LGBT Rights Movement: Collections

Over the last two decades, there have been incredible strides toward securing equal rights for LGBTQ people. These recent steps forward are the result of the incredible momentum generated by LGBTQ rights groups in the twentieth century. The collections listed below represent a treasure trove of documentation covering the most active and influential LGBTQ rights organizations of the twentieth century. With these collections, researchers have been able to compare the viewpoints of various organizations as they evolved over the last century.
  • Gay Activism in Britain from 1958: The Hall-Carpenter Archives

    This collection of materials is taken from the Hall-Carpenter Archives, which documents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activism in the United Kingdom. Spanning the period from 1958 to 1990, this collection chronicles the activities of the Albany Trust, an organization that was initially focused on decriminalizing homosexuality and increasing social acceptance of homosexual people.

    This collection includes a wide variety of materials related to the organization and its activities. There are internal documents, such as reports, financial papers, meeting minutes, and correspondence. The collection contains publications and public relations work from the Albany Trust, including its newsletters, journals, and pamphlets. Publicity, annual reports, and correspondence from other organizations illustrate the alliances that Albany Trust formed, and in some cases, document the work of organizations that opposed the Trust. 

    Although the Albany Trust as it exists today fills a different role than it did mid-century, its presence from the beginnings of the LGBT rights movement in the UK offers a targeted view into the time period. This collection provides essential documentation of the decriminalization of homosexuality and the progression of LGBT rights in the United Kingdom.

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  • Gay and Lesbian Politics and Social Activism: Selected Newsletters and Periodicals

    In 1982, community historians in San Francisco established permanent archives documenting the Bay Area’s homosexual history. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society's collection now encompasses more than 3,000 issues of periodicals, newspapers, newsletters, and journals that trace the evolution of LGBT rights, identities, pride, and politics from 1947 to 2004. 

    The documents included here focus on political and social activism of the early years of homosexual journalism. The collection contains issues of Vice Versa, the first lesbian periodical in the United States, and newsletters and journals of the country’s first lesbian rights group, the Daughters of Bilitis, and its first LGBT rights organization, the Mattachine Society. Scholars interested in the international LGBT rights movement throughout the 1950s and 1960s will find publications from France, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

    This collection includes numerous periodicals focused on specific groups of people. It contains lesbian feminist journals from various US cities as well as German-speaking countries. The first periodicals about transgender issues, dating from 1952, are here as well. Bay Area publications for homosexuals of color are well represented, including periodicals for Latina and Native American women; LGBT African Americans; lesbians of African descent; Asian American women; and Asian American men. Newsletters from Black and White Men Together, an organization fighting racism and discrimination, span local chapters across the country.

    Scholars and those interested in LGBT studies, American studies, library and information science, communications, journalism, women's and gender studies, ethnic studies, and more, will benefit from this valuable collection.

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  • International Gay and Lesbian Periodicals and Newsletters

    This collection of international periodicals, newspapers, and newsletters provides a glimpse into the history of the LGBT rights movement from the 1950s to the first decade of the twenty-first century. While the United States also played a crucial role in the gay rights movement, this collection brings LGBTQ movements from other parts of the world into focus. 

    This collection showcases the exchange of information related to AIDS research in Canada and elsewhere. In 1983, the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) published its first newsletter, ACT (Activities) Bulletin. Other titles included are the AIDS Network of Edmonton Newsletter (Canada), and AIDS Info (The Netherlands). Minority groups in Canada are represented by newsletters, such as Orientasian: The Bulletin of Gay Asians of Vancouver Area, and Khush Khayal, published from 1989 to 1996 by the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association. Publications like Black CAP Newsletter (Toronto) and Black Lesbian and Gay Centre Project Newsletter (London) served to address the needs and problems that specifically affected black LGBT people in their communities.

    The publications in this collection offer researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study and compare the gay rights and the social conditions of LGBT communities around the world since the 1950s.

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  • John Kyper Collection of Gay Liberation Ephemera & Publications

    This collection includes artifacts from the gay liberation movements in the United States and Mexico assembled by John Kyper, a member of the Faggots for Freedom Collective in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The materials here date from 1969 to 1988 and encompass conference papers, legal documents, and correspondence with well-known LGBT activists, such as Harvey Milk. Documents produced by gay liberation groups across the country are included, notably publications from the Gay Flames Collective, Red Butterfly, the Lavender and Red Union, and the Chicago Seed. Researchers can also find Kyper’s writings on the gay liberation movement in Mexico, as well as interviews, correspondence, photographs, and news clippings associated with gay rights activities in various Mexican locations.

