Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs

The German legal advisor Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) is often described as the world’s first gay rights activist. Ulrichs published widely on the topic of male-male sexual desire, coined the term “Urning” to denote people who felt such desire, and helped lead a campaign to overturn Prussia’s sodomy law. The Beinecke holds many of his publications (all in German editions published by Max Spohr in 1898) including Araxes: Call to Free the Urning’s Nature from Penal Law (1870;1898 edition) and several essays from his Researches on the Riddle of Male-Male Love (1898).

This correspondence is part of the larger collection of the papers of Henry Graham Dakyns (1838-1911), best known as a translator of Greek texts. His correspondents included his friend John Addington Symonds, the poet, classicist, and translator who wrote important early studies of same-sex love among the Greeks and the Victorians.

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), pioneering writer, chronicler of life in Paris, and lesbian, stood at the center of arts and literary salons, social circles, and aesthetic movements, aided by her domestic partner, Alice Toklas (1877-1967). The Stein Papers consist of manuscripts, letters, photographs, printed materials, personal papers, and art and objects that document the life and work of Stein and Toklas, principally up until 1946, the year of Stein’s death. A selection of images from their papers can be found in the Beinecke digital library.

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) was an early twentieth-century American Modernist, best known for his painting, but also for his poems and essays. Hartley included homoerotic imagery and references in some of his art. The collection includes correspondence, writings, personal papers, artwork, photographs, and printed material.

Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879-1962) was a major cultural figure in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. She is best known as a bohemian advocate of “free love” and a matron of the arts who brought together artists, writers, and radicals in her Greenwich Village salon and later opened an artists’ colony in New Mexico. In her autobiography Intimate Memories (1933), she discusses her bisexual experiences. The collection spans the years 1859-1961 and consists of letters, manuscripts, photographs, and personal papers, with the bulk of the material dating from 1913-1951.

Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) was an American novelist, essayist, and photographer who collected and promoted the work of black artists of the Harlem Renaissance. The collection includes 18 volumes of campy, homoerotic scrapbooks, containing material from the 1920s to the 1950s, and an immense collection of photographs, including hundreds of intimate portraits of leading artists and performers as well as male nudes.

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961), Imagist poet, and Bryher (1894-1983), novelist, formed a life-long partnership and interacted with a range of significant authors of the twentieth century, from Sylvia Beach to Havelock Ellis. The H.D. Papers span the years 1887-1977, and the Bryher Papers 1812-1978. Both collections include correspondence, manuscripts, and photographs documenting their lives and careers. A selection of images from their papers can be found in the Beinecke digital library: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/hd.html

English writer and socialite Violet Trefusis (1894-1972) began an enduring friendship with Vita Sackville-West in 1904. The relationship developed into a difficult and tumultuous love affair that lasted from approximately 1918 to 1921. Her works include her novelized version of their affair, Broderie anglaise. The Trefusis Papers document her life and work, particularly the 1940s-1960s, and her career as a writer. The papers consist of correspondence, writings, and photographs.

Monroe Wheeler (1899–1988) was best known as an innovative curator at the Museum of Modern Art, where he was director of exhibitions and publications from 1938 to 1967. Glenway Wescott (1901-1987), poet and novelist, was Wheeler’s domestic partner from 1920 on. In 1926 Wheeler met George Platt Lynes (1907-1955), who became a third partner in the existing relationship. The Monroe Wheeler Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, personal papers, photographs, graphic items, clippings, and objects. The collection spans the years 1890-1995.

Glenway Wescott (1901-1987), award-winning author and president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, lived among the literati and artists of Paris and New York. With his domestic partner, Monroe Wheeler, head of exhibitions and publications at the Museum of Modern Art, and their intimate friend, the photographer George Platt Lynes, they were core figures in a group of highly influential gay men in the arts in the mid-twentieth century. The collection includes correspondence, journals, notebooks, and manuscripts.

