The collection documents a working class "gay" bar, the Shamrock Bar, Bluefield, West Virginia, 1997-2000, through photographs and oral history interviews.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of Carol Burch-Brown's photographs (200 photoprints, mostly silver gelatin on fiber-base paper, but including more than a dozen digital prints), copies of tape-recorded interviews (on 26 compact discs), and transcripts of interviews (3 volumes plus a compact disc containing Word files) made at the Shamrock Bar, Bluefield, West Virginia, 1997-2002, documenting a working-class gay bar. The photographs include "drag" performances, pageants, and other activities at the bar. Many show performers applying makeup and donning costumes, including the use of prosthetic breasts. Pictures taken in the bar are often in a soft-focus, slightly blurred, high-contrast, impressionistic style. There are a number of sharp-focus portraits, however, and exterior views of the building, its neighborhood, and the town are sharply focused, detailed documentary images.
Names (usually pseudonyms or stage names) which turn up in the interviews include: Natasha Michaels, Nikki Eaves, Shea West, Cortney Collins, Taylor Made, India Dream, Clinton, Tiffany Aver, Terba Devero, Roxie Morehead, and Dorothy. The performer "Bunny" is actually the photographer's friend and colleague, Ann Kilkelly. Many of these persons are also shown in the photographs, as is Helen Compton.
Note: The audio compact disks are not original recordings, and may be played by researchers directly.
The collection is divided into three series.
Series 1: Photoprints
Series 2: Text (including transcripts of interviews)
Series 3: Compact discs
Carol Burch-Brown is Professor of Art and Humanities at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, and is a photographer, painter, and musician. Photographer and co-author with David Rigsbee, Trailers, University Press of Virginia, 1996.
During its heyday, the Shamrock Bar in Bluefield, West Virginia was a gathering place for gays and lesbians. The photographer reported in March 2003, before donating this collection, that Miss Helen Compton, proprietor of the Shamrock, had died and the establishment had been closed.
It's Reigning Queens in Appalachia
Colection donated by Carol Burch-Brown, December 2003.
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Reproduction restricted due to copyright. Requests will be referred to the photographer.
Series 8: Business Records, Subseries 8.1: Studio Session Registers are restricted. Digital copies available for research. See repository for details.
Listing of photo orders.
Series 8: Business Records, Subseries 8.1: Studio Session Registers are restricted. Digital copies available for research. See repository for details..
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Ledgers (account books) -- 20th century
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
The collection was acquired with assistance from the Eugene Meyer Foundation. Elihu and Susan Rose and the Save America's Treasures program, provided funds to stabilize, organize, store, and create digital surrogates of some of the negatives. Processing and encoding funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.