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   Columbia LGBT records 1961-1990 [Bulk dates: 1967-1989]

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Columbia LGBT Records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

The collection consists of newspaper clippings, publications, correspondence, memos, meeting minutes, and promotional material related to the activities and interests of Columbia's LGBT student groups. It also contains some syllabi, reading material on homosexuality, financial statements, surveys, and a few photographs.

At a Glance

Call No.:UA#0238
Bib ID:6228537 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Columbia University. Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Alliance.
Title:Columbia LGBT records 1961-1990 [Bulk dates: 1967-1989]
Physical description:8 linear ft. (8 record cartons)
Language(s): Materials entirely in English.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in 7 series:

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Description

Scope and Content

This collection extensively documents the activities of Columbia's nationally and internationally recognized LGBT student groups from the establishment of the Student Homophile League in 1967 through 1990. The collection offers insight into gay life at Columbia University and includes extensive correspondence containing frequent requests for information about making social contacts in the gay community and from researchers of all ages looking for assistance with their projects on topics related to homosexuality. Through collected subject files, the collection also documents gay life on other university campuses in the 1970s. Lastly, the contents of this collection also bear witness to the rise of queer studies in university curricula via syllabi and readings from the "gay study group" in the 1980s.

Series I: Governing Documents, 1972-1989

This series contains ratified constitutions and procedural rules for Gay People at Columbia (GPC), Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA), and Lesbian and Gays of Barnard and Columbia (LGBC). Organized chronologically, the series also contains annotated copies and drafts reflecting changes to the group's stated mission and by-laws across two decades.

Series II: Student Homophile League, 1966-1973

This series contains governing documents, membership lists, event flyers, meeting minutes, internal memos and correspondence for the Student Homophile League (SHL), the first collegiate gay student organization in the country, founded in 1967 by Stephen Donaldson (a.k.a. Robert A. Martin). Correspondence includes communications with gay-identified individuals requesting information about connecting to other homosexuals either in their hometowns or in New York City as well as young men interested in information about draft deferment. Also of interest is a letter of support from the critic Eric Bentley, Brander Matthews Professor of Dramatic Literature at Columbia University. At the end of the series is a 1982 letter from Robert A. Martin offering his account of the founding of the Student Homophile League as well as SHL's participation in the 1968 strike at Columbia University. In addition to office records, this series also includes documents relating to the homophile movement outside of Columbia University. These materials include pamphlets, clippings and resolutions addressing the national homophile movement as well as memos, informational fliers and addresses from other chapters of the Student Homophile League established after Columbia's chapter, which operated as the center of the organization.

Series III: Office Records, 1972-1989

This series includes official and draft meeting minutes, proceedings reports, financial statements, internal memos and attendance sheets for Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA). Memos include detailed and personal letters of recommendation of board members. Two separate folders consist of governing documents, meeting minutes and memos from the Student Governing Board (SGB) concerning internal operations and its relation to the Earl Hall Center, which sponsored and housed Gay People at Columbia (GPC). With SHL founder Robert Martin as SGB chairperson in the mid-1970s, GPC joined other student groups in 1977 in temporarily withdrawing their membership from SGB because of conflicts over director J. Paul Martin's management of SGB.

Series IV: Activities, 1967-1989

Arranged in four subseries, this series documents the various activities pursed by the Student Homophile League (SHL), Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA).

Subseries IV.1: Earl Hall Dances, 1970-1986

Organized chronologically, this subseries consists of event fliers, income statements, inventories, receipts, ticket sale reports, and handwritten memos for the gay dances organized by the Student Homophile League (SHL), Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB), and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) in the 1970s and 1980s. The earliest material dates to 1970, when the organization was still known as the Student Homophile League. These dances were well known throughout New York City's gay community and were attended by non-students as well as Columbia students. The final folder in the subseries consists of a blank copy of a 1986 questionnaire in which dance attendees are asked to provide personal information, evaluate their experiences of the dances and suggest improvements.