Kathryn Cavarly Hulme (1900-1981), journalist, novelist, and travel writer, achieved critical acclaim with her bestselling novel A Nun’s Story (1956) based on the experiences of her partner Marie-Louise Habets, a Belgian nurse and former nun. The two women lived together on the island of Kauai from 1960 until Hulme’s death. The papers document her life and career, with the bulk of material dating from 1945-1981.

Wallace Thurman (1902-1934) was a bisexual novelist and playwright who found fame with the novel The Blacker the Berry and the play “Harlem.” The collection contains correspondence (including letters from Langston Hughes), writings, and personal papers

Countee Cullen (1903-1946) was one of the leading poets of the Harlem Renaissance. He was twice married; his first wife, Yolande DuBois, the daughter of W.E.B. DuBois, left him due to his sexual desire for other men, a subtle theme in his poetry. The collection contains correspondence and writings.

James Langston Hughes (1902-1967), the eminent African American poet, was thought to be homosexual, although he remained intensely private about his sexuality. A prolific writer, he is particularly known for his depiction of black life in America from the 1920s through the 1960s. His papers contain letters, manuscripts, photographs, personal items, clippings, artworks, and objects.

Jared French (1905-1988), a painter who specialized in the medium of egg tempera, was part of a circle of friends including Paul Cadmus and George Tooker, a group of artists sometimes referred to as “magic realists.” The French papers contain correspondence, photographs, and other materials documenting the life and career of French and his friends and collaborators. The papers include over 500 photographs from the PaJaMa collective.

George Platt Lynes (1907-1955) is best known as a portrait, fashion, and nude photographer. His diaries record his life as a photographer and his travels with Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler. His scrapbooks present images that influenced him as a photographer, coupled with examples of his own work, culled mostly from fashion magazines.

Sam Steward (1909-1993) was an American writer, university professor, tattoo artist, and pornographer, who spent most of his life in Chicago and, later, Oakland.  His diaries, journals, photographs, and “stud list” provide an extensive record of his sex life and insight into mid-century American sexual culture, particularly among sailors and other working-class men.  His papers include his extensive erotica oeuvre and correspondence with his friends Gertrude Stein, Alfred Kinsey, and George Platt Lynes, among others.

The American surrealist Charles Henri Ford (1913-2002) was both an influential writer and an editor. In 1933 he published The Young and the Evil and later edited the journals Blues and View. The Ford Papers contain his correspondence with writers and artists who contributed to Blues and View from 1928-1947, some of the illustrations and manuscripts that later appeared in Ford’s two magazines, and a few drafts of Ford’s writing.

Donald Windham (1920-2010), an American novelist (Two People, 1965) and memoirist (Lost Friendships, 1987), was a close friend and confidant of Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Pavel Tchelitchew, Paul Cadmus, Glenway Wescott, George Platt Lynes, and other major gay writers, painters, and artists.  His life partner of 45 years, the actor and publisher Sandy Campbell (1922-1988), published several of Windham’s books though the Stamperia Valdonega.  Their journals, datebooks, and extensive correspondence provide remarkable insight into gay social and literary circles.

The papers of William Miller (1921-1995), a designer, Kinsey associate, and intimate friend of several notable artists, include correspondence, appointment books, and other materials documenting his personal life from 1943 to 1995, with the bulk dating from the early 1940s through the 1960s. His appointment books document activities from 1944 to 1969 and serve as diaries that include coded entries on sexual activities.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an American novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and civil rights activist, whose writing dealt primarily with racial and sexual issues in the mid-twentieth-century United States. The Baldwin Papers contain material documenting a short period of Baldwin’s young adult life between 1941-1945, when Baldwin was just beginning his literary career. The papers include various drafts of Baldwin’s “Crying Holy,” which culminated in his first novel Go Tell it on the Mountain, published in 1953. A selection of images can be found in the Beinecke digital library: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/baldwin.html

Donald Amador (1942-1992) was a gay rights activist who served as Los Angeles Mayor Thomas Bradley’s liaison to the gay community. His papers include numerous letters from the mayor’s constituents on gay rights issues, which illuminate the attitudes of ordinary people in the 1970s, as well as other correspondence, office files, photographs, printed material, and other papers documenting his work in city government and the gay rights movement.

