Gay and Lesbian History Archive at the NYPL

The New York Times today featured a City Room blog post on the evolving gay and lesbian history collection at the New York Public Library.  Although they organized an exhibition in 1994 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, the vast majority of their rich queer history sources weren’t catalogued.  Paul LeClerc, the President of the NYPL, said “I was aware that we were amassing one of the greatest collections ever,” however, “the problem with exploiting those collections was that they hadn’t been processed. They consisted of hundreds and hundreds of boxes of material.” 

Gertrude Stein, January 4, 1935.City Room reports that the archive, which features manuscripts and materials “across numerous disciplines and from several library divisions,” and includes “copies of One and The Ladder magazines from the 50s and 60s, the newspapers Gay and MOJA-Gay and Black, Walt Whitman’s hand-edited version of “Leaves of Grass,” a William Burroughs typescript, letters written by Virginia Woolf and Audre Lorde, posters, placards, and a 15th-century edition of an elegy by the Roman poet Tibullus.”  On the left is a photograph of Gertrude Stein by Carl Van Vechten, taken in New York on January 4, 1935, from one of their digital collections.

The NYPL has started a new donor committee called LGBT@NYPL, which apparently has already raised some serious coin–$1.5 million–to help in processing the collection.  They’ve got their own eponymous blog (natch!), edited by the Jason Baumann, staff manager of the LGBT committee and Special Assistant to the Director of the NYPL.  It looks like it will feature some quality gay history and interdisciplinary queer studies blogging–but more importantly, it looks like NYPL will be the place to be for LGBT history!  (Darn it all!  All of you queer studies people will have to sublet your homes in Champaign-Urbana, College Station, Midwestern Funky Town, and Cold CIty every summer to go do your research in New York.  Yes, that’s a real bummer.)


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