Glad to be gay – the Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE Library

Glad to be gay – the Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE Library

LSE Library has been home to the Hall-Carpenter Archives since 1988. It’s an extensive collection of archives, ephemera and printed material documenting the development of gay activism in the UK since the 1950s. But how did it come to LSE and what does it hold? Curator Gillian Murphy introduces the collection. Visit the free exhibition Glad to be Gay.

Demonstration, with Gay Liberation Front Banner, c1972

Demonstration, with Gay Liberation Front Banner, c1972


The origins

The Hall-Carpenter Archives grew out of the campaigning work of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). In 1980 CHE established the Gay Monitoring and Archive Project to monitor cases of discrimination against homosexuals in all parts of life. A media monitoring service was set up including a subscription to the press cuttings service. In addition, CHE members began to send press cuttings and related material on discrimination. The CHE also found itself storing records of gay organisations.

In 1982 the Gay Monitoring and Archive Project separated from CHE and the press cuttings and archives transferred to the flat of one of its founders, Julian Meldrum, and a limited company was set up called the Hall-Carpenter Memorial Archives.

When Greater London Council withdrew its funding in 1986, alternative ways had to be found to secure the archive’s future. It was decided to split the collection into three. The archives, ephemera and printed material went to LSE. The Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive first found a home at Middlesex University and then went to the Bishopsgate Institute. The oral histories went to the British Library Sound Archive.

The name

GLF Plaque on LSE Campus

GLF Plaque on LSE Campus

The collection is named in honour of the novelist Marguerite Radclyffe Hall and the socialist writer Edward Carpenter. Unfortunately, the collection does not hold any papers of these individuals.


Decriminalisation of male homosexuality

The papers of the Albany Trust, the Homosexual Law Reform Society, Tony Dyson and Antony Grey record the campaign to decriminalise male homosexuality throughout the 1960s following the Wolfenden Report in 1957. There is correspondence with the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, and with Lord Arran and Leo Abse who pushed various versions of the Sexual Offences bills through both Houses of Parliament until the Act was passed in July 1967.

The Gay Liberation Front

Gay Liberation Front Street Theatre

Gay Liberation Front Street Theatre

The Gay Liberation Front began in October 1970 at LSE. It brought a new energy to gay activism. This revolutionary movement took a direct approach, drawing up demands, holding ‘think-ins’, forming consciousness-raising groups, organising demonstrations and street theatre. It had a short life, torn apart by the diverse interests of those involved. In its wake, numerous gay and lesbian groups emerged (eg Joint Council for Gay Teenagers, Gay Activists Alliance, FRIEND [Fellowship for the Relief of the Isolated and Emotionally in Need and Distress]).

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement encouraged friendship and support amongst gay Christians and maintained links with the church and the gay community. It also actively lobbied the government regarding equality legislation eg on age of consent, section 28.


There are lots of papers relating to AIDS / HIV including Simon Watney, Peter Tatchell and Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.


LGBT journals (newspapers and magazines), 1954-, collected from the UK and the rest of the world, particularly the USA. They include:

  • Attitude
  • Capital Gay
  • Diva
  • G Scene
  • Gay News
  • Gay Times
  • Pink Paper
  • Scotsgay
Disabled Gays Guide, 1985

Disabled Gays Guide, 1985

How to access

Most of the material highlighted here is part of our special collections, which are open to all but must be consulted in our reading room. Find out how to book your place and order material on our access archives and special collections page.

To search, use the LSE archive catalogue typing HCA* into ‘Refno’ field.

Further resources at LSE

The online LSE student newspaper the Beaver shows early coverage of gay liberation activities. For example, details of their first meeting.

Trace journal articles on this topic using LGBT Life with full text. This has a specialist focus and is a good supplement to broader social science and humanities databases such as SocIndex and ISI web of Science.

View some images from these archives on Flickr.

Read Sue Donnelly’s article ‘Coming out in the archives’, Oxford Journals, 2008-2009, for more information about the Hall-Carpenter Archives.

Contributed by Gillian Murphy (Curator of Equality, Rights and Citizenship, LSE) This article was originally posted on the LSE Library blog

Read more

Sociology and the Gay Liberation Front – Bob Mellors at LSE

Please read our comments policy before commenting


  1. Rev Dr Malcolm Johnson August 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    I have two files of notes about Services of Blessing for same sex couples I have taken since 1969. May I lodge them with you?

    • Hayley Reed August 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your message, Malcolm. Our Archives and Special Collections Team will get in touch by email to follow this up with you. Hayley Reed, blog editor

  2. Gregg Blachford February 11, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Hi Hayley/Blog Editor – I came across this blog recently and find it a wonderful resource. I just wondered if you knew about the Gay Left site that was created about 10 years ago that has digital copies of the 10 issues of the Gay Left journal that was produced in London in the 1970’s. I was on that Collective in the early years and helped set up this website. You may have it, but I just can’t see it. Thank you.

    Best wishes, Gregg Blachford

    • Hayley Reed February 14, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gregg! I will pass this on to our Library team. Hayley

  3. Jonathan Blake February 21, 2019 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    I would like to give to the Hall Carpenter Archive a copy of a Limited Edition ” Seventy Haiku from Nigel for Nigel” A book I commissioned for Nigel Young’s 70th Birthday in June 2016 Nigel was a Student. @LSE 1967-1970 He was a member of The Gay Left Collective & LGSM I met Nigel on 1st April 1983 ‘All Fool’s Day’ outside Gay’s The Word about to board a Coach organised by “Gays For A Nuclear Free Future” to Join a Stand Together around Greenham Common, Aldermarston & Burghfield we have been Companions since that time up to the present day.
    Would you accept such a book?
    Thank you
    Jonathan Blake

    • Hayley Reed February 25, 2019 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      Hello and thank you for getting in touch. Our curator Gillian Murphy will contact you directly.

  4. Nicola Horton May 25, 2019 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Hi – I have a bunch of LGBT magazines from the late 80s early 90s – some of which I can see are in the archive but not all the same issues as I have. Would you like them?

    • Hayley Reed May 28, 2019 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Hi Nicola and thank you very much for your message. Our curator will be happy to discuss this with you, please do email Hayley Reed, blog editor

  5. Eve Goldberg July 2, 2019 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    I thought your readership might be interested in a new video about LGBTQ history. In consultation with members of the Lesbian Archives of Sonoma County, award-winning documentary filmmaker Eve Goldberg has produced a short video about a seminal event in the LGBTQ history of Sonoma County, California — the 1972 protest of a theater production of “The Killing of Sister George.”

    Combining newly shot interviews with archival footage, this video is an example of how our history can be transformed into a contemporary teaching tool, how local LGBTQ history can come alive, and how we can create new opportunities for our elders to speak to people today.

    A link to this 11 minute video is available here:

    “Protesting Sister George”

    Please feel free to share the video with your listservs, members, or other interested people.

    Hope you enjoy the video!

    Eve Goldberg,

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