Diana Davies photographs

Collection History

Gays and lesbians in the United States began to mobilize politically in the 1950s with the founding of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis in California. This activist impulse spread nationwide, but did not reach critical mass until the late 1960s due to the influence of the African American civil rights, feminist, and anti-war student movements. In the wake of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed in New York City by an alliance of both veteran and youth activists. GAA, along with the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and Lesbian Feminist activists, made major transformations in the politics of sexuality and gender in the United States.

Among the many activist groups that worked to archive this history was the International Gay Information Center (IGIC), which grew out of the History Committee of GAA. The IGIC archives operated as a community-based repository until 1988, when the organization's directors gave the collection to The New York Public Library. The IGIC archives, along with other archives and collections subsequently donated to the Library, such as the Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Gay History Papers and Photographs, comprehensively document the gay and lesbian civil rights struggles in New York since the 1950s and have made NYPL one of the most important archives of LGBT history in the United States.

During the 1980s-90s, activists in New York City drew upon the tactics of these earlier LGBT organizations to face the challenge of the AIDS crisis. They renewed these strategies in order to fight social stigma, demand treatment and support for people with HIV/AIDS, and create positive strategies to prevent the spread of the disease. Gay Men's Health Crisis and ACT UP were among the most pivotal of these pioneering organizations. Building upon these growing strengths in LGBT history, the Library expanded its focus to document the history of HIV/AIDS activism in New York City, collecting the archives of major organizations, activists, and artists connected with this social movement.

Related Resources

1969: The Year of Gay Liberation <http://legacy.www.nypl.org/research/chss/1969/>

Carter, David. Stonewall: the Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.

Clendinen, Dudley. Out for Good: the Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Crimp, Douglas. AIDS Demo Graphics. Seattle: Bay Press, 1990.

Duberman, Martin B. Stonewall. New York: Dutton, 1993.

Eisenbach, David. Gay Power: An American Revolution. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006.

Gould, Deborah. Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP's Fight against AIDS. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2009.

Shilts, Randy. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS epidemic. New York: St Martin's Griffin, 2007.

This collection is also available in Archives & Manuscripts
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Collection Data

The collection consists of black and white photographic prints, color slides and negatives taken by Diana Davies during the late 1960's through the 1970's. The subjects include representatives of several New York gay and lesbian organizations including the Gay Liberation Front and Lavender Menace, and demonstrations, marches and meetings. Individuals photographed include Rita Mae Brown (activist and writer), Jill Johnston (writer and critic), Bob Kohler (co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front), and Kady Van Deurs (activist and writer). The collection also includes a small amount printed material.
Davies, Diana, 1938- (Photographer)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1969 - 1978
Library locations
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Shelf locator: MssCol 732
Gay activists
Gay rights
Lesbian activists
Demonstrations -- New York (N.Y.)
Demonstrations -- New York (State) -- New York
Brown, Rita Mae
Johnston, Jill
Kady, 1927-2003
Kohler, Bob, 1926-2007
Gay Liberation Front (New York, N.Y.)
Lavender Menace
Biographical/historical: Diana Davies, a photographer, began her career as a musician in the early 1960's. Her interest in pursuing photography as a profession began when she took pictures of fellow musicians. Since that time she has photographed a wide variety of subjects from individuals engaged in daily activities to demonstrations for gay and lesbian rights. Davies' photographs have been published in many newspapers, journals, books and magazines, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Life, and Sing Out!
Acquisition: Collection: Gift, Davies, Diana and Kady Van Deurs, 10/28/1995
Physical Description
Extent: 3.3 linear ft. (6 boxes)
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b14442517
MSS Unit ID: 732
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): f7ffc990-c5ae-012f-eb75-58d385a7bc34
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