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  • Lesbian Herstory Archives Newsletter Collection

    Compiled by grassroots activists whose motto is that “every lesbian life [is] a famous one,” the Lesbian Herstory Archive (LHA) is the oldest and largest lesbian archive in the world. The newsletters in this collection, originating from around the United States, provide a window into lesbian lives, communities, and activism from the 1950s to the first decade of the twenty-first century.

    In addition to being a vital tool of communication, newsletters were a place where organizers debated over Political and social ideas. The collection covers a range of political ideologies, from militant separatists like the Radicalesbians of Philadelphia to apolitical groups like the West Side Discussion Group of New York. There are debates about patriarchy, lesbian separatism, abortion, and sterilization abuse. Many discuss peace activism and the status of women around the world. But there are also newsletters from professional, religious, and spiritual organizations, including some that discuss family (like Columbus, Ohio’s Momazons) and others that cover feminist art, books, music, and entertainment.

    Finally, the collection’s newsletters created by women of color will be valuable to LGBT activists and researchers. The collection includes nine years of the Salsa Soul Gayzette, which was produced by the legendary Salsa Soul Sisters of Brooklyn, New York. There are also copies of the Los Angeles–based ULOAH: United Lesbians of African Heritage and Unidad, the newsletter of the Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos.

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  • Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin: Beyond the Daughters of Bilitis

    Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, lesbian organizers for civil rights, civil liberties, and human dignity, pioneered the modern lesbian and feminist movements. They founded the Daughters of Bilitis, one of the most important early lesbian organizations, in 1955. These women helped bring hidden issues of violence against women and within families into public view; ensured the open involvement of LGBT people in electoral politics; and challenged censorship at local, state, and national levels.

    This collection covers the extensive work of Lyon and Martin in social movements for the advancement of the rights of women and sexual minorities—specifically, their work for, and leadership of, the LGBT movement and the modern women’s rights movement both in San Francisco and across the United States. Their work illuminated issues, such as police violence against gay youth, discrimination against LGBT persons in employment, enlightened responses to the victims of the AIDS crisis, and the backlash against affirmative action. A variety of materials in the collection, such as meeting minutes, notes, press clippings, reports, mailing lists, correspondence, and memoranda showcase their work with the ACLU, the San Francisco Coalition for Human Rights, the Commission on Crime Control and Violence Protection, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

    Of particular interest to students of the LGBT and women’s rights movements, the collection will contain materials that Lyon and Martin collected while working on their groundbreaking book on domestic violence, Battered Wives. Letters and other correspondence reflect the impact of the book on women across the nation. 

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  • Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin and the Daughters of Bilitis

    Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin pioneered the modern gay rights and feminist movements. They founded the first lesbian rights organization in U.S. history, the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), in 1955. Beginning as a small social club, the group grew into a national network with local chapters. The DOB and other organizations provided a foundation for both the lesbian and gay rights movement and the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their efforts ushered in a new era of openness, media visibility, and political campaigns for the LGBT community.

    Researchers will find extensive material documenting Lyon and Martin’s outreach to, and involvement in, numerous organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, the National Organization for Women, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. They also helped establish new groups that furthered social justice, such as the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, the first gay political club in the United States, and the groundbreaking Council on Religion and the Homosexual in 1964. In addition, this collection contains valuable information on topics relating to family issues, such as domestic violence.

    Researchers interested in queer studies, American studies, public policy, political science, government and politics, sociology, and psychology will find this collection essential.

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  • Sexual Politics in Britain

    This collection documents the emergence of Britain’s women’s liberation and gay rights movements in the 1970s. Highlights include extensive records of Britain’s Committee for Homosexual Equality (CHE) and Scotland’s similar Scottish Minority Group as well as every issue of Gay News, a biweekly national publication for gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals, from its first issue in 1972 through April 1983.

