LGBTQ Lesbian Archive (1901-2004)


As the photograph of Katharine Hepburn above signifies, this is a collection of lesbian and bisexual women in film, theater and music. It spans a full century, starting with Maud Adams in 1901 and working its way up through a Chantal Akerman film of 2004.

This archive has three components:

PART ONE deals with 67 lesbian and bisexual women in film, theater and music. It contains actresses and singers, but also includes LBTQ women whose books were adapted to film. We have, in most cases, provided biographical information about these women’s lives. In a few cases, where the historical record is unclear, we have listed a few women as subjects for future historical research.

It is necessary to understand that, in most cases, lesbian and bisexual women faced huge societal taboos until late in the 20th century. Arranged, so-called “lavender marriages” with gay men provided a safe façade that allowed them to continue their careers without fear of a disclosure that could spell ruin for their life’s work. There were, however, some actresses who disdained social convention—such as Tallulah Bankhead, Patsy Kelly and Alla Nazimova—but most of the women archived here found it mandatory to keep their private lives completely masked from the prying eyes of the public.

Here is a partial list of those stars, singers and writers who, in addition to the lives they created on the silver screen were abliged to do the same at home.

  • Judith Anderson
  • Maud Adams (1982-1953) 
  • Judith Anderson (1898-1992)
  • Eve Arden (1908-1990)
  • Jean Arthur (1900-1991)
  • Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979)
  • Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968)
  • Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923)
  • Billie Burke (1884-1970)
  • Claudette Colbert (1903-1996)
  • Katharine Cornell (1893-1974)
  • Joan Crawford (Ca. 1904-1908–1977)
  • Dolores Del Río (1904-1983)
  • Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992)
  • Jodie Foster (B. 1962)
  • Greta Garbo (1905-1990)
  • Janet Gaynor (1906-1984)
  • Lesley Gore (1946-2015)
  • Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003)
  • Judy Holliday (1921-1965)
  • Janis Joplin (1943-1970)
  • Veronica Lake (1922-1973)
  • Harper Lee (1926-2016)
  • Mary Martin (1913-1990)
  • Hattie Mcdaniel (1893-1952)
  • Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990)

PART TWO is about representation of lesbian and bisexual women in film and theater. This consists of films and plays portraying LBTQ women but, as far as we know, written by and featuring non-LBTQ women and men.

PART THREE is a brief final section of photos of actresses in nonbinary clothing from the early part of the 20th century.

Except as noted, photos are approximately 10 x 8″, scripts and press kits are quarto, pressbooks are folio. Condition varies in a collection of this size but is overall very good or better.

This archive consists of:
1,560 photos
26 film and television scripts
14 pressbooks programs  
20 poster

9 flyers

This makes for a total of 1,629 pieces in the archive, which is being offered for

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