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Donna Mae Stemmer photographs and ephemera

 Collection
Identifier: Ms-Coll-42
The Donna Mae Stemmer collection includes thousands of 3 1/2 x 5 in. and 4 x 6 in. color photographs of Stemmer dressed in nearly as many outfits. Mostly taken in her home, they highlight Stemmer's vast wardrobe and love for fashion. In addition to these, there are also photographs from bars, restaurants, pride parades and sporting events. Some photos include friends of Stemmer as well as performers in drag. A small number of photos are identified including those taken at the "Westbury Bar and Restaurant," the "Venture Inn," "Roxy's birthday," the "Lambda Awards," "Les Miz," the "Fuschia Gown Trial," "Atlantic Citya," "Karley's," "Prom," "Halloween at Venture Inn," "New Hope," and "George and Maria's Wedding." Most of those which are identified are from 1987-1988. Some photographs are time and date stamped giving a range of 1999-2010. A small number of photographs are from as early as 1981. In addition to the photographs there are some personal documents, LGBT material, ephemera, and two articles of clothing selected from Stemmer's wardrobe at Philly AIDS Thrift following her death.

Dates

  • 1981 - 2010

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may exist. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives of the William Way LGBT Community Center.

Extent

4 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Overview

Donna Mae Stemmer was a lawyer, Korean War veteran, fashion icon, and trans activist from Pennsauken, New Jersey. The collection includes thousands of 3 1/2 x 5 in. and 4 x 6 in. color photographs of Stemmer dressed in nearly as many outfits, as well as personal documents, LGBT material, ephemera, and two articles of clothing from Stemmer's wardrobe.

Biographical / Historical

Donna Mae Stemmer was a lawyer, Korean War veteran, fashion icon, and trans activist from Pennsauken, New Jersey. Born Donald R. Stemmer (April 29, 1933) in Brooklyn, New York, to parents Ellen Johnston and Joseph Stemmer, she was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University Law School. Stemmer served in the U.S. Army for more than 30 years, serving in the Korean War, and attaining the rank of Lt. Colonel. She was decorated 25 times, including receiving a Distinguished Service Award and Commemorative Medal in 2008. She was known in the Philadelphia area for her long-time support of the City of Brotherly Love Softball League (CBLSL) and was a member of the Key West Wolves team. Recognized for her myriad cheerleader outfits, she received the CBLSL Steve Lehman Community Service Award in 2008. Stemmer lobbied Arlington National Cemetery in 2008 for the right to use her female name on her headstone, but her petition was denied. She died on June 23, 2015 and is buried in Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery for veterans in Wrightstown, N.J. where her tombstone reads "Donald R. Stemmer."

Related Materials

Additional photographs from Stemmer's collection and parts of her wardrobe are maintained by Philly AIDS Thrift, Philadelphia, PA.
Title
Donna Mae Stemmer photographs and ephemera, 1981-2010
Status
completed
Author
John Anderies
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center Repository

Contact:
1315 Spruce Street
Philadelphia PA 19107
215-732-2220