    The collection also features complete or nearly complete runs of women’s liberation periodicals that span a wide range of ideological orientations, writing styles, and focuses. The materials from CHE and the Scottish Minorities Group include meeting minutes; newsletters, bulletins, and periodicals; and information on campaigns, press releases, reports, and event announcements through December 1977. The collection also contains materials from a similar Irish group, the Union for Sexual Freedoms in Ireland, from between 1975 and 1976.

    The collection’s periodicals for gay men include Gay International News (1972); Gay Left, featuring Marxist analysis; Outcome, for young gay men; Mancunian Gay, for gays and lesbians in Manchester; and Outrage, offering humor and music reviews as well as serious articles.

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  • The Homophile Movement: Papers of Donald Stewart Lucas, 1941-1976

    This collection documents the activist and professional activities of Donald Stewart Lucas, a central figure in the 1950s and 1960s homophile (gay civil rights) movement in San Francisco. The materials in this collection showcase the homophile movement and the manifestation of antipoverty measures in predominantly gay areas of San Francisco.

    Lucas became acquainted with the gay rights-oriented Mattachine Society in 1953 and quickly achieved a position of leadership in the organization alongside Harold (Hal) Call. The Lucas papers include a nearly complete set of meeting minutes of the Mattachine Society coordinating council, annual meetings of the national organization, and conventions—including notes on the two conventions in 1953 that witnessed a change in the leadership of the organization. The Mattachine Society correspondence not only documents the function of the organization, but also provides first-person accounts of the lives of gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. The collection also contains the records of Pan-Graphic Press (co-founded by Lucas and Call in 1954) and the Mattachine Review, including correspondence with authors and documentation of the business finances. Rare and original Pan-Graphic Press publications, including Helen Branson’s The Gay Bar (1957), can be found here as well.

    Other organizations are well documented in the Lucas papers. Key items related to the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, a homophile organization established in 1964, include the founding documents, meeting minutes, and a small cache of correspondence. Also included are records from the Society for Individual Rights, the Daughters of Bilitis, and other organizations.

    This collection is essential for researchers studying the homophile movement and the intersection of class and homosexuality.

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  • The Mattachine Society of New York Records, 1951-1976

    This collection of records, spanning from 1951 to 1976, gives an overview of the American homophile movement through the activities of the now-disbanded Mattachine Society of New York (MSNY). The Mattachine Society was one of the leaders of the LGBT rights movement in the latter half of the twentieth century, promoting its cause through education and other peaceful methods. It concentrated on assisting the LGBT community with mental health issues, educating the public about homosexuality, and lobbying to repeal discriminatory laws. The society came to be regarded as the authority on “the homosexual viewpoint” through its use of mass media.

    The collection itself is composed of six distinct categories of records: correspondence, topical files, gay organizations, financial records, photographs, and printed ephemera. Photographs in the collection document two major events: the East Coast Homophile Organization’s convention in 1965 and a gay pride parade in the early 1970s. The printed ephemera here represents a variety of material related to the gay rights movement.

    Although the MSNY disbanded in 1987 due to internal feuding and dwindling public support for its more passive approach to civil rights advocacy, these records form a cohesive view of the beginnings of the homophile civil rights movement in New York. Researchers tracing the progression of LGBT rights will find this collection essential to their analyses, particularly for those focused on the state of New York.

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  • The National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce Records, 1973-2000

    The National LGBTQ Task Force is the oldest LGBTQ advocacy group in the United States still in existence. Since its founding in 1973, the Task Force has been involved with every major issue affecting homosexuality. The organization has combatted discrimination in employment and military service, advocated for LGBTQ civil rights, fought anti-sodomy laws, focused governmental and public attention on AIDS, exposed violence against LGBTQ individuals, advocated on behalf of LGBT families, and connected and assisted LGBT activists nationwide. 

    A significant portion of the collection comprises field files from NGLTF projects. The Anti-Violence Project is the largest component of these field files, and includes the group’s extensive documentation of incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence and its sustained lobbying efforts on the victims’ behalf. The AIDS Project also figures prominently. Other projects with substantial files include Gays in the Military, Families/Domestic Partnership, Open Employment, and Privacy. General subject files cover issues ranging from abortion to youth. Researchers will also find correspondence detailing the NGLTF’s relationships with individual members of Congress from 1987 to 1993 as well as with a wide range of organizations.

    This collection is beneficial to researchers interested in LGBTQ advocacy and policy in the United States in the late twentieth century.

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