This is a guide to primary sources on LGBTQ history that can be found in Temple University's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC).
The SCRC holds a variety of primary sources on the topic of the LGBTQ community in the Philadelphia region and beyond, in the form of archival materials and publications (newsletters, magazine, and other periodicals), created by LGBTQ organizations and individuals.
These materials document efforts to further the pursuit of LGBTQ legal and civil rights, and also provide a glimpse into the lives and concerns of this community, dating as far back as the 1960s.
Click on links for more information and to access the materials in the SCRC Reading Room.
The AIDS Library has been an important source for AIDS-related information for researchers, doctors, the general public, and those with HIV/AIDS in the Philadelphia area. In 1987, a group of volunteer librarians and AIDS activists created the AIDS Library in Philadelphia. At the AIDS Library, people could find information on treatments (both medical and alternative), nutrition, legal issues, social services in the Philadelphia area, and how to live with HIV, as well as on the history of the pandemic, referrals to regional and national resources, and connect with other HIV/AIDS activists around the world. The library is now part of Philadelphia FIGHT, a local health services organization working with people with HIV/AIDS.
City Councilman John C. Anderson was an African American and gay member of Philadelphia City Council from 1979 until his death in 1983.
Born Philadelphia, raised in Montgomery Co., PA, graduated from Abington [PA] High School. Served in the United States Marine Corps. Graduate of the School of Industrial Arts (now the University of the Arts in Philadelphia), and of the University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Fine Arts. As a gay man he actively lived the rest of his long life starting with teaching English at the Intitut Montana in Zugerberg, Switzerland, then acted as Assistant Curator of Education at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was an active supporter of the arts in Philadelphia, New York City, and London, England throughout most of his life.
In 1970, the Philadelphia Clergy Consultation Service (CCS) began training women from the Pennsylvania Abortion Rights Association (PARA) to provide pregnancy options counseling. In 1971, these women founded CHOICE (an acronym that originally stood for Concern for Health Options, Information, Care and Education, and later stood on its own). Initially, the main focus of CHOICE was to provide options counseling for pregnant women. This counseling included helping women access out-of-state abortion services prior to the Supreme Court decision on Roe vs. Wade, issued in 1973. Over the years, CHOICE has expanded its services to provide information and referrals related not only to pregnancy options, but also to a wide variety of reproductive health issues (such as sexually transmitted diseases, prenatal care, and childbirth), AIDS, and childcare.
Series II, boxes 5 and 6 have LGBTQ-related materials.
The Eromin Center, an acronym for erotic minorities, originated in July, 1973 as an outgrowth of the Gay Switchboard, a telephone counseling service, in response to a perceived need to offer mental health services to sexual minorities. The Eromin Center existed to serve the mental health needs of this population. In addition to clinical services the Center operated an extensive community education program.
The Fellowship Commission is the nation's oldest and largest private metropolitan human rights organization, serving the Philadelphia area since 1941. It initially grew out of a number of separate attempts to fight and prevent the further spread of antisemitism in Philadelphia prior to American entry into World War II, and the increasing conviction that Black people and other minorities were being denied their rightful place in American society as result of prejudice, discrimination, and systematic injustice.
LGBTQ-related materials can be found in series V, box 33, subject files (box 63), and news clippings (box 71).
Founded in 1970 by Maggie Kuhn and five other women who had been pressed into mandatory retirement, the Gray Panthers began as the Consultation of Older and Younger Adults. Interests of the group, in addition to eliminating mandatory retirement, included the war in Vietnam, the arms race of the 1970s and 1980s, affordable housing, nursing home abuses, banking reform, civil rights, transportation, health care and patients’ rights, and creating structure for grassroots populations to facilitate social change at the community level. LGBTQ-related materials can be found in subseries 1.3, Reference Files, 1985-1990.
The Liberation News Service (LNS) was created in 1967 with the purpose of providing an alternative source of news. The LNS collected information from underground and small presses in the form of articles, photographs, and publications, and created news packets that were then sent out to subscribers. Many subscribers were locally run, small alternative newspapers, and they relied on LNS as a major source for radically oriented news copy and graphics.
This collection has 6 folders of gay-related content in subseries 1.18, Sexism, undated.
Franklin H. Littell (1917-2009), professor and department head of Temple University’s Department of Religion, was a Methodist minister, pacifist, activist, proponent of religious liberty, historian, and supporter of the State of Israel. He advocated against political extremism, was active in the rehabilitation of Germany after World War II, and dedicated himself to the study of the Holocaust.
Materials on LGBTQ topics can be found in his Reference Files (subseries 15.1 and 15.2 and subseries 5.8), and Research, Writing, and Speaking Materials (subseries 12.5 and 12.6)
Helen Oakes was a nationally recognized activist for public education from the 1960s to 1980s. She wrote, published and distributed the “Oakes Newsletter,” from 1970 to 1989, which addressed issues affecting the Philadelphia School District.
Series 2 of this collection houses records related to the Board of Education in Philadelphia from 1965 to 1991. Of note, is a range of material on national and local education issues including one folder on gay and lesbian awareness and curriculum development.
Subseries 4.3, Subject Files, 1958-2002, contains a variety of materials relating to the School District of Philadelphia. Of interest are two folders relating to the Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Gay and Lesbian Compliance Policy, which had a goal of providing “an affirmative, positive and safe learning environment for our lesbian, gay and non-gay youth.” The report and testimony from this task force offers some useful documentation of 1980s attitudes on homosexuality and education.
The Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force was created in 1978 to promote institutional reform in law, government, education and mass media principally within Pennsylvania. Through the processes of research, public policy advocacy, and community organizing strategies the Task Force sought to create links with other minority populations towards wide ranging public interest projects to reach common goals.
Formed in 19789 in response to “an international call for action on reproductive freedom.” During its lifetime the group actively demonstrated and testified against restrictions on access to abortion. The organization was concerned with maternity care, lesbian rights, and racism in the women's movement along with many other issues of special interest to women and those concerned with reproductive rights.
The Papers of this Philadelphia gay activist includes a wide range of materials such as articles, clippings, correspondence, magazines, newsletters, questionnaires and reports.
The SCRC holds a collection periodicals created and published by various LGBTQ organizations and individuals from around the United States. Most date form the early 1970s and some continue to the present.These materials are from our Contemporary Culture Collections. Click on the links to view the catalog record and request to view them in the SCRC Reading Room.
The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) is the principal repository for and steward of the Libraries’ rare books, manuscripts, archives and University records.
Location and Hours
Our reading room is located on the ground floor of Paley Library.
Please note that SCRC Reading Room hours for Spring Semester 2019 (January 2 – May 8, 2019) will be limited to 12:30 pm-5:30 pm, Monday through Friday, as we prepare for our move into the new Charles Library.
If you are planning on using SCRC materials any time during 2019, please be sure to visit this page and contact us for updated information.
Due to the unique, rare, valuable and often fragile nature of the items in our collection, and because they are stored in several locations in the library as well as the offsite library depository, the use of many of these materials requires scheduling an appointment ahead of time which can be done online using your SCRC Researcher Account. See our FAQ to learn more about the SCRC Researcher Account.
Send inquiries to our general e-mail, or call us at (215) 204-8257.
You may also write us at: SCRC, Paley Library (017-00), 1210 Polett Walk, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122.
Please include your name and complete contact information, as well as your specific question.