The New York Public Library’s Archives Are a Treasure Trove of Queer History

The New York Public Library’s Archives Are a Treasure Trove of Queer History

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You may have heard about the digitized archives available to the public at the New York Public Library, but we were so overwhelmed by all the cool artwork that we nearly overlooked the masses of fascinating LGBTQ archives and queer content inside.

Among its 188,000 items, there are four collections that really stand out: 200 photos of gay and lesbian writers (and their dogs); items from the International Gay Information Center, which ran from 1969-1988; 366 photos of protests, rallies, and other political movements by Diana Davies and, largest of all, over 900 photos from the personal collection of lesbian activists Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen.

Here are some of our favorite images, including photos of the trans women who started the Stonewall Riots, as well as parties and protests galore!

Check out some of the photographs detailing queer life available in the LGBTQ archives of the New York Public Library:

Marsha P. Johnson picketing outside Bellevue Hospital

When gay activists protested mafia control of the bar scene, counter-protesters came out in defense of Mike, owner of Christopher’s End

Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society Christmas Party, 1951

The “Rockefeller Five,“ members of the Gay Activist Alliance, with their attorney, 1970

Kay Tobin, “Picket At Pentagon, 1965”

Barbara Gittings, who created the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis

Sylvia Rivera

The “Hug A Homosexual” booth at the American Library Association annual meeting

New York City Protestors

Gay Activist Alliance dance party, 1971

Protest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC, 1969

The Gay Liberation Front in Times Square, 1969

Gay Liberation Front picketing the offices of Time magazine, 1969

American Psychiatric Association Meeting, 1978

Picketers Assemble in New York

Richard Wandel, “March on Albany, 1971”

What do you think of this look at the LGBTQ Archives of the New York Public Library?


This article was originally published on March 12, 2020. It has since been updated.

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