Our special collections are a wonderful resource
for researchers from all over the world
(click to enlarge)
Special Collections These are the kinds
of collections most people think of when they think of an
They contain personal papers of individuals or organizational
papers. The Archives’ Special Collections do not only
reflect the lives of “famous” lesbians. We seek
to preserve and document the lives of all lesbians and our
Special Collections reflect this principle. You are just as
likely to find the collection of a secretary, teacher, or
truck driver, as you are a well-known poet, writer, or activist.
And, we urge all of our community members to begin their collection
While the contents of the collections vary widely, many contain personal
journals or diaries plus other material the lesbian felt reflected her
life. For instance, one lawyer’s collection contained many legal
files, a large number from lesbian cases; others contain notes from a
lover, valentine cards, photo albums, and so on. Organizational Special
Collections are usually material given to us once an organization disbands.
So, for example, we have a Special Collection from the New York Committee
to Free Sharon Kowalski and from the Madison, WI Lesbian Center. Special
Collections range in size from one to 60 boxes. We keep
one box from every open access collection. Additional boxes are stored
off site and are brought to the Archives when wanted for research.
Special Collections are catalogued on our database. In addition, a printed
list of the collections accompanies a set of binders containing the accession
sheets, which are organized by the year in which the collection was donated
or, if is an ongoing collection, the year in which it began. Depending
on the extent to which the collection has been processed and organized,
either by us or by the donor, the accession sheets will contain descriptions
of the contents that vary in their detail. Brief descriptions of more than two hundred Special Collections are also now available on the web.
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