Subseries IV.2: Education, 1968-1987

This subseries consists of materials pertaining to educational programming and research initiatives completed by Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA). The subseries is organized by educational event type, with folder contents organized chronologically. The first files consist of fliers, handouts, syllabi and readings for discussion groups organized by GPCB and CGLA, specifically consciousness raising groups in the 1970s and study groups in the 1980s. Some of the readings are annotated. Following the discussion group materials are memos, fliers, discussion plans, and reports for GPCB's "floor raps," in which GPCB members would lead an information session about homosexuality to residents of a dormitory floor. The memos consist of internal communications reflecting on the success of particular events as well as communications with residence staff. The following files consist of two 1973 and 1974 research initiatives, two separate blank surveys and subsequent reports about sexual experience and gay life at Columbia University. The series concludes with fliers for miscellaneous educational panels, including completed questionnaires for panels on "Coming Out" and "Gays in Business," as well as collected lecture notes, syllabi, and a proposed essay prize pertaining to gay studies at the university.

Subseries IV.3: Social, 1970-1982

This subseries consists of materials pertaining to social activities organized by Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA), divided into three categories: the gay lounge, film screenings, and miscellaneous social activities. The subseries largely consists of internal memos, correspondence, clippings, and press statements pertaining to GPCB's nationally reported struggle to achieve official administrative recognition for the gay lounge, ca. 1971-1973. This collection of materials includes communications with university deans and trustees as well as minutes from a meeting of the Board of Trustees in which GPCB member Morty Manford asked the board for assistance in receiving administrative recognition. The subseries also includes correspondence and fliers related to film screenings either organized by or receiving support from GPCB, including a handout for a post-film discussion of Boys in the Band (1970), a drama about a group of gay friends in New York City controversial for its arguable reproduction of harmful stereotypes. Invited to participate in the screening by its organizers, GPCB planned a discussion that aimed to foster a more critical take on a film the group wouldn't have personally chosen to screen due to ideological reservations. The end of the subseries consists of promotional fliers for miscellaneous social events organized by the GPCB as well as a folder of undated photos labeled "Author's Night at Lounge."

Subseries IV.4: Outreach, 1967-1989

This subseries documents Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) community engagement activities. It consists of memos, schedules, and promotional fliers documenting GPCB's involvement in freshman orientation, including two informational leaflets written by the group, "On Coming Out" and "To the Parents," and proposed revisions to statements about sexual diversity in promotional materials. There are also publicity materials, including mailing lists for GPCB's newsletter and correspondence with advertisers and invoices from The Spectator, as well as membership lists.

Series V: Correspondence, 1970-1983

This series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence collected by Gay People at Columbia (GPC). It is organized chronologically. Most of the correspondence consists of research inquiries from individuals, such as grade school students, undergraduates, graduate students, and professional researchers looking for assistance on a project about homosexuality, or personal inquiries from implicitly or explicitly gay-identified individuals looking for more information about homosexuality and opportunities for making connections with other homosexuals in their area or in New York City. Other individual inquiries concern requests for information about draft deferment. The national profile of Columbia's gay student organization, established by SHL's status as the first of its kind in the United States, helps to explain why GPC was treated as a default resource for those wishing to learn more about homosexuality or to meet other homosexuals. Of particular note is a copy of a letter sent by GPC to the poet W.H. Auden, responding to his request to learn more about GPC's activities and inviting him to a wine and cheese party in his honor at the gay lounge (the collection contains no evidence that such an event actually took place). Also included in the series are manuscript submissions to GPC's newsletter Pride of Lions and many completed questionnaires from students submitted for Pride of Lions' "The Closet" issue from 1973.

Series VI: Publications, 1962-1990

Organized into three subseries this series contains Columbia and non-Columbia publications and newspaper clippings collected by Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB), Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) and Columbia Lesbian Bi-Sexual Gay Coalition (LGBC).

Subseries VI.1: Columbia Publications, 1968-1990

This subseries consists of newspapers and magazines published by Columbia University students and collected by Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA). The series is organized alphabetically by publication title.

