Periodicals, Newsletters & Zines

Our processed periodicals were historically tracked by means of a cardex system, made up of a set of cards on which has information including the volumes and issues we have of each title. We are actively working to have our new and existing holdings entered into a searchable online database.

Small stacks of periodicals
Our periodical collection started small….

The Archives’ periodical collection is broad and diverse, and includes national, regional, and local publications by, for and/or about lesbians. This large collection of approximately 1,300 titles is arranged in five separate sections. Our processed periodicals were historically tracked by means of a cardex system, made up of a set of cards on which has information including the volumes and issues we have of each title. We are actively working to have our new and existing holdings entered into a searchable online database.

The first contains published journals and glossy magazines, both those from academic and lesbian presses as well as ones self-published by lesbians. They are arranged on shelves in acid-free boxes alphabetically by title. The earliest ones, dating to the 1940s, 50s and 60s, include Vice Versa, The Ladder, One and the Mattachine Review; the latest ones are from this year, such as GONYC. Some of them are still being published; others are not. For some we have a full run; for others we have only one or two issues. Some titles may have had only one or two issues. For some we have a full run of all issues; for others we have only one or two issues. And, some only had one or two issues. Our periodicals are tracked by means of a Cardex system, made up of a set of cards on which each volume and issue we have is recorded. Each card also contains the publisher’s name, address, and information about whether the publication is still active. We have some of this information on our database and expect to complete it shortly. Many of our periodicals in this category have been abstracted and indexed and are part of the EBSCO LGBT Life Database

The second group of periodicals is newspapers. These are kept in flat acid-free boxes, shelved alphabetically by title. The earliest with lesbian content include a New York publication called “Rat”, which was actually an alternative paper taken over for one issue by women in the late 1960s before it folded, and “Come Out!” which grew out of New York’s Gay Liberation Front around the same time. Most papers, like “Out In the Mountains” (VT) or “The Lesbian Inciter/Insider” (MN) are local or regional rather than national, although newspapers like “The Lesbian News” (LA) and the “Washington Blade” (DC) reach a national audience. Many of our newspapers have been microfilmed by Gale and are part of their The Archives of Human Sexuality/Identity and also under the title “ Gay Rights Movement: Series 12, Lesbian Herstory Archives Newspaper and Periodicals Collection.”

Organized Documents
Our periodical collection is now over 1600 titles and growing

We have a collection of lesbian periodicals dating back to the 1940s

The third group of periodicals contains newsletters. At the Archives we like to say: “Two lesbians, one newsletter, anywhere in the world”. The bigger ones, like the “Lesbian Connection,” have a large circulation that is international in scope. But usually newsletters circulate only among members of a group. Most have letters and information about the organization the newsletter represents. The vast majority is local; some are for a group as small as 10 lesbians who get together several times a year for events and who keep in touch with each other with a calendar/newsletter. Early newsletters were done on typewriters and produced on mimeograph or ditto machines; now they look more professional due to desktop publishing. We have a working list of the newsletters in our collection and we continue to update our database. Many of our newsletters have been microfilmed by Thompson Gale and the set of 69 reels are available for purchase under the title: “Gay Rights Movement: Series 10, Lesbian Herstory Archives Newsletter Collection.” We receive royalties for each set sold.

The fourth group in our periodical collection contains the international periodicals. Although the majority of the Archive’s materials are from the United States, lesbians in other countries are represented in several of our collections, including the periodical collection. The international collection includes all types of periodicals.. While this part of the collection is by no means exhaustive, along with information in our Geographical Files and International Book Collection, it can give you some sense of lesbian life in countries other than the U.S. These periodicals are arranged alphabetically according to country of origin. The international collection includes periodicals from over 20 countries and includes materials in languages other than English.

The last group in the collection, ‘zines, is the smallest. Like newsletters, ‘zines are typically for a smaller circulation. These materials tend to be personal in nature and reflect a DIY-ethos. These are stored alphabetically in acid-free folders and boxes.