Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Donna M. Smith papers
Bulk Dates: (bulk
Collection number: Coll2006-002
Smith, Donna M.,
Collection Size: 2 archive boxes
0.7 linear feet
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
Los Angeles, California 90007
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, vacation journals,
and educational materials, 1940s to 1992, documenting the life of Donna M.
Smith; her relationship with her partner of 40 years, Valerie Jarrard; her
relationship to other friends, in particular Celia Hunter, Ruth Poirier and
Doris Pressler; and her involvement with lesbian and gay rights, the
environment, and animal welfare.
Languages represented in the collection: English
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in
writing from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives as the physical owner.
Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in
the materials. Note that ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives can grant
copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for
all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).
Box #, folder #, Donna M. Smith papers, Coll2006-002, ONE National Gay
& Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Date of acquisition unknown.
Formerly housed in box 103-266 and the following subject files: Donna
Smith, Celia Hunter, and Matthew of Glendale. Collection processed by Michael
C. Oliveira, October 3, 2006
Processing this collection has been funded
by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records
Donna May Smith was born on May 2, 1919, and was raised in Los Angeles,
California. After graduating from high school, she found employment as a
secretary in the offices of a union in the film industry. In 1939, she came out
to a small group of lesbians and soon after she met her partner of 40 years,
Valerie Jarrard. When Smith's mother learned of the relationship, she had her
daughter arrested and committed to a mental institution. This experience was
briefly documented in
Before Stonewall: The Making of a
Gay and Lesbian Community
(1985) and in Dorothy Engleman's
Pride and Prejudice (1992). In the early 1980s,
Smith became increasingly involved in lesbian and gay, animal welfare, and
environmental organizations. In her later years she freelanced as bookkeeper
and used those skills as Treasurer of the International Gay & Lesbian
Archives and of the Society of Senior Gay & Lesbian Citizens' Project
Rainbow. She died in Santa Monica, California on February 22, 1992.
Donna M. Smith Papers, Coll2006-002, ONE National Gay & Lesbian
Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Hamilton, Wayne, ed. "Donna Smith Passes On."
Project Rainbow Newsletter: North Hollywood Chapter,
"In Memoriam: Donna Smith."
, April/May 1992, 12.
"Obituaries: Donna Mae Smith."
20, 1992, A19.
Vaughn, Susan, "Before Stonewall: A Look at Gay History."
Reader, November 1, 1985, 6.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Donna M. Smith papers consist of correspondence, photographs, and
other materials, primarily of a private nature, that document Smith's life and
her interests in lesbian and gay rights, the environment, and animal welfare.
The bulk of the collection consists of personal correspondence including: an
exchange of letters with Celia Hunter, Alaska conservationist and
environmentalist; letters and cards from Ruth Poirier and Doris Pressler
(Pressler, the first woman civil engineer in the county of Los Angeles also
Peggy Gilbert and The Dixie Belles);
and Suzanne Kushner. The personal correspondence contains postcards to her
partner Valerie Jarrard from the 1950s. The General correspondence consists of
Smith's letters regarding political and volunteer activities. Other materials
include four address books used by Smith and a journal, written in the third
person, describing Donna's and Valerie's vacations, 1973-1977. A file of
educational materials (1980) from a class sponsored by the Gay & Lesbian
Community Service Center includes information on counseling Gays and Lesbians,
and the syllabus for the class
Theories, Development, and
Intervention Strategies for the Homosexualities
. Smith's statement to
the Franchise Tax Board following Valerie's death (1982) underscores the
challenges survivors of same-sex relationships encountered. Other files contain
Smith's identification and membership cards, as well as her will and several
obituaries. The photographs (1987-1991) depict Smith with friends, and document
her involvement in the community, in particular with the Lesbian & Gay
Rights Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Color negatives of many
of the photographs also survive in the collection, as well as large-format
black-and-white negatives for which no prints exist.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Smith, Donna M., 1919-1992
Hunter, Celia, 1919-2001
Women political activists