Archives and online collections in U.S. LGBT history

(cc photo by library riot)

(cc photo by library riot)

This post accompanies a talk I’m giving today about my current research at Cornell’s Human Sexuality Collection. I’ll be speaking about my dissertation, with a focus on its gay and lesbian history component and how LGBT archival collections will help me to answer the questions I’m asking.

Here, I wanted to offer those attending the talk, as well as those following along at home, some links to archives I’ll be mentioning. I’ve also listed some useful digital resources for studying the LGBT past. Find it all after the jump.

Some Major Archives

  • ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles, CA)—An outgrowth of some of the earliest U.S. homophile groups, the ONE Archives include the papers of numerous West Coast homophile activists. The collection will soon be donated to the University of Southern California.
  • GLBT Historical Society (San Francisco, CA)—Another community-based archive, also mounting numerous public exhibits in San Francisco. Its organizational holdings include the records of FTM International, a group for female-to-male transpeople, and the Tavern Guild of San Francisco, an organization of gay bar owners.
  • New York Public Library (New York, NY)—The International Gay Information Center archives include the papers of the Gay Activists Alliance and the Mattachine Society fo New York, among other organizations, as well as personal papers, about 2,000 periodical titles, and ephemera.  Other gay, lesbian, and HIV/AIDS collections include the records of ACT-UP/NY.
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives (Brooklyn, NY)—“The Lesbian Herstory Archives exists to gather and preserve records of Lesbian lives and activities so that future generations will have ready access to materials relevant to their lives.” Material on over 1,500 organizations, 1,300 periodical titles, over 11,000 books.
  • Yale University (New Haven, CT)—Yale’s Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities recently compiled a guide to the numerous manuscript materials on the history of sexuality available at Yale, including numerous personal papers and rare periodicals. Yale also recently acquired the records of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the New England-based LGBT legal organization.
  • Human Sexuality Collection, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)—“The Human Sexuality Collection seeks to preserve and make accessible primary sources that document historical shifts in the social construction of sexuality, with a focus on U.S. lesbian and gay history and the politics of pornography.” Includes the records of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); numerous personal papers; and dozens of midcentury male physique magazine titles.

Some Digital Resources

  • LGBT Religious Archives Network—Includes oral histories and online exhibitions related to queer religious history, as well as a comprehensive index to physical archives that hold relevant materials.
  • OutHistory.org—Collaborative and ever-expanding digital resource featuring articles and curated exhibits of primary sources contributed by academic and community historians. Highlights include the early gay liberation periodical Come Out! and the exhibit “Queer Youth,” covering the history of queer activism by college and high school students.
  • LGBT Life with Full Text (institutional subscription required)—Searchable index of scores of titles, with full text of periodicals including The Ladder, ONETangents, and The Body Politic.
  • Periodicals—Gay periodicals of the last decade freely available digitally, in whole or in part, include OutweekThe Advocate, and Out.
  • Lesbian Pulp Covers at Yale’s Beinecke Library—An exhibit drawn from the Beinecke’s collection of lesbian pulp fiction.
  • Rainbow History Project—This Washington, DC-based community group has digitized a range of materials related to gay life and activism in the city.

(H/t to Stephen Vider for pointing me to some of these digital resources. Check out his posts here, here, and here.)

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