Special Collections ath the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

In the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Special Collections

LGBT Collection Overview and Description

Welcome to the Special Collections Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies (LGBT) page. In order to support LGBT Studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Department of Special Collections at Golda Meir Library collects, preserves, and makes accessible published primary source materials that document LGBT life and culture. Special Collections is a department within the Division of Archives and Special Collections. Special Collections works in conjunction with the UWM Archives to build collections documenting the local LGBT experience (for example, view the Archives' subject list on LGBT sources.) The Division's collections are a resource for teaching and research in LGBT cross-listed topics in literary and cultural studies (English and foreign languages, Art History, Communications, Fine Arts); the social sciences (Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology); and the behavioral and natural sciences (Biology, Psychology, Allied Health Professions, Nursing, Social Welfare).

Pre-Stonewall Era Materials

Our developing collection has two focuses. First, we collect materials that were created and published before Stonewall (June 27, 1969), in order to remedy under-documentation of materials by and about LGBT people before the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. Autobiographies that document first-hand experiences of pre-Stonewall life published more recently will help to flesh out this era, where there is a lack of information from people within homosexual and transsexual communities. Materials include works by sexologists, such as studies on “inversion” and “intermediate types” by the Western medical community; socialist materials on homosexuality from the Fromkin Collection; and lesbian pulp fiction, physique magazines, queer-themed novels and other popular yet coded materials for those “in the life.” In particular, we hold the important homophile publication called The Ladder, which was published by the lesbian-rights group Daughters of Bilitis beginning in the mid-1950s.

Local and Contemporary Materials

We also collect contemporary documentary evidence about sex, sexuality and gender, especially the local LGBT experience in and around the Milwaukee area. These materials include Gay People’s Union News, The Amazon, The Wisconsin Light, Q-Voice, and current community publications. Materials that document the post-Stonewall gay liberation and lesbian/feminist movements include gay poetry and coming-out stories; lesbian and lesbian/feminist periodicals, poetry and fiction; photographic images and comic books, documentary histories, and recent periodical and autobiographical publications documenting bisexual and trans experiences. This focus parallels similar collecting in the UWM Archives.

Queer Pulp Fiction

There is a particular emphasis on collecting LGBT fiction before the 1970s, and we have a growing collection of queer pulp fiction and romance novels. In the post-WWII era, pulp fiction that had central gay and lesbian characters were popular reading both within the community and in the mainstream, as documented in Jaye Zimet’s Strange Sisters: The Art of Lesbian Pulp Fiction, 1949-1969 and Susan Stryker’s Queer Pulp: Perverted Passions from the Golden Age of the Paperback. Some queer pulp was written by and for mainstream readers, featuring depressing stories of "degenerate" isolation which ended in tragedy or heterosexuality; others were penned by gay and lesbian authors who wrote for the community using pseudonyms. LGBT Authors include Ann Bannon, Marijane Meaker, and Patricia Highsmith. Pulp artifacts are known for their dramatic, salacious covers and the sexualized, subversive homosexual images presented in such titles as Whisper Their Love (1975), First Person—3rd Sex (1959), and Sin Girls (1960).

Accessing Our Collections

Our collection is non-circulating, but may be viewed in our secured reading area, Monday through Friday, 10:00am to 5:00pm. For more information about Special Collections, materials accessibility and use, visit our departmental homepage. The LGBT Studies collection is developed through gift and purchase, and is still in the early stages of formulation. As an evolving collection that supports and provides materials for the growing field of LGBT Studies, we are actively soliciting donations.