Archive Activism

Memoir of a “Uniquely Nasty” Journey

978-1-57441-908-5 Cloth
6 x 9 x 0 in
288 pp. 40 b&w illus. Notes.
Pub Date: 09/27/2023


  • Cloth $34.95
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.

Published by University of North Texas Press