Our new visual podcast series takes you behind the scenes of the work, collections, and programs of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
- To watch the visual podcast, visit our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/beineckelibraryatyale
- To listen to audio only, visit our SoundCloud channel: https://soundcloud.com/beineckelibrary
In this inaugural episode, Tubyez Cropper, communications associate at the library, talks with Michael Rush, assistant head of the manuscript unit for accessioning. Mike shares insights his work in the library, how he first got interested in libraries and archival work, and shares details about the John Holmstrom papers and Punk magazine records (GEN MSS 951).
John Holmstrom (1954-) is an American writer and cartoonist. A founding editor of Punk magazine, Holmstrom also worked for publications including The Village Voice, Heavy Metal, and High Times. Punk Magazine Punk magazine was created by John Holmstrom, Ged Dunn, and Legs McNeill in 1975. Fifteen issues were published between 1976 and 1979, with a special issue in 1981 and additional issues published in the 2000s.
As Rush says, among its many holdings that document aspects of human culture from millennia ago down to the present day, the Beinecke Library collects “a lot of materials around contemporary culture, particularly counterculture.” He notes, “Punk Magazine really was a great chronicle of the Punk scene in New York and the broader scene as punk spread to the UK, and they began to encounter the Sex Pistols. That’s exactly the kind of stuff that we love. This first person account of a very notorious moment in musical and cultural history.
This collection at the Beinecke Library consists of correspondence, writings, photographs, maquettes, printed materials, posters, ephemera, audiovisual materials, artwork, and other records relating to Punk Magazine and John Holmstrom.
To view a detailed description of the Holmstrom papers and Punk magazine records, visit Archives at Yale: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.punk
Tubyez Cropper (TC): Hello everybody. Welcome to the first Beinecke visual podcast. I am your host, Tubyez Cropper, a communication associate here at the Beinecke Library. Today I am here with one of our Beinecke staff, Mike Rush
Michael Rush (MR): Hey Tubyez
TC: How are you?
MR: Good. How are you?
TC: I am going to be talking to various Beinecke staff members, as they go through some of their favorite items in the vast collection that we have here. Mike, why don’t you give us a quick rundown about what you do at the Beinecke, how long you’ve been at the Beinecke.
MR: I’ve been at the Beinecke for 15 years. I came here in 2005. My current role (my title) is Assistant Head of the Manuscript Unit for Accessioning. So, I oversee the staff that is responsible for receiving and initial processing of all of our manuscript collections. That can span from medieval manuscripts up to 21st century born digital records, photography, artwork. You name it, and the collections probably have some of it in it.
TC: Great. Just before we get into the actual item, what got you into this line of work? What brought you to the Beinecke?
MR: It’s a stereotypical story. I was a history and English major as an undergraduate, and I worked in the library at the University of Connecticut. When I was getting close to graduation, talking to people, I thought “Maybe I’d like to work in a library,” and they said “You’re a history major maybe you should go talk to the archivists,” and I said, “An archivist? What’s an archivist?” So, i went over to the university archives and spoke with the archivists, and she said, “Ok, why don’t you come in and process a collection,” and so I did. And, in the way that you can only do when you’re 21 years old, “Ok, I’ll do this for the rest of my life.” So, I went to grad school at Simmons College, and my first job was at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. There, I became quite adept with —- description, which is an encoding standard for archival metadata. That’s really the skill that brought me here to the Beinecke. So, I worked with our finding aids and our finding aid databases for the first five or six years that I was here, before I transitioned into my current role.
TC: So, what do you have for us today?
MR: So, we have (at the Beinecke) the archives of John Holmstrom and Punk Magazine. John Holmstrom was one of the creators of Punk Magazine in the mid-70s, and they were primary chroniclers of the New York punk scene. In January 1978, the Sex Pistols came over from England and did a tour over the United States. It was organized by Malcolm McLaren, their manager. The tour really exploded the band and they essentially broke up right afterwards. This is the diary that John Holmstrom kept while he was following ther band for a bit.
TC: So, why was this the item that you decided to pick out?
MR: Well it’s music and a time that I love and it was a collection that I was involved with accessioning and processing. So, it’s something that I’m personally connected to and interested in that time and those people. And it’s evocative of the moment.
TC: Why don’t we open it up and read a few of the pages in there.
MR: So I’m going to read a few selections before and after the Sex Pistols played in Tulsa. I think this first passage, he’s waiting for the show to start.
“Tulsa, the real America. Kids are sitting waiting for the show. No booze. Jesus freaks outside. Show is late. 11:00- No Pistols. Alice Cooper on the PA then reggae. A few people moved their seats. Slowly everyone does. Tamest bunch yet.
And then he goes through a variety of notes during the show. I like this page. It’s from the end of the show.
Steve- “This is our last number. It’s called Anarchy in the USA. People leave in droves. Half leave. Half stay. Applause like at a Led Zeppelin concert. D-U-L-L dull.”
Then it continues after the show, and this is great.
“Sid at party with TV. ‘How does it feel to be part of the of barkin’ band Paul?’ Says he’s 20 years old. Wants to die before he’s 25. Roadie in cab. ‘I got these guys all figured out. Sid is just a dumb kid. Steve is a sex maniac. Johnny wants to be a superstar and Paul is just an idiot.”
TC: What is your take on all of these notes? The fact that he actually had a journal that he wrote in.
MR: He’s there as a publisher and a journalist so he needed content for the magazine. It captures the collision between the band and middle American culture and the tension between them as well. It must’ve been quite a scene to be a part of for a few days.
TC: This is definitely a more fun item that the Beinecke has in the collection. I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know things like this exist.
MR: We collect a lot of materials around contemporary culture, particularly counterculture. Punk Magazine really was a great chronicle of the Punk scene in New York and the broader scene as punk spread to the UK, and they began to encounter the Sex Pistols. That’s exactly the kind of stuff that we love. This first person account of a very notorious moment in musical and cultural history.
TC: It’s good for the general public to know that it’s not just medieval manuscripts and large, grand books.
MR: It’s not just names you read in high school. It’s the people you listen to and the people who are engaged in changing culture in really concrete ways.
TC: For the people looking at this podcast, and maybe wanting to do some research here at the Beinecke, is there any advice that you may have for them to find things like this? If you look at the database, it is quite overwhelming
MR: We have our finding aid database and our catalog. There are lots of ways that they can look. It helps to know the names of the people who have been involved in the time. We try to capture that as best we can.
TC: We definitely advise that you just come and explore it all. You can never have too much. So, is there any other things that you’d like to say about researching at the Beinecke or generally visiting the Beinecke?
MR: I’d just like to reiterate that we’re here for people to come and visit and do research. Obviously, we have our wonderful exhibitions upstairs and people should check that out, but there’s so so so much more for people to come and research. It takes a little bit of prep and you should know what you want to see, but we do welcome people and want them to feel like they can partake in the richness of the collection.
TC: That’s going to end the first visual podcast. We will see you next time with our next guest. Thank you, Mike.