Scope and Content
Title: Ellen Lewin Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1977-1981
Collection Identifier: 1992-03
Extent: 7.5 linear feet
Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Historical Society
657 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
The Ellen Lewin Papers (1992-03) were donated by Lewin in 1992 to GLBTHS.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
[Identification of item], Ellen Lewin Papers, The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
The interviews included in this collection are part of a research project on lesbian mothers that Ellen Lewin first conceived
for her doctoral dissertation in 1975. At this time Lewin felt that she must be somewhat secretive about her topic -- she
deliberately excluded the word "lesbian" from an early grant proposal. She conducted interviews of single mothers, both lesbian
and heterosexual, between 1977 and 1981. Her project reached maturity at a time of much greater acceptance of lesbian and
gay studies: in 1993 her book,
Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture, was published by Cornell University Press. She donated her interview transcripts to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society
Scope and Content
The collection is comprised of six boxes of interviews, each numbered according to which group in the sampling design a particular
interview belongs. The sampling design uses the following categories: sexual orientation (self-identified as lesbian or heterosexual);
relationship status (i.e., whether the mother lived with a partner or not); socioeconomic status (SES); and whether the mother
had her child in a marital situation (formerly married or never married). Lewin speaks in detail about these independent variables
in the appendix to her book. A copy of the appendix, as well as bibliographic information about the book, is included at the
end of the finding aid.
The code numbers for the interviews were assigned as follows:
- Upper SES, formerly married
- Middle SES, formerly married
- Lower SES, formerly married
- Upper SES, never married
- Middle SES, never married
- Lower SES, never married
Within all groups, numbers 1-49 were lesbian; numbers 50-99 were heterosexual; odd numbers designated women without co-residential
partners; even numbers designated women who lived with partners. For example, # 105 would indicate an upper SES formerly married
lesbian who does not have a co-residential partner. The use of the term married refers only to heterosexual marriage.
Most interviews are approximately 100 pages long. Personal names in the transcripts are rendered with initials. The interviewer's
name is indicated by her initials: EL means Ellen Lewin; TL means Terrie Lyons. At the end of each interview, the interviewer
includes 5-15 pages of notes which describe her impressions of the respondent and the dynamics of the interview. Some of the
interviews include a topic notation sheet, which indicates where in the interview certain topics are discussed. Topics covered
in the interviews include general background about the respondent's childhood and relationships with her family members, stories
of deciding to get divorced and/or coming out, reasons for having children, the child's relationship with his or her father
and/or the respondent's lover, different experiences of discrimination and stigmatization, child care and financial concerns,
as well as the pleasures of being a single mother.
Title: Del Martin/Phyllis Lyon Papers
Identifier/Call Number: #93-13