The Stonewall Riots were a pivotal moment in LGBTQ history. After the riots that took place at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, the LGBTQ civil rights movement grew from a handful of pioneering activists to a national movement mobilizing millions.
The New York Public Library has one of the premier collections of LGBTQ history in the world. These collections include the published record of both academic and popular literature, rare books, little magazines, historic newspapers, and major archives. Explore our collections using the Stonewall 50 Research Guide.
The Library also intensively collects the social history of the AIDS crisis, which has disastrously impacted LGBTQ communities.
Highlights include archives, papers, and collections pertaining to: ACT UP New York, James Baldwin, the In the Life Archive (ITLA)/Black Gay and Lesbian Archive (BGLA), William S. Burroughs, Martin B. Duberman, Gay Activists Alliance, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen gay history papers and photographs, International Gay Information Center, Jonathan Ned Katz, the LGBTQ Periodicals Collection, Charles Ludlam, Mattachine Society of New York, Walt Whitman, and Virginia Woolf.
Learn more about the Library’s 50th anniversary commemorations of the Stonewall Riots, including special podcast episodes, NYPL publications, and our “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50” exhibition.
Explore the papers, archives, and collections of Black LGBTQ individuals housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. These archival collections span from the early 1920s into the 21st century and document the lives of activists, writers, performers, and organizations.
The Queer Studies Collections in the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center include over 20 collections from the period 1921–2014. These collections include personal papers of Black LGBTQIA people and organizations, including the Gay Men of African Descent records, the In the Life Archive (ITLA)/Black Gay and Lesbian Archive (BGLA), and the Jamaica Gay Freedom Movement records.
The official theme of NYC Pride 2021 is “The Fight Continues,” with organizers focusing on issues that particularly or disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community, including the pandemic, police brutality, violence against trans people of color, economic hardship, climate disasters, and disenfranchisement. Explore items in the Schomburg Center’s collections that highlight these subjects. (Image: SAGE)
Find out what the Schomburg Center is doing to chronicle the experiences of Black communities of COVID-19, including archiving websites that document racial disparities in health outcomes and access, the impact on Black-owned businesses, mutual aid efforts, educational resources, and cultural production. Explore the relationship between Black LGBTQ communities and law enforcement in the Cheryl Clarke papers and the Stonewall Veterans Association materials contained in the Stormé DeLarverie papers. Plus, discover more about the economic hardships that disproportionately affect LGBTQ seniors in the SAGE Harlem Legend in My Living Room transcripts.
In 2020, the Library added thousands of images by the photographer and artist Diana Davies to our Digital Collections, including underseen and alternate views of 1960s and 1970s New York LGBTQ activism. These photographs are significant in their own right as a pictorial history of LGBTQ political activism. hey also provide an entry point to a media history of the fight for social justice.
This expanded digital collection includes over 300 photographs taken during the Christopher Street Liberation Day March on June 28, 1970, which was the first anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and many new portraits of Davies’s subjects, including Donna Gottschalk, Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargeant, Barbara Gittings, Marsha P. Johnson, and an attempt to break the world record for kissing.
Davies was active in the Gay Liberation Front, and her work appears in every issue of Come Out! published in 1970. These issues are available from home in page-turnable format through the Archives of Sexuality and Gender.
The Library houses hundreds of the photos and papers of gay civil rights pioneers and activists Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen, including images that document the gay rights movement before and after the Stonewall Riots.
Barbara Gittings (1932–2007) and Kay Tobin Lahusen (1930–2021) were gay civil rights pioneers and partners for nearly 46 years. The collection contains their personal and professional papers, photographs by Lahusen created in the course of 45 years of gay rights activism, and the extensive collection of materials they gathered and preserved to document the movement. The collection also includes Gittings’s extensive correspondence with fellow activists, most notably Frank Kameny, records of her editorial work on The Ladder, interviews conducted for Lahusen’s book, The Gay Crusaders, and organizational files from their work in such organizations as the Daughters of Bilitis and several other early homophile groups; the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association; the Gay Activists Alliance; and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The Library’s collection of Robert Giard’s beautiful photographic portraits includes over 200 images of leading LGBTQ writers, including Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Quentin Crisp, Sapphire, Vito Russo, and Joy Harjo.
Robert Giard (1939–2002) was a self-taught photographer of landscapes and nudes, but it is for his portraiture that he is now best known. After seeing Larry Kramer's 1985 play The Normal Heart, Giard set about photographing gay and lesbian writers and activists. Against the backdrop of the escalating AIDS crisis and growing public hysteria, Giard sought out those from whom he derived strength and inspiration. The resulting archive includes significant figures from before the Stonewall era and his own contemporaries, and each image highlights the individuality of its subject. Aptly titled Particular Voices, Giard's photographs form a collective portrait, while resisting homogenizing or simplifying the gay and lesbian community. The New York Public Library began acquiring these portraits in 1990, adding to its already significant holdings of LGBTQ materials. MIT Press published a selection of these portraits in 1997, and the following year the Library mounted Particular Voices: Robert Giard's Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, an exhibition of 110 prints from this collection.
The Carl Van Vechten Slides collection contains approximately 2,800 color slides of dancers (primarily ballet) photographed by Carl Van Vechten in his studio, from 1940 to 1964.
Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) was a writer, promoter of African American artists during the Harlem Renaissance, patron of the arts, and photographer. He photographed and was pictured with many literary figures, stage and screen stars and others. His papers, also held at the Library, document his literary and artistic circle of friends and colleagues. An avid collector, Van Vechten retained the letters of prominent individuals who corresponded with him, including Ralph Barton, James Branch Cabell, Arthur Davidson Ficke, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Donald Gallup, Langston Hughes, Edward Jablonski, Klaus Jonas, James Weldon Johnson, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Bruce Kellner, Saul Mauriber, H. L. Mencken, Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, Florine Stettheimer, and Henrietta Stettheimer.
When you donate to NYPL's LGBTQ Initiative, you provide critical funds to help the Library build, preserve, and increase access to its LGBTQ collections not only for New Yorkers, but for people across the country and around the world.