Digital Project Welcomes East Village Other, Others

It was a good week for Independent Voices, the underground/alternative/literary press digital project that has consumed the better part of my last four years. I won’t detail every connection I made with rights holders or prospective rights holders. Getting an official okay can take many weeks and require my sending of multiple reminders. That’s just the nature of email communication. This project has taught me patience.

Today, I’ll just mention a few of the major agreements that I received.

After a long campaign to find out who the rights holder was, I was thrilled—yes, that’s still an understatement—to welcome East Village Other and Gothic Blimp Works to the project. I ended up not finding one rights holder. Rather, I sent my invitation to a list of every EVO veteran I could find, and even some folks peripheral to EVO who weren’t really in a position to say yes or no anyhow but might have been able to provide input, and then I responded to everyone who got back to me. I found strong support for being included, and no opposition, which is what I anticipated. EVO was one of the most important underground papers of the Vietnam era and was one of the first five members of Underground Press Syndicate, the first nationwide network of underground papers. In fact, as the story goes, the name Underground Press Syndicate came out of their office. Gothic Blimp Works had a brief run of eight issues in 1969. It was published by EVO and was billed as “the first Sunday underground comic paper.”

Along the way, I developed a nice email friendship with veteran Alex Gross. I’m currently reading his memoir, The Untold 60s: When Hope Was Born: An Insider’s Sixties on an International Scale. It’s a huge book, approaching 700 pages, but it’s a fast, enjoyable read, taking on his adventures in England, Germany, and the United States, including his time with East Village Other and London’s first underground paper, International Times (a.k.a. IT).

Another major paper to come on board was Southern Patriot, published by legendary civil rights organizer Anne Braden. I got the okay from her son, who is her estate executor. Along with Independent Voices, we are developing other Civil Rights- and Vietnam-era digital collections, including the archives of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the archives of the Highlander Center, and the news packets and photos of Liberation News Service. Having connected to Jim Braden, we’re now talking about creating the Anne Braden Digital Archives. Just in the talking stage so far but exciting to me.

Meanwhile, speaking of the East Village Other, I should mention that three new literary publications that have recently come on board are Yardbird Reader, Y’Bird, and Quilt, all co-published by EVO co-founder Ishmael Reed, who gave me the okay.

Other recent additions to the literary collection: Reflections from Chapel Hill, Personal Injury, Fire Exit, Not Guilty, d.a. levy’s The Marrahwanna Quarterly, and the feminist Earth’s Daughters.

And then I topped off the week by getting the okay from Tessa Koning-Martinez, daughter of Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, to include El Grito del Norte (The Northern Call), an important bi-lingual (Spanish and English) paper from New Mexico, co-founded by Betita and attorney Beverly Axelrod, that covered news of the Chicano movement, workers’ struggles, and Latino political prisoners from 1968 to 1973). I thank Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for connecting me to Tessa.

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10 Responses

  1. You might be interested in my oral history with Karin Berg in 1999 or 2000. I recorded a couple of tapes with her, about her CORE activities, & her life. They’re in my collection at Columbia University. They are charging $75 per tape, for digitization so that people can listen to them. But if you will digitize the interview & do a transcript, I’m hoping something can be worked out. I also have an interview with Bobbie Brown Knabble (in 2000?, in Boston). Bobbie was Karin’s roommmate & friend in the CORE years. Bobbie became Marvin Rich’s secretary in CORE’s National Office, after she married.

  2. Sheila, thanks so much for your offer. At present, oral histories are not part of the scope of the SNCC project, where this material would most closely belong, so I don’t think we can use it. However, I will keep your offer in mind if we ever move onto a CORE digital collection. Much appreciated.

  3. Just curious, as I would absolutely love to immerse myself in reading copies of EVO’s, where can I find them online? Or will they be made available to the general public in the near future?

  4. Thanks for asking. We digitized the entire run (or at least every issue we could find; I don’t know if we missed any) early last year and then somehow actually uploading them slipped through the cracks so they never got uploaded. As a result of your query, I received a commitment that they will be included in the next batch of titles to be uploaded so it should be within the next three weeks. Check our website at voices.revealdigital.com and get back to me with any further questions. Although not all titles are open access yet–which means you can only access them if you are a patron of one of our supporting libraries–at my request EVO will be one that is. (Any title that appears in red is open access now.) So as soon as it is uploaded you will be able to view the complete run. Please get the word out, as I will do when I receive confirmation.

    • Thank you so much for your response! Really looking forward to reading these, used to have copies laying all around my house when I was a kid growing up and the trip down nostalgia lane will be quite a treat. Thank you again, to you and everyone else involved in making all of these extremely important papers available.

  5. It’s my pleasure but it’s also become my mission. Especially in these crazy times when people question (rightly) the corporate media, we have to remember that there is an independent media. Also, we did a lot right back when, as well as some righteous craziness. Today, it is invaluable to study the lessons and learn from them.

  6. Thank you does not seem sufficient. I used to subscribe to EVO in the late 60’s and forward. I still do have some actual paper copies. They have traveled with me for nearly a half century. I look forward to reliving, renewing, and reinvigorating while going over these issues – especially as you say in these crazy times. My thanks to you and all the others that made this treasure available for those that knew it, and for those yet to discover it.

  7. Thank you for the kind words, Charles. It was a mission that is still not finished. We’re still uploading titles even as we’re building our Music Magazine Archive Series–beginning with Rock, Folk, and Hip Hop and Rap–for sister company NA Publishing. Our goals are to preserve these titles, which are yellowing and starting to crumble around the edges; and make them accessible to current and future generations of readers, who gravitate to electronic but ignore the special collections of libraries that we used to consider hallowed ground. I don’t know offhand if our EVO collection is complete. If you see that any are missing and you have copies, please let me know.

    • hi ken
      sorry for the delay, i did manage to find the treasured issues. most are already listed. i believe i have two that are not in your list, v7#2 and v6#42.. you may already have them but not yet uploaded. i also found one without a date – it may have been an insert and the cover says “its the real thing” with pictures of coke bottle.

      when you get a chance send a private email so you can help me get copies to you. thanks!

  8. Charles, this is great news. Thanks. I just confirmed from my scanning team that we do need those issues. In a minute, I will send you an email and introduce you to Jackie from my scanning team. Thanks again.

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