Subseries VI.2: Non-Columbia Publications, 1962-1990

This subseries consists of magazines, newsletters, and informational pamphlets collected by Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB), Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) and Columbia Lesbian Bi-Sexual Gay Coalition (LGBC). It is arranged alphabetically by publication title. Most of the publications are addressed to international, national or local gay communities, although some publications for a general readership are also included. The series also contains bibliographies listing books and articles about homosexuality and informational pamphlets addressing homosexuality's intersections with civil rights, religion, and health.

Subseries VI.3: Clippings, 1967-1987

This subseries consists of newspaper and magazine clippings collected by Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB), Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) and Columbia Lesbian Bi-Sexual Gay Coalition (LGBC). The material is arranged chronologically. Clippings cover a wide range of topics relating to homosexuality and bisexuality, such as civil rights, AIDS, police brutality, homophobia in political campaigns, the performing arts (including television), book reviews, gay marriage, psychiatry, and obituaries. The series includes a scrapbook of clippings from the Columbia Spectator about GPC activities (especially the gay lounge controversy), mounted in a spiral notebook.

Series VII: Subject Files, 1961-1989

Organized into two subseries, this series contains collected fliers, correspondence and informational materials on topics of interest to the gay community.

Series VII.1: General, 1964-1989

This subseries consists of collected fliers, correspondence, and informational material pertaining mostly to organizations and services which address the social, psychological medical needs of local and national gay communities. The subseries also contain files for Columbia-specific topics, such as the library, as well as Gay People at Columbia (GPC) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) communications with other publications. Maintaining the original organization of the files, the subseries is arranged alphabetically according to the organization's name or topic. Many of the folders are dedicated to gay student organizations within the United States as well as internationally.

Subseries VII.2: Politics and Activism, 1961-1989

This subseries consists of collected fliers, memos, correspondence, and news clippings pertaining to activism on behalf of gay rights and political recognition. Maintaining the original organization of the files, the subseries is arranged alphabetically according to topic or organization. The collected material focuses on the AIDS crisis, New York City Pride (especially the activities of the Christopher Street Liberation Committee in the 1970s), the Gay Liberation movement, legal reform (especially discrimination laws and sodomy laws), local New York City politics, and the Vietnam War (especially draft deferments and anti-war protests). Some of the fliers and memos indicate Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) involvement in political advocacy.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Accrual Information

No additions are expected.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Columbia LGBT Records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Central Files, 1890-1984 (UA#0001)

Historical Subject Files, 1870s-2017 (UA#0002)

Office of the Provost Records, 1939-2006 (UA#0083)

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Victoria Wiet, GSAS 2018, and Kelly Powers, CC 2018 in Summer and Fall 2017. Finding aid written by Kelly Powers and Jocelyn Wilk in October 2017.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion November 3, 2017 Finding aid written in English.
    2017-11-03 File created.

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Articles.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Clippings (information artifacts).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fliers (printed matter).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Memorandums.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Minutes (administrative records).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Publications (documents).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Surveys.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Syllabi.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Columbia University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Donaldson, Stephen, 1946-1996.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gay college students.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gay community.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lesbian college students.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manford, Morty, 1950-1992.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Martin, Robert A., 1946-1996.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sexual minorities.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

History of LGBT Student Groups at Columbia

Led by Stephen Donaldson, an openly bisexual student, Columbia students banded together to start the Columbia Student Homophile League (SHL, 1967-1970) in 1967. Columbia University was the first university in the country to officially recognize a gay student group. The name of this group has evolved over the years in response to changing views and needs of the LGBT community on campus. In 1970 the group was renamed Gay People at Columbia (GPC, 1970-1985) and was also referred to as Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPC-B) between1972-1976. In 1984-85, around the time of co-education at Columbia College, the group merged with Lesbians at Barnard to form Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA, 1985-1989). In November 1989 CGLA renamed itself Columbia Lesbian Bi-Sexual Gay Coalition (LBGC, 1989-1998) in order to be more inclusive of those who identify as bisexual. In the late 1990s the group adopted the name "Columbia Queer Alliance" (1998-present) as "queer" is considered more inclusive of the whole community.

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