Thursday, May 30, 2013

L.A. Food Culture and California Farm Work, 1950-1980

CSW's recent Cultural Politics of Seeds symposium, coorganized by Professor Allison Carruth, featured a UCLA Library Special Collections Exhibit in addition to the presentation panels. Titled "L.A. Food Culture and California Farm Work, 1950-1980," the exhibit was organized by students in Professor Carruth's English 184.7 class, Food Writing and Food Politics in the Information Age.

The students used two Special Collections: the Collection of Menus, which features restaurants in Los Angeles and Southern California, and the papers of Andy Zermeno, a political cartoonist for El Malcriado, a periodical produced by the United Farm Workers of America. The students also used the general map collection with the guidance of Jon Hargis, Map & GIS resource specialist in the CRIS department.

During the month of April, the class met in groups once per week to explore the materials they planned on highlighting and discussing in the exhibit. Some of the students also used materials in the LSC Reading Room outside of class time. The first class focused on an introduction to Library Special Collections and research using the collections, led by Heather Briston, Head of Public Services for Special Collections; an introduction to the maps, led by Hargis; and an introduction by Jennifer Osorio, the Subject Specialist for Literature. The students worked in groups to decide on their themes and materials and to do their research. Once the exhibit items and exhibit text were finalized by the students and Professor Carruth, Octavio Olvera, Visual Arts Specialist, Brandon Barton, Duplications Coordinator, and Briston worked on the digitization of materials for the student posters and slide presentation, as well as constructing and installing the physical exhibit for the day of the symposium.

Photos courtesy of the UCLA Library

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Making Malibu's Public Beaches Truly Public


Did you know that there is no such thing as a fully private beach in California? Every single beach in the state is, at least in part, public land. If this fact is news to you, you’re not alone. CSW Research Scholar Jenny Price has spent the last several months developing a mobile phone app called Our Malibu Beaches to help clarify the divisions between public and private beaches in the titular city. Drawing on 10 years of Price’s research and writing on California’s beaches, the app shows a house-by-house list of where anyone may use the Malibu shorefront.

Jenny Price
In a recent interview with AirTalk, Price explained that every beach in the state is public, at minimum, below the mean high tide line, which is the ocean’s average high tide line over the past 18.6 years. The working definition of that line, Price said, is the wet sand from the most recent high tide. In other words, all wet sand in California is open to everyone. There are many beaches where the dry sand is also public space, which is where the app comes in handy. The problem with Malibu’s beaches, Price said, is that many wealthy homeowners along the coast use illegal signs, cones, fences, and locks to obfuscate or outright block public parking and walkways to the beaches. In addition, some homeowners employ private security to intimidate aspiring beachgoers even more. Price explained that the California Coastal Commission takes this issue seriously but doesn’t have the resources to keep up with the sheer number of illegal signs and locks on access points—which are too few in number anyway—up and down the coast.

Our Malibu Beaches helps by detailing public access points and parking and the hours that each are open. (While public beaches and easements are open 24/7, the same is not necessarily true for all access points leading to them.) The app also contains tools for contacting public agencies if users run into resistance from beachfront homeowners. By crowdsourcing the locations of illegal signs and other site-specific obstructions, the app helps make sure everyone has the access to these beautiful beaches that they are entitled to by state law.

The app will launch for iPhone on June 2. A Kickstarter fund is underway now to raise money for an Android version and to keep the app free to download for as long as possible. Please consider donating to support access to Malibu’s public beaches!

Update: Our Malibu Beaches was featured in the Los Angeles Times on May 29:,0,584010.story

To read more about the app and this issue, see:

Monday, May 13, 2013

From the June Mazer Lesbian Archives: Broomstick Magazine

Broomstick was an independent, self-published radical feminist magazine dedicated to supporting and promoting women and lesbian activism and art for an audience of women over forty. Founded by Maxine Spencer and Polly Taylor in Berkeley, California, in 1978, it ceased publication in 1993. Its main goals were confronting ageism, stereotypes of the disabled, and breaking down gender conventions in publishing. and explores topics related to radical feminist politics, lesbian culture and art, spirituality of the Crone, women and aging, and feminist coalitions and communities. The collection contains a complete run of the magazine, organizational records, financial statements, correspondence, submissions and rejections, and many of the plates used for printing the magazine. The collection also contains Spencer’s personal papers documenting her personal experiences with radical feminism, lesbianism, disability, sexism, and age discrimination.

The idea for Broomstick was born when eight women over forty attended a Crone’s Caucus and organized a loose coalition that would support, fund, and collectively address concerns specific to older women. This peer-led group would also function as a supportive network for activism. Together, Spencer and Taylor approached “OPTIONS for Women Over Forty,” a newly formed feminist organization in Berkeley. They asked for its endorsement and financial support to create a feminist political journal for and about women over forty. In exchange, Spencer and Taylor pledged to publicize OPTIONS in the journal and promote its programs. Though OPTIONS gave initial support and funding, Broomstick eventually grew into an independently published and funded magazine, but financial insolvency led to its demise.

The materials are organized into four series: Magazine Production, Publicity, Administrative Records, and Author Files. The Magazine Production series documents the creative and physical production process of Broomstick from start to finish. It offers a unique perspective on the process of creating a grassroots, independent magazine. It contains layouts, typesettings, artwork and cartoons, articles used for research, letters to the editor, ideas for editorials, drafts and potential content for magazine columns, promotional contests, as well as a complete set of finished Broomstick issues, including Indexes–published annually cataloging authors, themes, and published issues–and a self-produced Writer’s Packet to guide contributors in the submission process. The other series are equally rich in material about the process of publishing, including developing ideas, managing finances, and getting attention.

The finding aid for this collection is available for viewing at the Online Archive of California ( Digitized materials from the collection and the finding aid will be available for viewing on the UCLA Library’s Digital Collections website. This research is part of an ongoing CSW research project, “Making Invisible Histories Visible: Preserving the Legacy of Lesbian Feminist Activism and Writing in Los Angeles,” with Principal Investigators Kathleen McHugh, CSW DIrector and Professor in the Departments of English and Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA 
(on sabbatical from April to June, 2013) and Gary Strong, University Librarian at UCLA. Funded in part by an NEH grant, the project is a three-year project to arrange, describe, digitize, and make physically and electronically accessible two major clusters of June Mazer Lesbian Archive collections related to West Coast lesbian/feminist activism and writing since the 1930s.

For more information on this project, visit
For more information on the activities of the Mazer, visit