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LGBTQIA+ collections in the Manuscripts and Archives division: Personal collections

What are personal papers?

Personal papers are collections of documents and materials, sometimes from individuals or families. They might include letters, diaries, photographs, drawings, printed material, files, financial records, and objects. 

Although these are based around the lives of individuals, they often document organizational activities by association; this may be the case when the personal collection documents the activists heavily engaged in political entities.


Orange flyer with black text that reads "A Gay Bibliography"

Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Gay History Papers and Photographs. Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "A Gay Bibliography" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1971-06. 

Collections related to the AIDS/HIV crisis

Lawrence Mass papers, 1958–2008
14 linear feet. Personal and professional correspondence of a physician and writer, co-founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, living in New York City.

Aldyn McKean papers, 1978–1994 
3.4 linear feet. Aldyn McKean (1948–1994), a gay rights and AIDS activist, was a founding member, spokesman, and grassroots organizer for ACT UP. His papers contain administrative files, writings, correspondence, printed matter, video recordings, and artifacts documenting his participation in several AIDS activist organizations.

David Louis Bowie diaries, 1978–1993 
1 linear foot. Illustrated diaries of the daily activities and sexual encounters of a Queens resident who died of AIDS-related causes. (Restrictions apply.)

Bradley Ball papers, 1985–1994 
1 linear foot. Journal, correspondence, and writings of the first recording secretary of ACT UP, who died of AIDS-related causes in 1995.

Pre-Stonewall era collections

Leo Adams papers, 1928–1952 
1 linear feet. Both gay and straight correspondents make reference to gay life in the United States in the pre-Stonewall era.

Lockett Ford Ballard papers, 1944–1945, 1967–2000 
12.4 linear feet. Correspondence and professional papers of the museum administrator, whose correspondence particularly documents his social life during the early gay liberation movement.

Ted Bloecher papers, 1950–2000 
15.5 linear feet. Correspondence, personal journals, writings, theater memorabilia, and reference files reflecting the daily life of an actor and singer in New York City, gay life before and after the Stonewall Riots, and thirty years of UFO research.

During and post-Stonewall era collections

Karen Umminger and Sara Strandtman papers, 1992 
.67 linear feet. Videotapes, wedding ephemera, and copies of print media document the wedding of this lesbian couple and the controversy it sparked after their wedding announcement appeared in the local newspaper.

Dorothee Gore papers, 1904–1982 
4.6 linear feet. The collection includes personal letters and notes, scrapbooks, photographs, and memorabilia documenting her personal life and her life in the women’s military during World War II.

Elizabeth Wade White papers, 1901–1994 
9 linear feet. Elizabeth Wade White (1906–1994) was an author, self taught scholar, amateur poet, and activist. Her papers document her passion for political action and the welfare of others, as well as the difficulties of coming to terms with her sexuality and her position in life.

Jeanne Manford papers, 1972–1995 
1 linear ft. Correspondence, memoranda, flyers, photographs, speeches, and printed material relating to her work as a founder of the organization that came to be known as Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Israel David Fishman papers, 1970–1997 
5 linear feet. Correspondence, notes, ephemera, and printed materials of Israel David Fishman, a founding leader of the American Library Association Task Force on Gay Liberation.

Roger Austen papers, 1977–1984 
1 linear foot. Manuscripts and correspondence of the literary historian and biographer of the 19th century homosexual writer Charles Warren Stoddard.

Arthur Bell papers, 1970–1978
2 linear feet. Research notes and press clippings reflect the career of this freelance journalist reporting on the gay liberation movement, including an interview with Christopher Isherwood. Bell’s activities as chairman of the publicity committee of the Gay Activists Alliance are also documented.

Copy Berg papers, 1890s–1998 
62 linear feet, 75 sound recordings, and 14 videotapes. Correspondence, art work, photographs, and other materials of this artist and gay rights activist who publicly challenged the U.S. Navy's decision to discharge him due to his homosexuality.

Billy Wilder Blackwell papers, 1969–1974
1.7 linear feet. The theatrical performer and director’s scrapbooks of press clippings document both mainstream and gay press coverage of the gay rights movement from 1969–1974.

Charles Boultenhouse and Parker Tyler papers, 1927–1994 
12 linear feet. Correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials documenting Boultenhouse and Tyler’s involvement in and contribution to the arts, their social life with friends and colleagues, and their relationship of almost thirty years.

Perry Brass papers, 1968–1974 
.42 linear feet. The papers include a private journal, literary and college notebooks, scripts of poems, and other writings of this author and gay rights activist.

Howard J. Brown papers, 1924–1974 
ca. 8 linear feet. Brown, who came out in 1973, was one of the organizers of the National Gay Task Force, a New York City Health Services Administrator, and author of Familiar Faces, Hidden Lives.

Marvin Liebman papers, 1990–1996 
.84 linear feet. A conservative strategist and fund raiser for the Republican Party, Liebman came out as gay in 1990. Papers consist chiefly of drafts of his memoir, I've Been Everywhere But Home (published in 1992 with the title Coming Out Conservative), other writings, and a videotaped interview.

Boyd Masten photograph album, circa 1978 
.21 linear feet. A photograph album, ca. 1978, depicting Boyd Masten and his friends on Fire Island, New York.