Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin and the Daughters of Bilitis

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin founded the first U.S. lesbian rights organization, the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), in San Francisco in 1955 as a secret sorority. They did so at a time when “gay rights” was a contradiction in terms: gay men and women risked personal safety and their jobs if they dared to live openly. “We were fighting the church, the couch, and the courts,” Martin remembered years later. This collection documents the joint and individual work lives of life-partners Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, from the homophile movement of the 1950s to the 1980s. This collection is strongest in materials connected to Lyon and Martin’s involvement with the Daughters of Bilitis, and for material from the 1960s and 1970s, particularly related to homophile and gay liberation organizations, lesbian mothers and violence against women. The archive includes correspondence, manuscripts and manuscript drafts, organizational papers including minutes, constitutions, flyers and financial documents.