Microform Collections

The papers of several important LGBT organizations, selected materials from the collections of several community-based LGBT archives, and hundreds of lesbian and gay periodicals from across the globe are available on microform.   This page provides a brief guide to the eleven most extensive such microform collections owned by Yale.  Yale’s microform collections may be consulted in the Microtext Reading Room in the basement of Sterling Memorial Library. Overviews of the collections are available at: http://microformguides.gale.com/BrowseBySubject.shtml. Scroll down to “Cultural Studies”; go to “Gay Rights Movement” and then the list of eleven series.  Detailed finding aids may be found in the Microtext Reading Room.

For location and opening hours of the Microtext Reading Room, go to:http://www.library.yale.edu/libraries/microform.html

Organizational Records

From the New York Public Library

The Mattachine Society, founded in 1950, was the first major homophile organization in the United States. The New York chapter of the Mattachine Society, founded in 1955, eventually became an autonomous organization and, in the 1960s, the country’s largest gay rights group.  It sponsored discussion groups, lectures, and research projects, and in the 1960s it organized campaigns to end police entrapment, the closing of gay bars, employment discrimination, and police harassment. Papers consist of organizational records of the Mattachine Society of New York in the form of reports, memoranda, correspondence, minutes of committee meetings, photographs, and financial records. These document religious and health matters, media coverage, demonstrations, court cases involving entrapment and gay bars, campaigns against the state sodomy law, dealings with the City Commission on Human Rights, and investigations of complaints against policemen through the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The collection includes extensive correspondence between officers of the New York chapter and individuals and sister organizations across the United States, including the Student Homophile League and Daughters of Bilitis.

From the New York Public Library

Founded in December 1969 by dissidents from the Gay Liberation Front, the GAA was a militant, highly organized, non-partisan gay liberation organization.  Famous for its “zaps” (direct confrontations) of government and media officials, it rapidly became New York’s largest and most visible gay group.  During its most active period (1970-1974), it worked to repeal New York’s sodomy law, pass gay rights legislation, end police entrapment and harassment, expand the national gay movement, and create a new gay culture through study groups, cultural events, and weekly dances held at its headquarters, The Firehouse.  Papers include detailed minutes of weekly general membership meetings, which document the group’s plans, debates, and tactics; correspondence with gay groups forming on campuses and in cities across the country; documentation of antigay discrimination in housing and employment and of the GAA’s efforts to pass a gay rights law; questionnaires returned by candidates for office; surveys of how homosexuality was addressed in college curricula; and an extensive collection of gay liberation flyers and press clippings from across the country. 

From the New York Public Library

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was formed in 1987 to press for faster government approval of new, experimental AIDS drugs and for pharmaceutical companies to reduce the price of AIDS-related medications. Its demonstrations against the mayor, the cardinal, Wall Street, the National Institutes of Health, drug companies, and other targets mobilized thousands of people, drew extensive media attention, and led to dramatic changes in the way drug testing is organized in the United States. 

The collection consists of memoranda, correspondence, ephemera, posters and placards, meeting minutes, and clipping files that document strategies, actions, demonstrations, and zaps. There is an extensive collection of medical and pharmaceutical information, including reports of clinical trials, testing and treatment, alternative and holistic counseling, drug development, and experimental treatment. International Conferences on AIDS, including AIDS in Africa, are well documented. There is an extensive collection of subject files on topics such as arts, education, legal issues, policy and law, AIDS in the workplace, records of the Latino caucus, life insurance, health insurance, human rights, safer sex campaigns, IV drug users, media, prison, public opinion polls, and women’s health issues. Included in the collection are newsletters and printed materials from other ACT UP chapters nationally and internationally.

From the Human Sexuality Collection, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library -

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was founded in New York in 1973 to campaign for the civil rights of lesbians and gay men across the United States.  The Task Force worked to have the American Psychiatric Association remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, to end the federal government’s ban on civilian employment and then military service, to coordinate national campaigns against antigay violence, to pressure the federal government to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to train and support local activists. 

