(Northampton) Local LGBT History Talk

  • 05 Feb 2012
  • 3:00 PM
  • Northampton, MA
The Sexual Minorities Archives, a national collection of LGBT literature, history, and art located in Northampton, Massachusetts, is launching a series of educational presentations about gender non-conforming persons and same-sex couples who lived or worked in the city in the early 1900s. “Stories of Our LGBT Ancestors” is based on original research conducted at the Archives, local libraries, historical societies, and city records offices by board members of the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation (SMEF), Inc. and student interns.

The first of three presentations will offer historical information, images and text about Anna de Naucaze, Marie Von Veltheim, and Ye Rose Tree Inn, which the couple owned and operated at 252 Bridge Street, Northampton, from 1908 to 1923. Co-sponsored by Transcending Gender,  the Smith College Study of Women and Gender Department, and The Rainbow Times, the talk is scheduled for February 5, at 3:00 p.m. in the Carroll Room at the Smith College Campus Center, 100 Elm Street. 

An actress who moved to Northampton from New York City, de Naucaze was a prominent businessperson and mover-and-shaker here, also editing and publishing a widely read magazine, 4 ALL. The publication voiced de Naucaze’s views on a range of topics from women’s suffrage, war, and gender roles to Northampton politics. Starting in 1917, de Naucaze regularly wrote letters to the editor in The Daily Hampshire Gazette, also to be examined in the talk co-presented by Bet Power, executive director of SMEF, Inc. and Elizabeth Kent, Smith College senior.

de Naucaze defied gender norms - especially for the time period - by owning a business and publishing a magazine independently of men, as well as with her masculine style of dress and likely sexual relationships with women. Ye Rose Tree Inn was a popular tearoom for a primarily female clientele including Smith College students until de Naucaze was financially devastated in 1923. The Inn’s closing was due, in large part, to being removed from the college’s list of approved eating-places by then Smith College president William Allan Neilson. 

“We have gathered all the scattered pieces about Anna and Marie, who opened a restaurant in Northampton,” said Bet Power. “Anna wore masculine clothing and haircut, and many people wondered whether this was a man or a woman. Marie was the chef who prepared delicious menus. Marie and Anna had a romantic relationship, and Anna nicknamed Marie ‘the Virago.’ Anna eventually adopted an infant girl with another woman. When was this - in 2008? How about 1908?” Power said.

Planned for later in 2012, two more “Stories of Our LGBT Ancestors” will focus on Marion Turner of Florence (early 1900s), and Dr. Amber Starbuck and Mabel Stevens of Middlefield (1920s). The February 5 event will include Ye Rose Tree Inn-inspired sweets and a 50/50 raffle to benefit SMEF, Inc., a pending non-profit organization. Admission is $10 general, $5 seniors and students, and free for ages 18 and under. Everyone is invited. For more information, email
sexualminorities.archives@yahoo.com or call (413) 584-7616.
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