James Ingram Merrill (1926–1995) was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, essayist, novelist and playwright. His memoir, A Different Person (1993), is a candid portrait of gay life in the early 1950s. The collection consists of writings, correspondence, photographs, slides, audiocassettes, artwork, printed material, and other papers documenting aspects of his work as a poet and writer.

Larry Kramer (b. 1935) is a playwright, author, and AIDS and gay rights activist. The author of a novel, Faggots (1978), and an acclaimed play The Normal Heart (1985), he was co-founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in 1982 and one of the founders of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987.

Edmund White (b. 1940), a celebrated novelist, essayist, and cultural critic, has written biographies of Jean Genet, Marcel Proust, and Arthur Rimbaud, several volumes of memoirs, and numerous novels, including A Boy’s Own Story (1982) and Hotel de Dream (2007). The collection includes personal and professional correspondence, manuscripts, research files, biographical material, financial papers, photographs, slides, audiovisual material, and ephemera.

From 1985 until his death, photographer Robert Giard (1939-2002) photographed more than 600 gay and lesbian authors in the United States, including Adrienne Rich, Michael Cunningham, Allen Ginsberg, and Sapphire. The collection includes his archive of 1500 prints and negatives, along with correspondence, diaries, and related papers. A selection of images is on the Beinecke website: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html

Over 15,000 books, magazines, photographs, postcards, and items of ephemera document the ways in which gender has been defined, redefined, and bent over the past 200+ years. Gathered by collector Laura Bailey, the material documents forms of transgressive gender presentation from cowgirls to transsexuals and almost everything in-between. Acquired in 2010, this collection is in the process of preparation for public access. Please contact the curator to learn more.

The Parisian Underworld

The Beinecke’s numerous holdings documenting the dynamic sexual and popular culture of interwar Paris include nearly complete runs of Police (1930-39) and Voila (1931-40), two weekly tabloids that frequently reported on criminality, scandalous nightlife, and marginal sexualities. Both of them chronicled queer life in the city, a subject taken up in fictional works such as Michel du Coglay’s Chez les mauvais garcons (1937) and Charles-Etienne’s Notre-Dame de Lesbos: roman de mœurs (1919) and investigated by sexological works such as Homosexualite chez l’homme et chez la femme (1920).

Through the Second World War. Typically distributed through barber shops and cigar stores, and among teenagers at schools, Tijuana bibles frequently depicted celebrities, public officials, and popular comic book characters in sexually compromising situations. The Beinecke holds over 200 of these comics under the auspices of the Richard Merkin collection and its General collection. [To locate the bibles, search using the term “Tijuana bible” on Orbis and Beinecke Uncataloged Acquisitions database.]

Men’s Magazines

“Men’s magazines” were American pulp magazines popular from the 1950s through the 1970s. Sensationalistic and vividly illustrated, they featured stories about men’s sexual escapades in exotic lands as well as about how they survived natural disasters and WWII prisoner of war camps. Their covers are rich sources for the visual culture of masculinity, war, race, and sexuality. The Beinecke holds 42 issues of these magazines, including 24 different titles (such as Male, Man’s Illustrated, Man’s Life, Real Combat Stories, and Stag) spanning the years between 1955 and 1975.  Request these magazines through a reference librarian.

Briggs Initiative Collection

The Briggs Initiative was a 1978 California state ballot measure designed to ban lesbians and gay men from teaching in the California public school system. Spearheaded by Orange County state legislator John Briggs, the controversial measure was ultimately defeated by a massive grass-roots movement led by Harvey Milk and other activists. This collection includes pamphlets, newsletters, and campaign letters, which document the arguments and tactics used by the initiative’s opponents. [To find, search for “collection of material related to the Briggs Initiative on the Beinecke Uncataloged Acquisitions database.]