) and divestment from South
Africa to San Francisco parking facilities and the much-publicized Dog Litter law. Milk's life was cut short when Dan White
assassinated him on November 27, 1978.
There are several biographical works about Milk. Most notable is
The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts. The documentary
The Times of Harvey Milk by Robert Epstein and Richard Schmeichen is also an excellent resource.
Double Play by Mike Weiss recounts the killings of Milk and Moscone and includes transcripts of police documents. All of these books
and videotapes are available in the San Francisco Public Library. The archival research for
Double Play is also available at the San Francisco History Center of the San Francisco Public Library.
Scope and Contents
The collection is a mixture of the personal papers of Harvey Milk and Scott Smith, the political papers of Harvey Milk, and
the collection of the Harvey Milk Archives and Harvey Milk Estate. As Smith was the head of the Milk Archives and also Milk's
executor, the latter materials have been organized into one series. The political papers and photographs series are the best
documented portions of the collection. The political papers include drafts of speeches and writings, as well as the flyers
and other ephemera which a campaign produces. There is unfortunately not much on Milk's early life though there are a few
documents on his mother. With the exception of the photographs, the bulk of the collection documents Milk's life on the West
The collection is arranged into six series: Series 1. Harvey Milk's personal papers; Series 2. Harvey Milk's political papers;
Series 3. Scott Smith's personal papers; Series 4. Materials relating to the Harvey Milk Archives and his estate; Series 5.
Photographic materials; and Series 6. Clippings and ephemera. Most series are arranged alphabetically by folder title, and
materials are filed chronologically within each folder; the photographic series is organized by slide program when possible,
and by folder title in all other cases.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Smith, Scott (Joseph Scott)--Archives.
Gay liberation movement--California--San Francisco.
Gay politicians--California--San Francisco.
Gays--Political activity--California--San Francisco.
San Francisco (Calif.)--Politics and government--20th century
Speeches, addresses, etc., American.