The collection consists of the organizational records of NGLTF, which document its work on numerous issues, including antigay violence, families, marriage, domestic partnership, discrimination, privacy, AIDS, campus life, and gays in the military. Extensive subject files provide information on demonstrations, legislation, government lobbying, elections, religion, youth, and many other topics. The records also include extensive correspondence with activists, members of Congress, and others, as well as the records of the Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference.

From the London School of Economics Library

The Hall-Carpenter Archives, founded in 1982, is the largest repository of material for the study of gay activism in Britain. This collection contains the papers of the Albany Trust, the Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS), and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE).  The Homosexual Law Reform Society, founded in 1964, is one of the oldest gay rights groups in the United Kingdom. The Committee for Homosexual Equality, established in 1969, grew out of the HLRS and was renamed the Campaign for Homosexual Equality in 1971. Albany Trust was established in 1958 to complement the work of the HLRS. Initially focusing on gay men’s psychological health, Albany Trust developed into a pioneering counseling, research and education agency for gay men, lesbians, and transgendered people. The collection consists of organizational papers, correspondence, leaflets, pamphlets, papers of prominent individuals, ephemera, publications, and press clippings from 1958-1984. The collection includes contextual information on the Sexual Offences Act (1967) including public attitude studies; consultations with churches; surveys and research on psychological health and counseling needs; and detailed records on the training of counselors, social workers, and youth workers.

From the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University

The Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance (ALFA) was founded in 1972 by a group of radical lesbians and disbanded in 1994. This collection includes the organizational records of ALFA as well as other southern organizations, such as Lucina’s Music/Orchid Productions, Radio Free Georgia (WRFG) women’s programming, the womonwrites conference for lesbian writers and publishers, the Southern Women’s Music festival, the Atlanta Socialist-Feminist Women’s Union, and Dykes for the Second American Revolution (DAR II).  It offers a selection of rare grassroots newsletters, journals, and periodicals. The extensive subject files document other feminist, lesbian, and activist organizations and events. ALFA’s activities are well documented in the self-produced monthly newsletter, “The Atalanta.”

From the Lesbian Herstory Archives, Brooklyn

The Lesbian Herstory Archives, established in 1973, houses the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their communities. Among its many collections, the archive contains over 1,000 subject files that offer a wealth of information on lesbian life, communities, and activism since the 1950s, with a focus on the 1970s-1990s.  Subject files provide information on African-American lesbians, lesbian mothers, gay civil rights, women’s liberation movement, domestic partnership, older lesbians, and Native American lesbians, along with many other subjects. The files contain clippings, flyers, brochures, conference materials, reports, correspondence, and other printed ephemera.


Selected Periodicals and Newsletters from the holdings of the GLBT Historical Society (106 reels) 

From the GLBT Historical Society, San Francisco

A collection of 8,000 issues of more than 200 different newsletters, newspapers, and magazines held by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, founded in 1985.   This collection concentrates on publications produced by LGBT activist organizations and social groups, with a particular focus on groups in the San Francisco Bay Area and greater Northern California that began their work during the formative years of the movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Titles include the Society for Individual Rights’s newsletter Gold Sheet (aka The Insider, San Francisco, 1967-1976), Gay Power (New York, 1969-1975), Gay Scene (1970-1986), a substantial run of newsletters from the sex-positive organization San Francisco Sex Information Center (1973-1996), Sisters (1971-1975), and newsletters from local chapters of national gay and lesbian organizations, such as Daughters of Bilitis and Black and White Men Together.

