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Guide to the Tavern Guild of San Francisco Records, 1961-1993
1995-02  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Separated Material
  • Related Material at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Tavern Guild of San Francisco Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1961-1993
    Accession number: 1995-02
    Creator: Tavern Guild of San Francisco
    Extent: 21 boxes, 2 folders
    Repository: The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
    San Francisco, California.
    Abstract: Minutes, correspondence, financial papers, membership materials, ephemera, photographs, and banners, 1962-1993 (11.25 linear feet), document the work of the Tavern Guild of San Francisco in promoting the interests of gay bars in San Francisco as well as the growth of the Tavern Guild into a well-known service and fundraising organization.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Tavern Guild of San Francisco Records, 1995-02, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated to the GLBT Historical Society by Stanley Boyd in 1995.

    Organizational History

    The Tavern Guild of San Francisco (TGSF) was founded in 1962. The organization had its roots in an informal gathering of gay bar owners and employees who met regularly to socialize and to share news of interest to members of the gay bar community. Phil Doganiero, a bartender at the Suzy-Q bar on Polk Street, was elected the first president of the nascent organization; he was followed by others such as Bill Plath (owner of the D'Oak Room) and Darryl Glied (owner of the Jumpin' Frog). In Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965, historian Nan Boyd writes, The Tavern Guild had initially formed to bring business to alternating bars on typically slow Tuesday afternoons, and the original members stressed the importance of drinking--and gossip. But within its first year, TGSF instituted a number of policies that helped protect bartenders, bar owners, and patrons from continued problems. (p. 223) These problems included patrons who wrote bad checks, police harassment, Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) actions against bars, and the chronic unemployment faced by bartenders whose jobs were subject to the whims of patrons and the actions of police. While the core of the Tavern Guild was bar owners and employees, members of the homophile movement were involved (like Hal Call of the Mattachine Society) and helped provide the Tavern Guild with an organizational structure in its early years.
    Along with protecting gay bar owners and employees, the Tavern Guild reached out as a charitable organization and staged fundraising events for homophile organizations like the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, and the Society for Individual Rights, and, later in the 1960s, for non-gay organizations like the United Farm Workers and the American Civil Liberties Union.
    Funds were most often raised at events such as auctions, dances, and other social gatherings. Perhaps the most important of these events, the annual Beaux Arts Ball, was first held in October 1963. At the October 1965 Beaux Arts Ball, José Sarria was named queen of the ball; in a Napoleonic gesture, Sarria responded by declaring himself "Empress." The Empress title stuck and at the following year's ball a new Empress was elected to lead the recently formed Imperial Court--an official "project" of the Tavern Guild that became the locus of many social and benevolent activities.
    The San Francisco Tavern Guild Foundation (SFTGF) was created to be the organization's fundraising and philanthropic arm. The foundation identified organizations and causes worthy of financial support and distributed funds to those organizations and causes. The SFTGF consisted merely of a board of directors, so the actual events, though sponsored by the Foundation, were organized and staffed by volunteers from the TGSF membership. While both organizations had non-profit status, the SFTGF was a tax-exempt entity, so it was not allowed to give money to the TGSF, except as seed money for fund-raising activities. The SFTGF spearheaded several fundraising and service-oriented projects, including the Godfathers (ca. 1984), Operation Concern (1974), and the Community Thrift Store (1982), the latter two of which eventually were spun off into independent organizations.
    The membership and, consequently, the influence of the Tavern Guild grew from the 1960s through the early 1980s. From the handful of members in the early 1960s, in June 1980 the Tavern Guild claimed a member base of at least 184 individuals and 86 businesses, mostly gay and lesbian bars. Other gay and lesbian communities around the country adopted the Tavern Guild model and name in the 1970s and 1980s. For many reasons, including a pronounced generational divide and the widespread death and community fragmentation as a result of the AIDS epidemic, the Tavern Guild lost members and influence throughout the 1980s. The organization disbanded about 1995.
    Reflecting upon the source of the longstanding power and influence of the Tavern Guild, bar owner and Tavern Guild member Rikki Streicher said in an interview with Nan Boyd, The Tavern Guild was probably singly the reason why bars achieved a success politically. Because a buck is the bottom line at all times. And the bars had commanded an enormous amount of money in terms of the city. So when they began to invite politicians to their meetings, the politicians realized that here's an organized group and that, number one, they have money and, number two, they have votes. ( Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965, p.226)

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Minutes, correspondence, financial papers, membership materials, ephemera, photographs, and banners, 1962-1993 (11.25 linear feet), document the work of the Tavern Guild of San Francisco (TGSF) in promoting the interests of gay bars in San Francisco as well as the growth of the Tavern Guild into a well-known service and fundraising organization. The collection reveals how the organization was run, how it changed through the years, who its members were, and its activities, goals, and methods. It also gives insight into the San Francisco bar scene and the changing concerns of the gay community in San Francisco from the 1960s through the 1980s.
    The first series contains documents such as constitutions, by-laws, and organizational histories that provide an overview of the organization and its mission. The Meeting Minutes Series reveals who was active in the organization, how it was run, and concerns of members, as well as what events, programs, and projects the Tavern Guild was involved in. Series 9, Administrative and Miscellaneous, contains a few items related to the running of the Tavern Guild office.
    The third series, Correspondence, is relatively small (nine folders) and contains a wide range of topics. The Financial Series includes financial reports and other summary financial data as well as a sampling of receipts and invoices. Income tax returns and applications for tax-exempt status can also be found here. The Membership Series could be mined for data regarding the demographics of San Francisco bars. Included on the membership forms are the names, addresses, and owners of bars, and the names, addresses, and places of employment of bar employees. Meeting attendance lists show who attended each meeting.
    Series 6 and 7 concern events, programs, and projects the Tavern Guild of San Francisco and San Francisco Tavern Guild Foundation were involved in. Some were ongoing or annual, such as the Beaux Arts Ball and Community Thrift Store, and others were more short term. Financial documentation, correspondence, and ephemera comprise the bulk of these series. Photographs of some events can be found in series 10, Photographs.

    Arrangement

    The collection is divided into 11 series:
    • General
    • Meeting Minutes
    • Correspondence
    • Financial
    • Membership
    • Events
    • Programs and Projects
    • Political Subject Files
    • Administrative and Miscellaneous
    • Photographs
    • Banners
    One box of legal-sized materials is found at the end of the collection (box 20).

    Separated Material

    Items removed the collection totaled about two cartons and included the following materials:
    • Ephemera: Flyers for events and bars were removed to the Ephemera Collection.
    • Duplicates: Duplicate financial information was removed from the collection, but examples of receipts as well as summarized financial statements were retained.

    Related Material at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

    Title: Scott Bishop Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1990-11
    Title: Matthew Brown Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: 2001-23
    Title: Robert Cramer Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1996-19
    Title: Golden Gate Business Association,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1990-06
    Title: Henri I. Leleu Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1997-13
    Title: Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1993-13
    Title: Don Lucas Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1997-25
    Title: People's Fund Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1988-06
    Title: Q.T. Bar Records and Artifacts,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1997-70
    Title: David Root Slides,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1990-07
    Title: José Sarria Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: 1996-01
    Title: Wide Open Town History Project Records
    Title: GLBTHS Sites Database
    Title: GLBTHS Poster Collection:
    bar and Beaux Arts Ball posters
    Title: GLBTHS Ephemera Collection:
    Organizations/Groups; Recurring Events; Sites
    Title: GLBTHS Oral History Collection:
    Don Lucas; José Sarria; Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin; Otto Bremerman; Bill Plath