Scope and arrangement
The Israel David Fishman papers address his role as a librarian and activist, as well as concern the issues surrounding being an openly gay professional in the late-1960s and early-1970s. His papers contain correspondence with friends, colleagues, and family members and letters of inquiry to businesses and organizations. As founder of the Task Force on Gay Liberation (TFGL), Fishman documents the formative years of this group while simultaneously collecting material from other organizations he was involved with or interested in. Fishman was particularly concerned about the ways in gay liberation issues in the library profession were covered by the media. Fishman wrote chapters for two anthologies regarding his role in the TFGL. Files for these projects include correspondence, typescript drafts, publicity material, and reviews. Fishman also kept records of his employment as a librarian at Upsala College and the rejection of his bid for tenure at that institution. There are extensive personal documents regarding his hobbies, his daily activities, and personal milestones. This collection contains sound recordings, including talks given by early TFGL members. Select sound recordings are unavailable pending preservation transfer.
The Israel David Fishman papers are arranged in six series:
This series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Fishman was a prolific correspondent; additionally, Fishman would made carbon copies of letters that he typed or hand-wrote to others. Personal correspondents included library professional colleagues, such as Janet Cooper and Barbara Gittings; others concerned either publicly or privately with gay issues and liberation struggles; holistic doctors and healers; and personal friends, many of whom Fishman and Navarro met on their many trips to Italy. Fishman often wrote letters to product manufacturers, radio stations, travel agents, and others with a commodity he wished to purchase or comment on. His employment as a librarian at Upsala College (1970-1973) is documented by resumes, job applications, reference letters, memoranda, and a few official letters. Many of Fishman's letters to individuals during this time also comment on his employment and dismissal. For additional material regarding his Upsala employment, see Series II. Library Activities.
Notable correspondents include Susan Saxe, Janet Cooper's friend, who was imprisoned in Massachusetts for bank robbery and murder; Robert Austin Sullivan, a gay prisoner on death row in Florida (he was executed on November 30, 1983); Barry Weaver, the head of Sullivan's defense fund; Allen Young, a writer on gay themes whom Fishman visited at Butterworth Farm, an intentional gay community; and Ron Lambe and Rocco Platt, members of the Radical Faerie Movement who lived at the Running Water intentional community. This series contains three sound recording of Fishman reading correspondence. Sound recordings are unavailable for use pending preservation transfer.
Family letters consists of correspondence Fishman had with his father, and with his sister, Soro Reize. The bulk of these letters regards Fishman's anger that they would not accept his chosen lifestyle and partner. Correspondence with the Navarro family primarily includes letters regarding Carl's father, Frank Navarro, and his reluctance to sell the family business to his son and Fishman. Navarro correspondents are Carl's cousins in Italy with whom the couple visited on their trips abroad. Cards and postcards are primarily holiday and birthday cards, many gay-themed.
Series II is comprised of material reflecting Fishman's involvement with the Task Force on Gay Liberation (TFGL) and his position at Upsala College. Records of the TFGL represent the early years of the task force and contain correspondence, memoranda, minutes, and press releases. Upsala College files cover Fishman's position at the school, talks and programs he organized on LGBT issues, his work to get LGBT material into the library's holdings, correspondence regarding his colleagues responses to his sexuality, and the denial of tenure. This series contains sound recordings of early talks and speeches given by TFGL members, a recording of the 25th Anniversary Dinner, and of talks organized by Fishman at Upsala. Select sound recordings are unavailable for use pending preservation transfer.
This series is arranged alphabetically. Fishman saved many items published by, or related to, the gay organizations proliferating in the early 1970s. These items reflect a broad cross-section, covering onetime events, religious organizations, health bulletins, theater productions, social and self-help groups, and conflicts and "zaps" of establishments who were perceived to be discriminating against gay men and lesbians. Later files reflect Fishman's role on the Board of Directors of the Park Slope Food Coop, publicity material for Trembling Before G-d, VegOut, a vegan dining group that Fishman and Navarro were active in, and their attendance at Mameloshn and radical faerie events. Select gay publications have been transferred to the LGBT Periodicals Collection
Series IV is arranged alphabetically and holds correspondence, typescript drafts, and publicity material. Files regarding Daring to Find Our Names include extensive correspondence with editor James (Jim) Carmichael as well as material Carmichael collected regarding Fishman's role in the formative years of the TFGL. The Linewaiters' Gazette contains copies of articles or letters to the editor written by Fishman.
This series is arranged alphabetically. Topics covered here include Fishman's interest in religion and Chazzanuth music, his job searches, and his relationship with Carl Navarro. Ephemera and Memorabilia files consist of pamphlets, programs, and fliers for events and protests, call slips, LGBT zines, and clippings. This series contains one sound recording of a Yom Kippur reading by A. Bruce Goldman Select sound recordings are unavailable for use pending preservation transfer.
Series VI is the smallest in the collection and contains a variety of ephemera such as t-shirts celebrating activist events, pride-related memorabilia, and a banner acknowledging the long-term relationship between Fishman and Navarro.