Who We Are

A group of dykes stand in front of their new building
Group photo of the coordinators in 1993, in front of our new building. Photo by Morgan Gwenwald.

Our History

Eight lesbians sitting on a couch and chair, as well as the floor. A few of them are engaged in conversation.
Madeline Davis (L), Frances Dowdy next to her, Gayle Rubin third from left, Pat Califia on the right. Sabrina Williams is pictured sitting on the floor. This gathering took place after the Barnard Sex Conference in 1982. Photo by Morgan Gwenwald.

Why We Exist

The Lesbian Herstory Archives exists to gather, preserve and provide access to records of Lesbian lives and activities. Doing this also serves to uncover and document our Herstory previously denied to us by patriarchal historians in the interests of the culture that they served. The existence of the Archives will thus enable current and future generations to analyze and reevaluate the Lesbian experience.


Record Your Experiences!

We encourage lesbians to record their experiences and to donate to the Archives any materials that are relevant to their lives, we collect:

  • books
  • magazines
  • journals
  • news clippings (from established, Feminist and Lesbian media)
  • bibliographies
  • photos
  • herstorical information
  • t-shirts
  • tapes
  • films
  • diaries
  • oral herstories
  • poetry and prose
  • biographies
  • autobiographies
  • notices of events
  • posters
  • graphics
  • zines
  • unpublished papers
  • organizational records
  • memorabilia and references to our lives

Two black dykes sitting on a motorcycle at a march.
Photo by Morgan Gwenwald

The existence of these Archives will enable us to formulate our living herstory and to create an archive representing a diverse range of Lesbian lives and cultures.

Principles

We encourage lesbians to record their experiences and to donate to the Archives any materials that are relevant to their lives: we collect books, magazines, journals, news clippings (from established, Feminist and Lesbian media), bibliographies, photos, herstorical information, t-shirts, tapes, films, diaries, oral herstories, poetry and prose, biographies, autobiographies, notices of events, posters, graphics, zines, unpublished papers, organizational records and other memorabilia and references to our lives.


—The Archives collects material by and about all Lesbians, acknowledging changing concepts of Lesbian identities. All expressions of Lesbian identities, desires and practices are important, welcomed and included. The goal is to document the widest range of Lesbian experience from all geographic, cultural, political and economic backgrounds and historical contexts, not just the lives of the famous or the published.

—The Archives welcomes all to come visit, explore the collection and do research. No fee for this use is charged. Gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, religion or dis/ability will never be barriers for use of the Archives collection.

—The Archives shall be involved in the political struggles of all Lesbians.

—The Archives is an all-volunteer organization, collectively run, with the coordinators making policy decisions by consensus.

– Archival skills are taught one generation of Lesbians to another, breaking the elitism of traditional archives.

–The Archives is funded by individual Lesbians, LGBT and feminist organizations, allies and nongovernmental funding sources.

–The Archives is and will remain an independent entity housed in its own building in the community, not on an academic campus.

–The Archives will never be sold, nor will its contents ever be divided.

–The Archives is committed to the political struggles of all Lesbians and their communities.

–The Archives is dedicated to building intergenerational bridges among Lesbian communities to deepen the understanding of what Lesbian experiences mean in different contexts and in different historical periods.

(Revised Spring 2019)

On This Website

On this web site you will see the ever-growing face of the archives, the work of tireless coordinators and volunteers who make all possible, and of the continuing donations, both financial and material, of our communities. The Archives coordinators hold this building and its contents in trust for our communities, which is of our highest priority.

We invite you to use us, to visit us in whatever way you can. In the future we hope to make the contents of our collections accessible on the Internet. But someday, if you can, make your way to the old table in Brooklyn around which so many of us have dreamed and planned and acted, refusing the ignorances of our times.