Ina Clausen (center), 1957, Prospect Park, Brooklyn.
With the inauguration of Donald Trump in January, it seems that we have entered a renewed moment in the public sphere, with each week defined by protests, community meetings, and urgent calls to contact your elected officials. This moment, however, is not so very brand new -- there is of course a long and varied history of protest movements and resistance both in the United States and abroad. Given the current political climate, I thought it would be appropriate to mine the Brooklyn Collection for some local precedent.
I turned to one of my favorite special collections, the Ina Clausen Collection, for inspiration. A bit about the collection’s namesake, Ina, according to our online finding aid: Ina Clausen was born February 21, 1943 to Einar Clausen and Linda Hansen Clausen in Brooklyn, NY. She attended the Prospect Heights High School, where she was on the art staff of her high school’s publication, the Cardinal. Clausen graduated in 1960. In the late 1960s Clausen co-founded a women’s collective print shop at 573 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn. The shop was called the Greenpoint Print Shop, and was supported by donations of equipment from David Dellinger, who published Liberation Magazine in New Jersey. At the print shop, Clausen designed and printed materials for several local activist groups, including the Southern Conference Educational Fund, the Southside Community of Greenpoint, the National Association for Irish Freedom, Yellow Pearl (an Asian-American organization based in Chinatown), Los Tintos Indios, a Red Hook-based Puerto Rican group, and several women’s liberation groups. Clausen served as president of the Greenpoint Print Shop until late 1972, when she and the other officers all resigned and turned the corporation over to another group. During this period and beyond, Clausen participated in local activist organizations, including the Flatbush Committee to End the War in Vietnam. She also designed and published informational packets to educate women about the Women’s Liberation Movement. Her work in this movement included contributions to the feminist journal Up from Under, which focused on working women.
Let’s take a look at some of the flyers, pamphlets and journals in this collection and hopefully walk away with some inspiration from ticked-off Brooklynites of the past.
Flyers from the Flatbush Committee to End the War in Vietnam.
Call for a Coney Island Boycott, 4 July 1968. "Don't risk being herded behind gates like dogs."
Cover of Feelings from Women’s Liberation magazine, which Ina helped to design and publish. This periodical focused on creative writing and poetry authored by women participating in the movement.
Poem entitled “I am a Sandwich” from Feelings magazine, written by prominent feminist Shulamith Firestone. Text reads:
I turn into your sandwich
A fat one
Of pinklayered ham,
Of slicky kosher
A squished mound
But sometimes I can only make
A flat little hamburger
Needing too much ketchup,
Or a BLT on toast,
And falling apart,
But well mayonnaised
For all that.
On rich days
For 10c extra,
I add the red dream
Of a libby tomato."
At the Greenpoint Print Shop, Ina published another more overtly political magazine entitled Up From Under. The Brooklyn Collection owns six editions of this periodical, which features long articles from different voices in the movement, as well as practical how-to’s for women and satirical cartoons or advertisements. Some selections from those editions:
Up From Under cover, Volume 1, No. 4, 1971.
"Somehow we survive."
"I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there, and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator." - Mother Jones, Labor organizer circa 1900
Activism for women in prisons.
Dissemination as a community effort.
A practical how-to on changing a lightbulb. Others in this series include: fixing a flat tire, fixing a toilet, etc.
And this is only the beginning of the inspiration! The Ina Clausen collection is available upon request through the Brooklyn Collection.
Happy belated birthday, Ina!