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Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll2008-069

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.

Dates

  • 1962-2007

Creator

Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Publication Rights

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).

Biography

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.

Extent

1.1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

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.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Kay Tobin Lahusen, 2007.

Related Material

Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Gay History Papers and Photographs, Archives and Manuscripts Division, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Separated Material

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.

The Advocate

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

Connexion: UMHE

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

Gay Vue

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

The Ladder

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter

Metropolitan Community Church: Community News Calendar

Mother

Motive

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

Our Community

The Phoenix: Midwest Homophile Voice

Pursuit & Symposium

Wicce: A Lesbian / Feminist Newspaper

General Physical Description note

(3 archive cartons).

Processing Information

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.

Title
Finding aid of the Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Collection Coll2008.069
Status
Completed
Author
Loni Shibuyama
Date
© 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in: English

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

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