Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen collection
Collection number: Coll2008-069
Gittings, Barbara, 1932-2007
Lahusen, Kay Tobin, 1932-
Collection Size: 1.1 linear feet.
(3 archive cartons).
ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
Los Angeles, California 90007
Abstract: News clippings, journal articles, pamphlets,
flyers, printed materials from activist organizations, a videocassette and a
DVD, relating to pioneering lesbian activists Barbara Gittings and her partner
of 46 years, Kay Tobin Lahusen. Active from the 1960s, Gittings marched in the
first gay rights demonstrations at the White House, Pentagon and Independence
Hall; she worked with Frank Kameny to persuade the American Psychiatric
Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders; and she
headed the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association from 1971 to
1986. The collection contains articles by and about Gittings and Lahusen;
subject files covering a variety of topics, such as religion, mental health and
education; and printed material from several activist organizations, including
the Gay Task Force of the ALA, the Homophile Action League, the Mattachine
Society, the Gay Activist Alliance and the National Gay Task Force.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection:
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in
writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner.
Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in
the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant
copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for
all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).
Box #, folder #, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Collection , Coll2008-069, ONE
National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Gift of Kay Tobin Lahusen, 2007.
Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama,
December 17, 2008.
Processing this collection has been funded
by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records
Barbara Gittings was born on July 31, 1932, in Vienna, Austria, where
her father was stationed as a United States diplomat. Returning to the U.S.,
the family eventually settled in Wilmington, Delaware. She entered Northwestern
University and soon came out as a lesbian. She left Northwestern after her
freshman year, settled in Philadelphia and supported herself with clerical
In 1958 she began her long career as a gay rights advocate when she
founded the first East Coast chapter of Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) and later
edited its national lesbian magazine,
The Ladder, from 1963 - 1966. It was around
this time when Gittings met the woman who would be her partner for 46 years,
Kay Tobin Lahusen. In the mid-1960s, Gittings marched in the first gay
demonstrations at the White House, Pentagon and Independence Hall. During the
1970s, Gittings became a charter member of the boards of directors for both the
National Gay Task Force (1973) and the Gay Rights National Lobby (1976). At
this time, she was also active in the American Psychiatric Association, running
gay exhibits at APA conferences and working with prominent gay rights activist
Dr. Frank Kameny to persuade the Association to remove homosexuality from its
list of mental disorders. Though she is not a librarian, Gittings became
involved in the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association, the first
gay caucus in a professional association. From 1971 to 1986, she headed the
group and campaigned to get positive gay and lesbian materials into libraries
and out to users and to end discrimination against gay library workers and
patrons. In 2003, the ALA awarded her with a lifetime honorary membership.
Kay Tobin Lahusen is a photojournalist, writer and activist who was born
in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1932. She later moved to Boston, where she worked in the
reference library of the Christian Science Monitor.
Her life as a gay rights activist began in 1961 when she joined the
Daughters of Bilitis, where she met the woman who would become her life
partner, Barbara Gittings. Soon after, she moved to Philadelphia to live with
Gittings. During the mid-1960s, Lahusen marched in the earliest picket lines
for gay rights, and in 1970, she became one of the founding members of the Gay
Activists Alliance in New York. She also worked in the Oscar Wilde Memorial
Bookshop, wrote for the newspaper,
Gay, and was active in the Gay Task Force of
the American Library Association. In 1972, she co-authored a book of
biographies of gay activists,
The Gay Crusaders (1972).
Throughout their lives, Gittings and Lahusen continued to advocate for
gay rights causes. Their 46-year partnership ended on February 18, 2007 when
Gittings died of breast cancer at the age of 74 at their home in
Scope and Content of Collection
The Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Collection contains news
clippings, journal articles, flyers, pamphlets, a DVD videodisc, a VHS
videocassette, and other materials related to Gittings and Lahusen's activities
in the gay and lesbian liberation movement. The collection is divided into two
series: (1) Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Personal Materials, and (2)
Organizational and Subject Files. The bulk of the Barbara Gittings and Kay
Tobin Lahusen Personal Materials series consists of photocopies of their
personal papers, including articles and speeches written by them; other
materials include correspondence, and news clippings referencing them. The
Organizational and Subject Files series contains news clippings, journal
articles, a VHS videotape, a DVD videodisc, and other materials related to
Gittings' work on the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association;
advocacy on behalf of prominent gay rights activist Frank Kameny; public
outreach and education on gay and lesbian issues; and participation in a number
of gay rights organizations. The series also includes subject files on such
topics as mental health and psychiatry, university education, employment
discrimination, families, and religion.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Lahusen, Kay Tobin, 1932-
Gay activists--United States--History
Gay and lesbian rights
Gay liberation movement
Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Gay History Papers and
Photographs, Archives and Manuscripts Division, New York Public Library, Astor,
Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
The following publications have been separated from the Barbara Gittings
and Kay Tobin Lahusen collection and entered into the ONE National Gay &
Lesbian Archives' database:
Tobin, Kay and Randy Wicker.
The Gay Crusaders. New York: Paperback
Armed Forces Informer
Capitol Hill: The Newsletter of the Gay Rights
Central Michigan Gayzette
Come Out! A Newspaper By and For the Gay
Concern: Newsletter of the Southern California
Council on Religion and the Homophile
Daughters of Bilitis / New York
Daughters of Bilitis Philadelphia Chapter
Dorian Collumns: Dorian Society of
Eastern Mattachine Magazine
Focus: Orange County
Gay Academic Union Journal: Gai Saber
The Gay Alternative
The Gay Blade
Gayzette: The Weekly Philadelphia
Homophile Action League Newsletter
Homosexual Counseling Journal: The Quarterly Journal
of the Homosexual Community Counseling Center
Interchange: National Gay Student Center
Mattachine Midwest Newsletter
Metropolitan Community Church: Community News
New Gay Life
New York Mattachine Newsletter
On the Line: The Newsletter of the Gay Rights
One: The Homosexual Viewpoint
One-to-One: A Lesbian / Feminist Journal of
The Phoenix: Midwest Homophile Voice
Pursuit & Symposium
Wicce: A Lesbian / Feminist Newspaper