Newsletters are a wonderful source for information. They are published from within the community, and provide news, updates, information, and all kinds of resources.
Our own collection of newsletters proves that they run the gamut—from just a few pages published once or twice, to runs that cover years and years, consistent in timing, layout and feel. Our own newsletters have been a labor of love. They have always been mailed free of charge to everybody on our mailing list, and handed out at events and on special occasions. For some issues we no longer have an original; a photocopy is all we have left. But for most we have a few copies of the original edition. They can all be found in a binder on the table in our living room on the first floor. Browsing through them will provide insight into how we have grown, what our concerns and passions are and have been, how we have reached out to the community. They show how times have changed and remind us of our accomplishments, our processes, our struggles and our victories.
1. June 1975
Our first newsletter came out in June 1975. It has seven pages of xeroxed text, stapled in the upper left corner. In it the women who started the Archives introduce themselves, and offer a formal statement of structure and purpose. This statement has been in almost every issue of the newsletter since then.
2. March 1976
March 1976: Newsletter 2. This year we published two issues of our newsletter, one in the spring and one in the fall. Our own copy of issue 2 is 6 stapled xeroxed pages. It contains our first bibliography, and bibliographies became a feature in almost all subsequent newsletters. This one is the “Bibliography of bibliographies,” a guide to reference material that mentions Lesbians. Four of the entries are strictly about Lesbians, 36 are primarily about women or homosexuals. This is what was available in 1976.
3. November 1976
Newsletter 3, the only one printed on legal-size paper. In it you’ll find a partial listing of some of our collections, a listing of some of our new acquisitions, and announcements. One of these announcements is about the deadline for material for Heresies’ issue on Lesbian Art, to appear in 1977, and the announcement of a loss: Lavender Women’s last issue will be Vol 5 # 1, July 1976.
4. February 1978
February 1978: Newsletter 4. The first illustrated cover: a collage of some of the poetry from our collection. This is also the first newsletter with a double page spread layout, not just single pages stapled in the upper left corner. In this issue: a listing of research projects, new donations, and a plea for help to publish our newsletter more regularly, as well as requests for clippings and all relevant materials. The bibliography covers our poetry collection at that time.
5. Spring 1979
Spring 1979: Newsletter 5, with Mabel Hampton on the cover, a bibliography on our short story collection, and the first elaborate piece on how we find funding. This is the year we turned into a not-for-profit organization: we’re incorporated now! Also in this issue: the usual research questions, and Joan Nestle’s “One Woman’s View: Thoughts on What the Archives Is and Can Be.”
6. July 1980
July 1980: Newsletter 6 lists a scope of the collection, an account of activities such as the “At Home” series, slide shows and fundraisers, and a beginning bibliography on Lesbians working together. To make sure nobody could see the contents through the thin envelope, we added an extra cover, with simply the word “Newsletter” on it. It was never our intent to “out” women by accidentally exposing the kind of material they received in the mail: respecting women’s privacy has always been important to us. On the cover: a photograph of the Archives’ contingent at the Gay Pride March, showing our large signs with faces of famous and not-so-famous Lesbians.
In the newsletter: a guide to our collections, including the second poetry update, special collections and a piece on issues of naming—for instance how the term “women’s” often hides the real subject. A quote: “So; no more euphemisms. Women’s music is Lesbian music. Women’s culture is Lesbian culture.”
7. December 1981
December 1981: Newsletter 7: 45 pages! In this issue for the first time: “In Memory of the Voices We Have Lost”—a feature mentioning the names of Lesbians who passed away. Often in obituaries the only reference to a woman’s Lesbian partner is a short mentioning of her “companion.” On the cover, and with an editorial, we feature Jeannette Foster, who had died that year. In this issue also a Bibliography of Sexuality, the continuing story of our funding, a wonderful piece on the “Gutter letter” and how some of our material manages to find us.
Also: Mabel Hampton’s coming out story, and the Provincetown book Collection.
8. Winter 1984
Winter 1984: Newsletter 8: 44 photocopied pages, dedicated to the International collection. Our own copy is a xerox…we did not keep one of the originals for our own collection…. This issue starts with many thank-you’s to contributors, volunteers and friends. The cover features a poster by Oikabeth Lesbianas Socialistas from Mexico. Our finances are discussed with an actual overview of 1982 and 1983—our budgets are amazingly low. In this issue we start a cultural survey of The Well of Loneliness—Radcliffe Hall’s novel, which played such an important role in many Lesbians’ lives. Our goal is to collect information on how we see and judge our cultural roots. We also publish a partial listing of our international collection, listed by country and ranging from Australia to the (then) USSR, and a few pieces about Lesbian life from before the 70s.
9. Fall 1986
September 1986: Newsletter 9, 12 pages with a beautiful poster of two women and a fragment of Sappho’s poetry. We produced a slimmer newsletter hoping that this would enable us to publish more frequently. But apparently the number of pages has nothing to do with it. In this issue there is a sampling of the responses to The Well of Loneliness survey, a piece on Mabel Hampton, and a message from the coordinating coordinators about recent changes. Space has already begun to be a major issue and this will become much clearer in the years to come: we are growing and growing and need more space.
10. February 1988
February 1988: Newsletter 10. On the cover: Rota Silverstrini, 1941–1987. Ruth Pardo/ Rota Silverstrini, a proud Puerto Rican Lesbian, was a poet, mental health activist, artist, and one of our first volunteers. In this issue we bring you the story of Marge MacDonald, whose collection you can find at the Archives, and one of her diary entries, about a visit to a Lesbian bar in Ohio, in 1955. Also: the announcement of the Building Fund, our fundraising effort for our own building, information on the DOB (Daughters of Bilitis) project, our slideshow, the “At-Home” series and encouraging words to make a will and ensure that your wishes about your estate will be respected.
11. January 1990
January 1990: Newsletter 11. On the cover: Mabel Hampton, who passed away in 1989. She is honored in the first couple of pages of this issue through testimonials, memories and photographs. Also in this issue: “Collecting postcards,” Artifacts of Lesbian Culture,” a sample of a primary document in the form of a newspaper clipping from 1947, describing how two girls tried to get married in Sonoma County, and several project updates.
12. June 1991
June 1991: Newsletter 12. On the cover one of the pictures from the “Keepin’ On” exhibit, images of African American Lesbians, which is our first “portable” exhibit which can be sent to other places interested in showing the material. Also in this issue: a firsthand account of a raid on a Lesbian bar in 1964, information on the different colored triangles used to identify people during the holocaust—Lesbians are often associated with the black triangle—an introduction to the coordinators at that time, a research guide to Gay and Lesbian history sources and the usual updates.
13. June 1992
June 1992: Newsletter 13. We have our building! On the cover a photo of the front door to our new home, a beautiful limestone building in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Most of the issue is dedicated to the new building—photos of volunteers working, a floor plan, even the numbers in the financial statement, and Joan writes about her memories of living with the Archives. We ask if somebody can donate a fax machine…. The bibliography is on Lesbians and AIDS, and there is a piece on doing research at the Archives.
14. June 1993
June 1993: Newsletter 14. Audre Lorde passed away the year before, and a lovely image of her in her first communion outfit is on our cover. In this issue, also a tribute to her by Joan Nestle, remembering the many different ways Audre Lorde’s energy and inspiration touched us, and a selected bibliography. Besides that we have a building update, an abbreviated timeline of our history, the financial statement and information on how to use the Archives from a distance.
15. January 1995
January 1995: Newsletter 15. On the cover a collage of Lesbian pulp novels, which we refer sometimes to as “survival literature.” We announce the exhibit, Queer Covers, which features these books, which were published from the late 30s to the mid 60s. Also an account of how we acquired the letter that Radcliffe Hall wrote to her publisher to discuss The Well of Loneliness. We include a flyer asking for volunteers, and a report on our Building Fund…time to pay off the mortgage! Our bibliography is on Lesbian activism, and we discuss how materials can be donated.
16. December 1996
December 1996: Newsletter 16. A home of our own, as illustrated on the cover, a photograph of some of the coordinators on the stoop of our very own building celebrating paying off the mortgage. In this issue more details—a “Report from the Field”—Alexis’s motorcycle cross-country road trip, bringing our slide show to 34 cities. Also: information on internships with some first-hand accounts, our bibliography is on the Unpublished Papers, one of the Archives’ most unique collections. Furthermore a tribute to Alma Routsong, the author of “Patience and Sarah” who died this year, and updates on several of our collections.
17. March 1999
March 1999: Newsletter 17. Valerie Taylor—author, poet and activist—is on our cover. This is the Archives’ 25th anniversary year, and the first year we have a website. Our newsletter is brief this time: a piece on our anniversary, our T-shirt collection and the financial reports with several other updates.
18. Fall 2001
Fall 2001: Newsletter 18. Our first cover in full color, showing a sampling of our fabulous button collection. This issue opens with our “In memory of the voices we have lost,” our tribute to those of us who have passed away this year. Among them is Blue Lunden, lifelong activist, whose collection has since become part of the Archives. Furthermore: a report of our 25th anniversary gala…already two years ago at the time this newsletter is published. Our featured collection is the Periodicals, and we dedicated a big part of the newsletter to our international aspects…the international Lesbian fiction and international voices.
19. Spring 2004
Spring 2004: Newsletter 19. On the cover: Tom and Lena, two women who were involved in what we refer to as a “Boston Marriage”. They come to us through the story of Dodie Glasse, who rented a room from them in the mid-fifties. Our bibliography is on Marriage and Relationships, we have a wonderful piece on the so-called “bar cards” with illustrations throughout the newsletter, a few short reports, and Joan Nestle connects with us from Australia. And one of our volunteers wrote us a letter, urging those of us who long for the activism of the 50s, 70s and 80s to come back, to keep being involved in our struggles of today.