Books & Monographs

Our 11,000 books, by and/or about Lesbians, date from the nineteenth 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, if we have duplicates, we keep one exact duplicate and one of every different duplicate (different cover, preface, edition) stored off-site.

A decorative vintage lamp sits on a small table in front of a bookshelf-lined wall.
Bookshelves in the Archives’ front room. Photo by Saskia Scheffer.

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’ herstory.

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 1930s 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 In addition to books, the theater, film and video categories contain original scripts, many of which are unpublished.

Our nonfiction collection is divided into several categories as well. You’ll find sections on Herstory/History (including oral herstories); 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.