Selected Newspapers and Periodicals from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Historical Society, Parts 1-3 (67 reels)

From the GLBT Historical Society, San Francisco

A collection of 131 different newsletters, magazines, and newspapers held by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, founded in 1985.  The collection consists of newsletters and periodicals that document community building, cultural and advocacy groups, support groups, and religious issues.  The collection includes locally produced periodicals and newsletters aimed at LGBT community building outside of major metropolitan areas in Northern California, such as Novato’s Wishing Well (1978-1986) and the newsletter of the Lesbian and Gay Resource Network of Sonoma County (1982-1984).  Cultural developments are documented in publications such as the complete nine-issue run of Gay Olympics (1981-1982), the newsletter of the first Gay Games. Also included are newsletters and archival documents from Frameline, the producers of the San Francisco LGBT film festival, the oldest and largest such festival in the world. Advocacy groups and professional organizations are represented in publications aimed at lawyers, physicians, veterans, educators, and businesspeople. Notable among these are the newsletters of the American Legion, Alexander Hamilton Post # 448 (1985-2003), which documents campaigns to end discrimination against gays in the military; PLAGAL, the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, formerly Gays Against Abortion (1992-1995);  the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) San Francisco (1970-1996); San Francisco’s Reform congregation, Sha’ar Zahav, the Jewish Gaily Forward; American Gay and Lesbian Atheists (1982-1995); Faerie Dish Rag (Radical Faeries, 1991-1997) and Cerunnos News: Wiccan Newsletter for the Bay Area (1982-1986). Regeneration News (1996-2004) and Wellspring (1998-2004) document the activities of the ex-gay movement.  Other materials document support and interest groups for transgender people, bisexuals, and GLBT elders, as well as African American, Latino, Asian American, and American Indian communities.

From the holdings of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, Brooklyn

The Lesbian Herstory Archives, established in 1973 to ensure the preservation of lesbian culture and history, houses the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their communities.  The extensive newsletter collection reflects the breadth of lesbian feminist organizing since the 1960s by documenting  the political analysis and work of lesbian groups as well as everyday life in the lesbian community. The titles in this collection represent a broad range of lesbian political and social activist organizations. The collection includes nearly 300 titles from groups in 46 states, including newsletters produced by lesbian and gay religious congregations, several chapters of the Daughter of Bilitis, and African American and Asian American lesbian organizations. Among the rare items are the newsletter of the Hawaiian social group Both Sides Now (1982-1990) and Lesbian Front of Jackson, Mississippi (1975-1978).

From the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, founded in 1973, is the second largest LGBT archive in the world and houses the world’s largest collection of lesbian and gay periodicals. This collection features serials from 50 countries produced since the 1960s.  In addition to the large collection of Canadian publications, there are periodicals from virtually all western European and many eastern European countries, including Poland, Russia, and Latvia, as well as numerous periodicals from Latin America, southern Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Asian publications include newsletters and periodicals from Japan (1960s-1980s) as well as short-lived publications created by gay and lesbian activists in Thailand and India in the 1980s and 1990s.

Planned Parenthood of America is a non-profit organization providing and advocating for reproductive health services. Tracing their roots to the birth control clinic founded by Margaret Sanger in 1916, Planned Parenthood and its predecessor organizations were early advocates of reproductive rights. Planned Parenthood was involved in several landmark court cases, including Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which struck down the state’s ban on birth control and helped establish a constitutional right to privacy, and Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth (1976), which challenged parental consent laws. This microform collection includes administrative records, correspondence, field reports, publicity, financial records, and legislative material from Planned Parenthood, its predecessors, and other reproductive rights organizations.

Personal Papers

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) was the leading birth control advocate in the early twentieth-century U.S. In 1916 she founded the first birth control clinic in the United States, and in 1921 she established the American Birth Control League. She was involved in New York socialist and bohemian circles in the 1910s and 1920s. This collection of her diaries, correspondence, speeches, and records of work with family planning and birth control centers is an important source for those interested in the history of birth control, reproductive rights, and eugenics as well as in Sanger and her social networks.


Throughout the twentieth century, prescriptive literature offered advice on manners, marriage, dating etiquette, and sex. This database provides access to hundreds of works in this genre, including such titles as Bed Manners: How to Bring Sunshine into Your Nights (1934), The Playboy’s Handbook: In Defense of the Bachelor (1942), and Sexual Behavior of American Nurses (1963). These works are an invaluable source for those interested in America’s changing sexual mores in the twentieth century.