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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Old Things: Brooklyn Bullfighter Sidney Franklin

Thanks to a generous grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, the BAM Hamm Archives started acquiring BAM-related materials, and it's a blast because the diversity of materials out there is mind blowing. For 150 years, BAM has been the kind of place where Gertrude Stein would appear the same week as Winnie the Pooh...

BAM members ticket, Wed, Nov 21, 1934
I’ll be honest—at first I was a little apprehensive about launching into acquisitions. We already have over 3000 linear feet of a largely hidden, mostly uncatalogued collection. On the other hand, we lost many treasures in the 1903 fire and the 1977 flood.

I began by buying things on ebay, but I found myself losing every bid to Ronald Feiner—who, it turns out, is a board member at BAM. Once we got that straightened out, I let Ron win and now he loans us items from his collection.

We also work with Rodger, a rare book dealer who locates things at ephemera shows and from other dealers.

Rodger, our dealer
Rodger found this amazing souvenir program from a 1930s lecture given by Sidney Franklin, Brooklyn’s only Jewish, gay matador. If that weren't enough, it turns out Ernest Hemingway was his buddy and he did a movie with Eddie Cantor!

Sidney Franklin filmed this movie in 1932 a few months after he appeared at BAM:

This is when we shamelessly ask you to go into your parents' or grandparents' basements and attics (or your own) and look for anything related to BAM. 150 years is a very long time and I know there is more fascinating stuff out there. Can you help us find it?


  1. "Brooklyn’s only Jewish, gay matador" seems like a title that wouldn't be too hard to hold, but the question I have, is how did you find out that he was Jewish and gay as it doesn't seem evident through the materials you have here :)

  2. Hi cg
    Thanks so much for reading and for your interest! We love questions. If you would like to learn more about Sidney Franklin you can click on the link in the post that will take you to the American Jewish Historical Society Finding Aid. Franklins biographer, Bart Paul, claims that Franklin led a “closeted gay life.” There are a number of references to Fanklins sexuality in biographies linked to within the finding aid--