Scope and arrangement
The Eric Marcus papers, which date from the 1920s to 2002, document the author's non-fiction books and popular magazine articles, written primarily on gay and lesbian themes. The bulk of the collection contains sound recordings and transcripts of interviews with over 200 gay and lesbian people that Marcus used as source material for many of his books. In most cases, these recordings and transcripts are closed until 2040. Check the the container list for specific restrictions. Other materials related to Marcus' published work consist of research files, photographs, typescripts, correspondence, news clippings, and galleys. The collection also contains a smaller quantity of files documenting Marcus' public speaking engagements, radio appearances, and earlier television news production career.
Making History, often cited as Marcus' most important work, is very well represented in the collection. The author's research process for this book involved interviewing over 80 lesbians and gay men about their lives, focusing particularly upon those who had been involved in gay and lesbian activist groups, or who had been present at pivotal events. He interviewed activists as well as ordinary people, from the very young to the very old. Many of his interview subjects, such as Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, Kay Tobin Lahusen, Randy Shilts, Vito Russo, Sylvia Rivera, and Larry Kramer, were later regarded as highly influential in the modern struggle for LGBT rights after the book's publication. Marcus wove these first-person accounts into a narrative of the history of the gay and lesbian rights movement in the United States during the second half of the 20th century. This process of gathering personal oral histories and using them as the main source material for a non-fiction book became a repeatable model for Marcus, utilized for the follow-up to Making History, Making Gay History, and other titles. Other artifacts of his writing process, including a master index of interview subjects and research files, are included in this subsection. Correspondence with interviewees and those who declined to be interviewed, including Rita Mae Brown, Phil Donahue and Harvey Fierstein, as well as from readers, is found in boxes 3 and 4. Correspondence and contracts with the publisher, Harper Collins, are included as is a file of author photographs. Documentation of the critical performance of Making History and Marcus' efforts to promote it can be found in publicity, review, clipping, and book tour files in this subsection. Recordings and transcripts of all interviews in this subsection are restricted until 2040, unless the researcher obtains permission from the author and the interview subject.
As an updated version of Making History, Making Gay History occupies a much smaller portion of the collection. Files on this volume consist of a galley, updated information on many of the original interview subjects and interviews with a few additional people not interviewed for the first volume, including Ellen DeGeneres, Al Gore, Jim Kolbe, Megan Smith, and Kevin Jennings. Recordings and transcripts of all interviews in this subsection are restricted until 2040, unless the researcher obtains permission from the author and the interview subject.
Two titles represented more prominently in the collection are The Male Couple's Guide and Together Forever. Most of the 132 oral histories found in these two titles are those of couples discussing their long-term same-sex relationships. In the case of Together Forever, interview subjects are identified by their first names, which in some cases have been changed to protect the subjects' privacy. Recordings and transcripts of all interviews in both titles' subsections are restricted until 2040. For both of these titles, files holding correspondence, contracts, reviews and publicity materials are included. The Male Couple's Guide subsection also holds several files on research relating to specific chapters and themes discussed in the book, such as communication, intimacy, monogamy and non-monogamy, commitment, domestic life, family, parenting, finances, health, aging, loss, and divorce.
Marcus deployed familiar interview tactics in the writing assistance he provided for autobiographical works by Greg Louganis, Rudy Galindo, and Rod and Bob Jackson-Paris, interviewing these out gay athletes extensively prior to writing drafts of their biographies. Numerous hours of recorded interviews with Louganis and Galindo are included in the Breaking the Surface and Icebreaker subsections respectively. Use restrictions apply to some of the autobiographical works' interviews. See individual boxes and folders for specific restrictions. In addition to numerous hours of recorded interviews with Louganis, the Breaking the Surface subsection contains several versions of typescript drafts of the book including one with Louganis' comments and corrections, found in box 15, folder 17. The Olympic diving champion came out publicly as gay and HIV+ for the first time with the publication of Breaking the Surface. Other files in this collection hold news clippings relating to Louganis' coming out announcement and disclosure of HIV status, as well as critical reactions to the autobiography. Some clippings are in German.
Other gay- and lesbian- themed titles that are less well-represented in this collection include Is It a Choice?, What If Someone I Know Is Gay?, and Out in All Directions: The Almanac of Gay and Lesbian America, which all contain files of contracts, correspondence, and publicity materials.
Two titles of general interest, not pertaining specifically to lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) themes in this collection are, Why Suicide? and Expect the Worst. Why Suicide? was inspired by Marcus' father's suicide when the author was a child. Files in this subsection consist primarily of research files on topics relating to suicide such as mental illness, methods of suicide, statistics, and prevention. Expect the Worst is a compilation of humorous quotations about pessimism that Marcus solicited and gathered from friends, relatives, and colleagues. Files in the Expect the Worst subsection include correspondence, manuscripts, and publicity materials. A later version of this book is titled Pessimisms, and has been translated into numerous languages.
Throughout his career, the author has made frequent appearances on numerous radio programs across the United States both to promote his specific books and to voice general support of LGBT issues. Recordings of many of these appearances can be found in the Radio Appearances section and are arranged chronologically.
Documentation of Marcus' public speaking engagements before audiences of college students and LGBT groups is included in this collection and arranged chronologically. A few sound and video recordings, scripts of many of these speeches, event and location information, and correspondence with the groups and academic institutions that invited him are contained in these files.
Marcus' early television news production career is represented in the collection in files about his work on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, a PBS special on the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, and other freelance television work. A handful of video recordings are included in this subsection.
The Eric Marcus papers are arranged in five series: