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Committee for the Eradication of Syphilis records

 Collection
Identifier: Coll2012-129

Scope and Contents

Administrative records, articles of incorporation, correspondence, awards and recognitions, bumper stickers, event flyers, programs, "Get the Facts" 16mm film, newspaper clippings, photographs, poster, and an embosser from the Committee for the Eradication of Syphilis, Inc. (CES), 1967-1976. Founded in 1967 by Vernon C. Mitchell in West Hollywood, California, The Committee for the Eradication of Syphilis was "dedicated to a venereal disease free community" and became the first free health clinic for homosexuals with sexually transmitted diseases. The collection also includes personal papers and photographs of gay activist and gay health advocate, Vernon C. Mitchell, including news clippings and photographs related to Boys Market in Marina del Rey, California, and the discrimination case with Gloria Allred.

Dates

  • 1966-1995

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Administrative History

The Committee for the Eradication of Syphilis, Inc. (CES) was founded in 1967 by Vernon C. Mitchell in Los Angeles, California. CES was the first free clinic for homosexuals with sexually transmitted infections (STI). CES was honored by various city, county and state entities in California for community involvement and accomplishment in venereal disease awareness.

Mitchell of CES regarded STI control as "one of the most challenging social problems of our time - the most frustrating because we have the technique for control but ignorance and apathy hinder us."

Under Mitchell's tutelage, CES employed techniques such as bumper stickers ("Stamp Out Syphilis"), business cards ("Love Needs Care - Check VD") and posters in cocktail lounges, restaurants, beauty salons and barber shops to increase public awareness of the issue.

The Committee for the Eradication of Syphilis, Inc. was instrumental, along with a few other health organizations, in advocating for the approval of California Legislature Resolution Number 201, declaring April 1971 to be "Venereal Disease Awareness Month." Mitchell and the committee also campaigned for an amendment to state law that would permit minors to obtain STI diagnosis and treatment without parental consent.

Sources: Greenwood, N. (1968, February 11). Free VD clinic called success despite deficit. Times Mirror Square, p. 1.

Biography

Vernon "Mitch" Mitchell was born Clarence Vernon Mitchell on December 18, 1926 in Los Angeles, California.

During World War II, Mitchell served on a U.S. Navy underwater demolition team, combing for submarine mines and planting bombs on enemy vessels. He was one of the first Americans to see Japan after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also served during the Korean War and worked as an aerospace administrator with Hughes Aircraft.

Mitchell was a longtime supporter of gay causes and an activist who in 1967 founded the Committee for Eradication of Syphilis, Inc. (CES), the first free clinic for homosexuals with sexually transmitted infections in Los Angeles, California. As president of CES, Mitchell was honored for his effort in 1971 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

In 1985, Mitchell and two friends were shopping in a Boys Market in Marina del Rey when an employee addressed them over the loudspeaker, "Faggots, get out of the market and don't come back!" Mitchell and his friends, with the support of legal activist Gloria Allred, sued the market. In 1987, as part of a settlement, the market publicly apologized and company officials said they would update an employee handbook to forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In 1987, he helped organize the Los Angeles gay community for The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. He and a friend printed banners and posters for the march. The banner was then donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

An outspoken voice for sexual freedom, Mitchell focused his organizing talents on civil rights for gays, abortion rights for women and increased public awareness of AIDS and STIs. Mitchell also appeared in several television documentaries concerning STIs. He raised funds to support AIDS awareness campaigns by re-selling items in garage sales.

Mitchell died of AIDS related complications on December 21, 1991 at the age of 65 in his home in Marina del Rey, California.

Sources: Yarnall, L. (1991, December 24). Prominent gay activist, Vernon Mitchell, dies 65 of AIDS. The Outlook, p. A14. Obituaries (1991, December 26).

Vernon C. Mitchell; Activist, supporter of gay causes. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/print/1991-12-26/news/mn-1288_1_sexually-transmitted-diseases

Extent

0.4 Linear Feet (1 box.)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

Administrative records, articles of incorporation, correspondence, awards and recognitions, bumper stickers, event flyers, programs, photographs and other materials, 1966-1995, from the Committee for the Eradication of Syphilis (CES); as well as personal papers and photographs from CES founder, Vernon C. Mitchell. CES was the first free clinic in Los Angeles for homosexuals with sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Arrangement

This collecton is arranged alphabetically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor and method of acquisition unknown.

Processing Information

Formerly housed in box #103-308. Collection processed by Dione Surdez Oliver, March 2016.
Title
Finding aid to the Committee for the Eradication of Syphilis records,1966-1995
Status
Completed
Author
Dione Surdez Oliver
Date
© 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

Contact:
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771