Archive Activism: Memoir of a “Uniquely Nasty” Journey (Hardcover)

Archive Activism: Memoir of a “Uniquely Nasty” Journey By Charles Francis Cover Image

Archive Activism: Memoir of a “Uniquely Nasty” Journey (Hardcover)


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Archive Activism is a memoir of activism rooted in a new way to converse with history—by rescuing it. Archive activists discover documents and other important materials often classified, “gone missing,” or sealed that somehow escaped the fireplace or shredder. It is an approach to LGBTQ advocacy and policy activism based on citizen archivery and original archival research to effect social change.
Research=Activism is the formula growing out of Charles Francis’s personal story as a gay Texan born and raised during the 1950s and 1960s in Dallas. The rescues range in time and place from Francis’s first encounter with a raucous, near-violent religious demonstration in Fort Worth to attics loaded with forgotten historic treasures of LGBTQ pioneers. Archive Activism tells how Francis helped Governor George W. Bush achieve his dream of becoming president in 2000 by reaching out to gay and lesbian supporters, the first time a Republican candidate for president formally met with gay and lesbian Americans. This inspired Francis to engage with deleted LGBTQ history by forming a historical society with an edge, a new Mattachine Society of Washington, DC.
For the first time, Archive Activism reveals how LGBTQ secrets were held for decades at the LBJ Presidential Library in the papers of President Johnson’s personal secretary, sealed until her death at age 105. Mattachine’s signature discovery is a federal attorney’s classified assault blandly filed under “Suitability” at the National Archives: “What it boils down to is that most men look upon homosexuality as something uniquely nasty.” Archive Activism is not only a memoir but also an essential roadmap for activists from any group armed only with their library cards.
CHARLES FRANCIS cofounded in 2011 a repurposed Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, a history society with an edge to advocate for full LGBTQ civil equality. He is a retired public affairs consultant who has worked for the largest public affairs firms and their corporate clients worldwide. He and his family live in Washington, DC, and Homer, Alaska.
Product Details ISBN: 9781574419085
ISBN-10: 1574419080
Publisher: University of North Texas Press
Publication Date: September 27th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English
“This is a wonderful book. Although it is a memoir, it is also a handbook for ordinary folks—whether LGBTQ or not—to engage in everyday activism. It can be applicable to any group that has been erased from the mainstream historical archive because of their nonnormative status. This is a recovery project of a particular silenced and erased history of gays and lesbians in the United States.”—Gust A. Yep, coeditor of Queer Theory and Communication and LGBT Studies and Queer Theory
“Charles Francis has written a magnificently cinematic memoir of a life of anxiety, commitment, and outright fun, populated by characters from Jayne Mansfield to David Rockefeller to George W. Bush. Charles brought gay-rights pioneer Frank Kameny’s papers to the Library of Congress, uncovered Nancy Reagan’s refusal to help a dying Rock Hudson, and found the roots of Executive Order 10450, which in 1954 declared homosexual ‘perversion’ a national security threat. Charles Francis engages his readers at once and takes them on a ride that is, at turns, horrifying, uplifting, and delightful.”—Ambassador (ret.) James K. Glassman, former U.S. Under Secretary of State and Founding Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas
“The National Archives greets visitors with the Shakespearean stone inscription: WHAT IS PAST IS PROLOGUE. In this lively, impassioned memoir, Charles Francis puts it with a very American plain-spokenness: ‘The key to Archive Activism is not only finding the stuff, but using it . . . to make the world a better place.’ I can’t think of another book that better conveys the excitements and real-life results that can be obtained by the citizen-scholar.”—Thomas Mallon, author of Fellow Travelers and Mrs. Paine’s Garage
“An intimate memoir and a stirring rallying cry, Archive Activism is required reading for anyone fighting the erasure of a community’s history. From the Eisenhower Administration to the January 6th insurrection, this book shows us how the first drafts of history are written—and crucially, he explains how we as citizens can correct them. His work to recover buried history has been essential for activists and historians alike, gifting us the opportunity to learn firsthand from the queer pioneers who paved the way for our generation. Without Charles Francis, my book and so many others like it would not have been possible. Archive Activism is an urgent, inspiring text that belongs on every bookshelf.”—Eric Cervini, author of The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America

“The Rainbow Community has a courageous and noble history which should never be forgotten. Charles Francis significantly assisted in making that history--his new book is essential reading for those who need to be inspired by our history. Charles is that rare person who is a brilliant story teller, historian, and activist. I am honored to know him.”--David Mixner, author of Stranger Among Friends

"Archive Activism describes the efforts by author Charles Francis and his supporters to uncover long hidden documents, among other things, revealing how LGBTQ federal workers were forced out of their jobs in the 1950s and 1960s. . . . Francis describes in the book his early archive activism efforts that included co-founding the Kameny Papers Project, which arranged for the Library of Congress to acquire the voluminous collection of the documents of Frank Kameny."--Washington Blade