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Michal Makarovich oral history collection documenting gay history in Baltimore

Identifier: MS-0856

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Content Description

This collection includes recordings of oral history interviews conducted by Johns Hopkins University alum Michal Makarovich with members of Baltimore’s gay community about the evolution of Baltimore gay bars. Participants interviewed are Bob Eckert, Reg Diffenderfer, Duane Schline, Thayne Williams, David Lehman, and members of the band the Rock-a-Jets. The interviews primarily discuss gay culture and community in Baltimore City between the 1940s and 1970s. The collection also includes black and white photographs, newspaper clippings, and printed ephemera collected during Makarovich's research.


  • Creation: 1982 - 2018


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is subject to access restrictions. Please contact Special Collections for additional information if you would like to access the interviews.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Michal Makarovich is a resident of Baltimore, Maryland. Upon retiring from his twenty-one year teaching career at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Maryland, Makarovich opened a store called Gustafson's on The Avenue (36th Street) in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore in 1995. The store sells unique and vintage merchandise, and its name was later changed to Hampden Junque. In the 1990s, Makarovich conducted interviews with gay senior citizens in Baltimore, which he'd planned to use to write an article or book about the early gay history of Baltimore bars.

Biographical / Historical

There are a few gay bars and clubs that are regularly mentioned by participants in these oral history interviews. One is Leon's on Park Avenue in Mount Vernon, which is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in Baltimore. The bar's current name comes from Leon Lampe, who owned the bar during the 1930s. The bar has operated as a gay bar since 1957 and utilized a password at the door. It is still open at the time of this writing.

Another frequenly mentioned venue is the Pepper Hill Club, which was located at 200 North Gay Street in Baltimore and co-owned by Victor Lance and Morton Cohen. This club is the subject of an infamous police raid which occurred there in October of 1955, wherein the Baltimore City Police Vice Squad shuttled over one hundred arrested people to the nearby police station. A law was passed the next year banning such raids.

Sources: "Leon's Bar in Baltimore Celebrates 60 Years." Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. April 26, 2017. Accessed May 23, 2019.

Rector, Kevin. "Welcome to Gay Matters." December 10, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2019.

Biographical / Historical

The Roc-A-Jets was one of the earliest all-girl bands in Baltimore, formed in 1956 by the original members Jo Kelly, the lead guitarist, and Jan Morrison, the lead singer. The band eventually grew to include lead drummer Edie Lippincott, who would alternate playing with Carla Mandley. The band was known for wearing suits that were considered men's clothing at the time, a style they self-describe as "butch." In doing so, the band became a trailblazer in the social scene for gay women in the 1950s, creating a space in which people felt comfortable to be themselves that didn't previously exist. Fans would emulate their style, often changing out of dresses or "women's clothing" and into shirts and slacks upon arriving at their shows. The band faced discrimination and violence from community members and the Baltimore City Police Vice Squad. The band remained active through the mid-1990s.


1 Gigabytes (Approximately 1 GB, 6 files.)

0.24 Cubic Feet (1 legal half-sized container)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of oral history interviews and printed materials collected primarily in the 1990s by Michal Makarovich, who researched the evolution of gay bars in Baltimore, Maryland.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The recordings in this collection are stored on a variety of multimedia formats including audio cassettes and a DVD.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Archives by Michal Marakovich in March 2019.

Existence and Location of Copies

The oral histories have been digitized and digital copies of the recordings exist offline.

Processing Information

Processed by Kristen Diehl in May 2019.


Guide to the Michal Makarovich oral history collection documenting gay history in Baltimore
Kristen Diehl
2019 May
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA