Photo Collection

Our photographic collection invaluably represents Lesbian lives and Lesbian herstory—mostly, but not exclusively, focusing on the twentieth century.

A black-and-white photograph of a tabby cat with a white face and chest sleeping against a stuffed animal who wears a shirt that reads "hug a dyke."

In 1979, the Archives officially put out a call to gather images to “end the legacy of lost faces.” Since then, the collection has been growing and growing: it includes about 12,000 images, including portraits, self-portraits, snapshots, high-end prints, negatives, slides, photo albums, scrapbooks, documentary photography, contact sheets and postcards. Much of the photographic materials came to us from donors who wanted their images saved and their lives remembered. The collection also features the work of photographers and artists, both locally and internationally renowned, for whom the Archives has been instrumental to support and inspire their vision. The diversity of backgrounds and materials makes this collection unique and a vital source to tap into Lesbian visual narratives.

This collection lives in the dining room, placed by the long table in a black filing cabinet and to the left-hand side of it, in a glass-doored closet. Both the cabinet and the closet are the physical spaces where most of the on-site photographic material is stored, yet framed and unframed photographs are scattered throughout the Archives, from the kitchen to the bathroom and the bookshelves, creating a feeling of being at home. Honoring the mission of the Archives to collect and preserve Lesbian herstories against invisibility, the archivettes, long-term volunteers and interns, have been tirelessly working to create an inventory and digitize the collection. The material in the filing cabinet is now fully inventoried, and the digitization is an ongoing long-term project. There are boxes of photographs in the basement that are yet to be processed—the care for the photographic collection requires money, time, specialized equipment, and the help of interns and long-term volunteers. Your help and support is always needed and most welcomed!

Please enjoy a taste of this collection by visiting Our Online Photo Sampler.

If you see an image you’d like to use for publication, please contact us for further information; all images are protected by our agreements and understanding of how the materials can be used. And if you have more information than what is listed about an image, we welcome that input as well. The email address for all image info is

Our photography collection contains approximately 12,000 printed photographs, located in files, binders and albums. In addition, we have a collection of slides, which have been placed into binders. The photo file is arranged alphabetically, either by the first name of the photographer or the subject, and we have a computer listing of the files in it. The photo albums and binders usually contain the work of a specific photographer or the personal photos documenting the people and events in a particular Lesbian’s life. In addition, some of the binders hold slides of artists’ work. Many of the photographic images we have can be used for publication or display; either we have permission to allow this or we can get in touch with the photographer so you can make the necessary arrangements. However, much of the holdings were donated without any agreement about public use. Please allow for sufficient time to follow the process of securing permission.