Arden Eversmeyer was born on April 4, 1931, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. She moved with her parents and younger sister to Dallas, Texas in 1943. After high school, she attended Texas State College for Women, earning a B.S. in Health and Physical Education. In 1964, she received her Master’s in Education from Sam Houston State University.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Arden became a public school teacher. She worked in schools for 30 years, teaching Health and Physical Education and serving as a Secondary Counselor. In her early 20s, she met her first partner, Tommie. They were together for 33 years. Beginning in the 1960s, Arden joined a local Civic Club and became involved in community activism. When Tommie died of cancer in 1985, Arden openly devoted herself to promoting lesbian rights.
For over thirty years, Arden has built community and developed resources for elderly lesbians. She served six years as a Mayoral appointee to the Area Agency on Aging. In 1987, she founded Lesbians Over Age Fifty (LOAF). LOAF provides safe spaces to meet and socialize with other lesbians. Arden soon realized many of her friends were aging and dying. She started collecting their life stories, hoping to preserve their wisdom and experiences. She soon expanded her efforts, gathering stories from lesbians across Houston. In 1998 she founded the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project (OLOHP). Since then, she has interviewed over 650 lesbians 70 years or older and published two books chronicling their tales.
Before starting the oral herstory project, Arden was involved with Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC). OLOC is a national organization that brings together older lesbian activists to work for social justice and equality for elderly lesbians. Arden was on the steering committee for 14 years and, in 2000, they agreed to support OLOHP. As a sponsor, OLOC helps Arden’s herstory project raise money and find more women willing to share their stories.
In 1987 Arden met Charlotte, whom she married in 2008. Partners for over 30 years, the two travelled and collected interviews together. Charlotte passed away in April, 2018. The Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project and its archives are now housed at Smith College, where new stories continue to be added.
Arden Eversmeyer at age 2, Wisconsin, circa 1933.Arden Eversmeyer at age 4, Wisconsin, circa 1935.Arden Eversmeyer with family, Wisconsin.Arden Eversmeyer at age 16, Texas, circa 1947.Tommie Russum was Arden Eversmeyer’s partner for 33 years from 1952 - 1985.Arden Eversmeyer at age 30, Texas, circa 1961.Arden Eversmeyer (age 61) and partner Charlotte Avery (age 62), circa 1990.Arden Eversmeyer served as a docent with the Houston Zoological Gardens for 23 years from 1981-2004.Arden Eversmeyer with her spouse Charlotte Avery.Houston Mayor Lee Brown (front row seated, far right) appointed Arden Eversmeyer (back row, 2nd from left) to the Houston Area Agency on Aging from 2000-2006.Arden Eversmeyer helps to build the float for the 2012 Houston Pride Parade.Arden Eversmeyer honored at the Lesbians Over the Age of Fifty (L.O.A.F) 25th Anniversary celebration with Mayor Annise Parker, 2012.Arden Eversmeyer with Mayor Annise Parker at “Celebrating our Lesbian Legacies” event at the Old Lesbian Oral History Project Symposium, 2013.Kathy, Bonnie, Phyllis, Mayor Annise Parker, Arden Eversmeyer, Lillian, Mary, Margaret, and Pokey at “Celebrating our Lesbian Legacies” event at the Old Lesbian Oral History Project Symposium, 2013.Arden Eversmeyer receives the Women’s Trailblazer Award from the Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., 2014.Arden Eversmeyer (age 86) with Marion Coleman (age 81) as two of three Honorary Grand Marshals for the 2017 Pride Parade, Houston, TX.
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