Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen collection
Scope and Content of Collection
The Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Collection contains news clippings, journal articles, flyers, pamphlets, photographs, a DVD videodisc, a VHS videocassette, and other materials related to Gittings and Lahusen's activities in the gay and lesbian liberation movement. The collection is divided into two series: (1) Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Personal Materials, and (2) Organizational and Subject Files. The bulk of the Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Personal Materials series consists of photocopies of their personal papers, including articles and speeches written by them. Other materials include photographs, correspondence, and news clippings referencing them. The Organizational and Subject Files series contains news clippings, journal articles, a VHS videotape, a DVD videodisc, and other materials related to Gittings' work on the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association; advocacy on behalf of prominent gay rights activist Frank Kameny; public outreach and education on gay and lesbian issues; and participation in a number of gay rights organizations. The series also includes subject files on such topics as mental health and psychiatry, university education, employment discrimination, families, and religion.
- Gittings, Barbara, 1932-2007 (Person)
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).
Barbara Gittings was born on July 31, 1932, in Vienna, Austria, where her father was stationed as a United States diplomat. Returning to the U.S., the family eventually settled in Wilmington, Delaware. She entered Northwestern University and soon came out as a lesbian. She left Northwestern after her freshman year, settled in Philadelphia and supported herself with clerical jobs.
In 1958 she began her long career as a gay rights advocate when she founded the first East Coast chapter of Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) and later edited its national lesbian magazine, The Ladder, from 1963 - 1966. It was around this time when Gittings met the woman who would be her partner for 46 years, Kay Tobin Lahusen. In the mid-1960s, Gittings marched in the first gay demonstrations at the White House, Pentagon and Independence Hall. During the 1970s, Gittings became a charter member of the boards of directors for both the National Gay Task Force (1973) and the Gay Rights National Lobby (1976). At this time, she was also active in the American Psychiatric Association, running gay exhibits at APA conferences and working with prominent gay rights activist Dr. Frank Kameny to persuade the Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Though she is not a librarian, Gittings became involved in the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association, the first gay caucus in a professional association. From 1971 to 1986, she headed the group and campaigned to get positive gay and lesbian materials into libraries and out to users and to end discrimination against gay library workers and patrons. In 2003, the ALA awarded her with a lifetime honorary membership.
Kay Tobin Lahusen is a photojournalist, writer and activist who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1932. She later moved to Boston, where she worked in the reference library of the Christian Science Monitor.
Her life as a gay rights activist began in 1961 when she joined the Daughters of Bilitis, where she met the woman who would become her life partner, Barbara Gittings. Soon after, she moved to Philadelphia to live with Gittings. During the mid-1960s, Lahusen marched in the earliest picket lines for gay rights, and in 1970, she became one of the founding members of the Gay Activists Alliance in New York. She also worked in the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, wrote for the newspaper, Gay, and was active in the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association. In 1972, she co-authored a book of biographies of gay activists, The Gay Crusaders (1972).
Throughout their lives, Gittings and Lahusen continued to advocate for gay rights causes. Their 46-year partnership ended on February 18, 2007 when Gittings died of breast cancer at the age of 74 at their home in Pennsylvania.
1.1 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
News clippings, journal articles, pamphlets, flyers, printed materials from activist organizations, photographs, a videocassette and a DVD relating to pioneering lesbian activists Barbara Gittings and her partner of 46 years, Kay Tobin Lahusen. Active from the 1960s, Gittings marched in the first gay rights demonstrations at the White House, Pentagon and Independence Hall; she worked with Frank Kameny to persuade the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders; and she headed the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association from 1971 to 1986. The collection contains articles by and about Gittings and Lahusen; subject files covering a variety of topics, such as religion, mental health and education; and printed material from several activist organizations, including the Gay Task Force of the ALA, the Homophile Action League, the Mattachine Society, the Gay Activist Alliance and the National Gay Task Force.
Gift of Kay Tobin Lahusen, 2007.
The following publications have been separated from the Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen collection and entered into the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives' database:
Tobin, Kay and Randy Wicker. The Gay Crusaders. New York: Paperback Library, 1972.
Armed Forces Informer
Capitol Hill: The Newsletter of the Gay Rights National Lobby
Central Michigan Gayzette
Come Out! A Newspaper By and For the Gay Community
Concern: Newsletter of the Southern California Council on Religion and the Homophile
Daughters of Bilitis / New York Newsletter
Daughters of Bilitis Philadelphia Chapter Newsletter
Dorian Collumns: Dorian Society of Seattle
Eastern Mattachine Magazine
Focus: Orange County
Gay Academic Union Journal: Gai Saber
The Gay Alternative
The Gay Blade
Gayzette: The Weekly Philadelphia Gayzette
Homophile Action League Newsletter
Homosexual Counseling Journal: The Quarterly Journal of the Homosexual Community Counseling Center
Interchange: National Gay Student Center
Mattachine Midwest Newsletter
Metropolitan Community Church: Community News Calendar
New Gay Life
New York Mattachine Newsletter
On the Line: The Newsletter of the Gay Rights National Lobby
One: The Homosexual Viewpoint
One-to-One: A Lesbian / Feminist Journal of Communication
The Phoenix: Midwest Homophile Voice
Pursuit & Symposium
Wicce: A Lesbian / Feminist Newspaper
General Physical Description note
(3 archive cartons).
Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, December 17, 2008.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
- Finding aid of the Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Collection Coll2008.069
- Loni Shibuyama
- © 2008
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in: English