The Collections: Books and Monographs Our
11,000 books, by and/or about lesbians, date from the
19th century to the present. They
have all been catalogued and can be searched on the
computer by author, title, publisher, date and keywords.
In addition to the books in the Archives, we keep one
exact duplicate and one of every different duplicate
(different cover, preface, edition) stored off site.
The books are divided into several categories, the largest being fiction/biography/autobiography
and literary criticism. These books, as well
as the mysteries, science fiction, children’s, young adult, poetry
and humor books (which are shelved separately) are organized differently
from most libraries. First, all books pertaining to an author, such as
biographies and literary criticism, are shelved along with her own work.
This makes it much easier to do research. Second, books are shelved by
the first name of the author, a reflection of the Archives’ founding
during the lesbian-feminist 1970s. We have maintained this order since
it is, in itself, an artifact reflecting part of our communities’
We also have separate sections for poetry anthologies and prose anthologies,
shelved alphabetically by the title, as are the pulp novels, which date
from the 1930’s to the present. We call these “survival literature”
since they were often the only depictions of lesbian life and sex available
from the 1930s to the 1960s. In addition to books, the theatre, film and
video categories contain original scripts, many of which are unpublished.
Our non-fiction collection is divided into several categories as well.
You’ll find sections on Herstory/History (including
oral histories); Lesbian-Feminism and Lesbian Theory; Health;
Social Science (which includes politics, community studies,
psychology, economics, anthropology, sociology); Culture;
Sports; Sexuality (including “our enemies”); Religion/Spirituality;
and Art/Photography. These are shelved alphabetically by title
within each category except for Art/Photography books, which
are shelved by the first name of the artist/photographer.
The reference collection also contains several categories: bibliographies,
indexes, directories, encyclopedias, catalogs, guides, and other major
reference works on lesbian/gay history. This is where we keep our own
in-house guides to the collection, with printouts of our subject file
headings, special collections, organizations, books, unpublished papers,
T-shirts, and videos.