The Northampton Arts Council is an organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Stories of Our LGBTQ Ancestors: Dr. Amber Starbuck and Mabel Stevens


WHAT: Stories of Our LGBTQ Ancestors: Dr. Amber Starbuck and Mabel Stevens
WHEN:Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 7 PM
WHERE: Coolidge Museum, Forbes Library, 20 West St, Northampton, MA

Forbes Library will host a talk about Dr. Amber Starbuck and Mabel Stevens of Middlefield, MA, an out lesbian couple who ran a wellness resort called the Big House in Middlefield, MA from the 1920s to 1960s on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 7 PM in the Coolidge Museum on the library's second floor. The talk is part of a series about pre-Stonewall era LGBTQ individuals who lived in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts curated by the Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA) of Holyoke, MA. The talk is free and open to the public. Suggested donation to benefit the non-profit SMA is $10 per person; $5 for students and elders. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

The story of Starbuck and Stevens is a compelling narrative of pre-Stonewall queer lives and queer community, of lesbians openly living in rural Massachusetts, and working women who were trailblazers as prominent community leaders in Springfield as well as Middlefield, MA. This history is for anyone interested in LGBTQI+ history, women's and feminist history, early lesbian history in the Pioneer Valley, history of women's participation in community organizations (both women were involved in the Springfield YWCA), women's labor history in western Massachusetts, rural physicians and healthcare, gender non-conformity and more.

The talk draws on a range of primary sources discovered and organized by the SMA -- including local news clippings, print ads and posters, Big House artifacts, Census and Ancestry.com records, and, most notably, photographs from a personal album compiled by Starbuck and Stevens, and images from the Big House photographed recently by the SMA. These sources provide the visuals for the talk.

Stories of Our LGBTQ Ancestors: Dr. Amber Starbuck and Mabel Stevens teaches valuable information to the community about movers and shakers who were instrumental in forming businesses and organizations well before the start of the modern LGBTQ Movement but whose histories have been hidden – until now.

This history talk is a 90-minute Powerpoint presentation full of found images and historical facts about the two women, their work and love relationship, followed by a Question and Answer session.

For those who want to learn more about Starbuck and Stevens, the SMA offers a PDF of an accompanying 80-page, annotated SMA original research paper which includes photos not shown in the history talk presentation, for an additional donation of $10.

The Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA) of Holyoke, MA brings to the community a series of history talks about pre-Stonewall era LGBTQ individuals who lived in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. The series is titled Stories of Our LGBTQ Ancestors.  The SMA’s team of researchers, led by Curator of the SMA, Ben Power, who is the Executive Director of the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, has recently completed extensive original research and compiled it into a new history talk.

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