Columbia University Archives

Columbia LGBT records, 1961-1990, bulk 1967-1989

Summary Information


The collection consists of newspaper clippings, publications, correspondence, memos, meeting minutes, and promotional material related to the activities and interests of Columbia's LGBT student groups. It also contains some syllabi, reading material on homosexuality, financial statements, surveys, and a few photographs.

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0238
Bib ID 6228537 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Columbia University. Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Alliance
Title Columbia LGBT records, 1961-1990, bulk 1967-1989
Physical Description 8.83 linear feet (8 record cartons 2 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in 8 series.



This collection extensively documents the activities of Columbia's nationally and internationally recognized LGBT student groups from the establishment of the Student Homophile League in 1967 through 1990. The collection offers insight into gay life at Columbia University and includes extensive correspondence containing frequent requests for information about making social contacts in the gay community and from researchers of all ages looking for assistance with their projects on topics related to homosexuality. Through collected subject files, the collection also documents gay life on other university campuses in the 1970s. Lastly, the contents of this collection also bear witness to the rise of queer studies in university curricula via syllabi and readings from the "gay study group" in the 1980s.

  • Series I: Governing Documents, 1972-1989

    This series contains ratified constitutions and procedural rules for Gay People at Columbia (GPC), Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA), and Lesbian and Gays of Barnard and Columbia (LGBC). Organized chronologically, the series also contains annotated copies and drafts reflecting changes to the group's stated mission and by-laws across two decades.

  • Series II: Student Homophile League, 1966-1973

    This series contains governing documents, membership lists, event flyers, meeting minutes, internal memos and correspondence for the Student Homophile League (SHL), the first collegiate gay student organization in the country, founded in 1967 by Stephen Donaldson (a.k.a. Robert A. Martin). Correspondence includes communications with gay-identified individuals requesting information about connecting to other homosexuals either in their hometowns or in New York City as well as young men interested in information about draft deferment. Also of interest is a letter of support from the critic Eric Bentley, Brander Matthews Professor of Dramatic Literature at Columbia University. At the end of the series is a 1982 letter from Robert A. Martin offering his account of the founding of the Student Homophile League as well as SHL's participation in the 1968 strike at Columbia University. In addition to office records, this series also includes documents relating to the homophile movement outside of Columbia University. These materials include pamphlets, clippings and resolutions addressing the national homophile movement as well as memos, informational fliers and addresses from other chapters of the Student Homophile League established after Columbia's chapter, which operated as the center of the organization.

  • Series III: Office Records, 1972-1989

    This series includes official and draft meeting minutes, proceedings reports, financial statements, internal memos and attendance sheets for Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA). Memos include detailed and personal letters of recommendation of board members. Two separate folders consist of governing documents, meeting minutes and memos from the Student Governing Board (SGB) concerning internal operations and its relation to the Earl Hall Center, which sponsored and housed Gay People at Columbia (GPC). With SHL founder Robert Martin as SGB chairperson in the mid-1970s, GPC joined other student groups in 1977 in temporarily withdrawing their membership from SGB because of conflicts over director J. Paul Martin's management of SGB.

  • Series IV: Activities, 1967-1989

    Arranged in four subseries, this series documents the various activities pursed by the Student Homophile League (SHL), Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB) and Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA).

  • Series V: Correspondence, 1970-1983

    This series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence collected by Gay People at Columbia (GPC). It is organized chronologically. Most of the correspondence consists of research inquiries from individuals, such as grade school students, undergraduates, graduate students, and professional researchers looking for assistance on a project about homosexuality, or personal inquiries from implicitly or explicitly gay-identified individuals looking for more information about homosexuality and opportunities for making connections with other homosexuals in their area or in New York City. Other individual inquiries concern requests for information about draft deferment. The national profile of Columbia's gay student organization, established by SHL's status as the first of its kind in the United States, helps to explain why GPC was treated as a default resource for those wishing to learn more about homosexuality or to meet other homosexuals. Of particular note is a copy of a letter sent by GPC to the poet W.H. Auden, responding to his request to learn more about GPC's activities and inviting him to a wine and cheese party in his honor at the gay lounge (the collection contains no evidence that such an event actually took place). Also included in the series are manuscript submissions to GPC's newsletter Pride of Lions and many completed questionnaires from students submitted for Pride of Lions' "The Closet" issue from 1973.

  • Series VI: Publications, 1962-1990

    Organized into three subseries this series contains Columbia and non-Columbia publications and newspaper clippings collected by Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPCB), Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA) and Columbia Lesbian Bi-Sexual Gay Coalition (LGBC).

  • Series VII: Subject Files, 1961-1989

    Organized into two subseries, this series contains collected fliers, correspondence and informational materials on topics of interest to the gay community.

  • Series VIII. Office of Multicultural Affairs Materials, 1970s-2010s

    This series contains clippings, fliers, correspondence, memos, posters and conference materials related to LGBT campus groups, activities, events and associated topics collected and maintained by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and its predecessor offices. There is some overlap in content between what is found in this series and other series in this collection.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Columbia LGBT Records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Central Files, 1890-1984 (UA#0001)

Historical Subject Files, 1870s-2017 (UA#0002)

Office of the Provost Records, 1939-2006 (UA#0083)


No additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Victoria Wiet, GSAS 2018, and Kelly Powers, CC 2018 in Summer and Fall 2017. Finding aid written by Kelly Powers and Jocelyn Wilk in October 2017.

Revision Description

2017-11-03 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Articles Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fliers (printed matter) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memorandums Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Surveys Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Syllabi Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
minutes (administrative records) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
publications (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Donaldson, Stephen, 1946-1996 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay college students Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay community Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lesbian college students Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manford, Morty, 1950-1992 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Martin, Robert A., 1946-1996 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sexual minorities Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Led by Stephen Donaldson, an openly bisexual student, Columbia students banded together to start the Columbia Student Homophile League (SHL, 1967-1970) in 1967. Columbia University was the first university in the country to officially recognize a gay student group. The name of this group has evolved over the years in response to changing views and needs of the LGBT community on campus. In 1970 the group was renamed Gay People at Columbia (GPC, 1970-1985) and was also referred to as Gay People at Columbia-Barnard (GPC-B) between1972-1976. In 1984-85, around the time of co-education at Columbia College, the group merged with Lesbians at Barnard to form Columbia Gay and Lesbian Alliance (CGLA, 1985-1989). In November 1989 CGLA renamed itself Columbia Lesbian Bi-Sexual Gay Coalition (LBGC, 1989-1998) in order to be more inclusive of those who identify as bisexual. In the late 1990s the group adopted the name "Columbia Queer Alliance" (1998-present) as "queer" is considered more inclusive of the whole community.