Finding Aid Friday: NYC Pride Edition

NYC Pride is an annual event that marks the Stonewall Riots, an uprising against the discriminatory anti-LGBT raids conducted by the New York Police Department on the eponymous pub on June 28, 1969. The first March was held on the riot’s first anniversary. This upcoming Sunday, it’ll be a massive parade that will recognize the struggles that New York’s, the country’s, and the world’s gay communities face, memorialize those lost to AIDS and homophobic violence, and be a celebration of life.

This edition of Finding Aid Friday: NYC Pride Edition focuses on collections highlighting the GLBT experience and history in New York City.

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Lesbian Herstory Archives

First up is the finding aid for the New York Women’s Center, a lesbian safe-space/meeting house/feminist literature clearing house in the 1970s and early 80s. The collection is held by the Lesbian Herstory Archives, which has a pretty cool set of guiding principles:

Many of the Archives’ principles are a radical departure from conventional archival practices. They are inclusive and non-institutional and reveal the Archives’ commitment to living history, to housing the past along with the present. Among the basic principles guiding the Archives are:

    • All Lesbian women must have access to the Archives; no academic, political, or sexual credentials will be required for use of the collection; race and class must be no barrier for use or inclusion.
    • The Archives shall be housed within the community, not on an academic campus that is by definition closed to many women.
    • The Archives shall be involved in the political struggles of all Lesbians.
    • Archival skills shall be taught, one generation of Lesbians to another, breaking the elitism of traditional archives.
    • The community should share in the work of the Archives.
    • Funding shall be sought from within the communities the Archives serves, rather than from outside sources.
    • The community should share in the work of the Archives.
    • The Archives will always have a caretaker living in it so that it will always be someone’s home rather than an institution.
  • The Archives will never be sold nor will its contents be divided.

Lesbian Herstory Archives

The finding aid is a straight-forward, folder-level descriptive tool that is educational on its own in terms of learning about the era’s social justice activism.

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Lesbian Herstory Archives

Growing up in New York City in the 1980s and 90s — especially if you were in and around Chelsea or the Village — you knew of GMHC, Gay Men’s Health Crisis. They provided HIV testing, AIDS education and outreach, and other services geared towards the gay community being decimated by AIDS. Posters and flyers were everywhere. Rosie Perez did fundraising for them. They were HUGE back then. She was huge back then, too.

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GMHC’s papers are held by the New York Public Library. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis Records finding aid provides incredible insight into a very chaotic, traumatic, and — let’s be honest — really fucking dark era, for New York’s gay community and the whole of New York, as well. It’s a complex document with both a simple overview describing the collection and a detailed view that offers what I can best describe as “dynamic frames.”

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And then there’s the little beaker icon. Click it, then click on the “view as network” option. If you have a crappy browser, slow computer, or get dizzy easily: beware. If not: have fun! Network view lets you see the tangled mass of intersections that encompass the collection.

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Our last finding aid is also from NYPL: The International Gay Information Center photograph collection. Based in New York, the International Gay Information Center was an informal repository for literature, AV materials, and ephemera on the gay rights movement in America.

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The finding aid is old school — a word document that’s been scanned and uploaded as a PDF — and, depending on the series, has folder- and item-level descriptions. However, NYPL has been on a digitization blitz lately and uploaded photos from this collection into an online gallery.

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NYPL Digital Collections

The  best part? High quality legal downloads!

NYPL Digital Collections

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