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Dr Gillian Murphy

February 1st, 2017

The Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE

12 comments | 24 shares

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Dr Gillian Murphy

February 1st, 2017

The Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE

12 comments | 24 shares

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

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 Dr Gillian Murphy introduces the collection.

“Our memories matter. Past records matter.”

In many ways, the 1970s was a transformational time to be LGBT. The Sexual Offences Act (1967) had not long passed (decriminalising homosexual acts in private between men over 21) and LGBT interest groups were flourishing. One of these, inspired by the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York and first formed in a classroom at LSE, was the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). The GLF encouraged LGBT people to come out of the closet, organising the UK’s very first Pride march in London 1972.

Demonstration, with Gay Liberation Front Banner, c1972. IMAGELIBRARY/1370. LSE
Demonstration, with Gay Liberation Front Banner, c1972. IMAGELIBRARY/1370. LSE

Many other LGBT groups emerged around this time, such as the London Gay Teenage Group, Gay Activists Alliance and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, to name a few. Other groups, which had formed in the 1960s, such as the North-Western Homosexual Law Committee, renamed itself as the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE).

Colourful protest badges on a table all mixed up together and photographed from above. They include statements on like 'Lesbians are Magic' and 'Wages for Housework'
A collection of badges from the Women’s Library and Hall-Carpenter Archives, including from LGBT groups formed during this time

The idea of preserving LGBT history and providing a resource for researchers began in 1976 with the British Sociological Association’s Gay Research Group. First meetings were held at LSE, and you can see from their bulletin the progress they had made; issues they were discussing, and areas of research interest.

Two papers side-by side with detail about progress the group had been making, potential future direction and current research interests.
British Sociological Association Gay Research Group Bulletin, November 1976 No.1

Unfortunately, more LGBT openness brought increased homophobia and discrimination. CHE set up a Commission on Discrimination and monitored cases of discrimination against LGBT people in all parts of life. This Commission collected evidence of discrimination in the media, and later began the Gay Monitoring and Archive Project in 1981. The project was sponsored by the National Council of Civil Liberties, now known as Liberty. CHE members sent press cuttings and related material on discrimination to CHE and slowly an archive began to grow.

A report entitled "Attacks on Gay People" written by the CHE Commission on Discrimination. The cover is bright pink and includes and upside down triangle on it.
A report entitled “Attacks on Gay People” written by the Campaign for Homosexuality Equality (CHE) Commission on Discrimination

In order to achieve its goals, the Gay Monitoring and Archive Project needed to become a charity with a name. Suggestions ranged from the Monitoring and Archive Project, Sex Discrimination Archives to the Hall-Carpenter Archives. The latter was chosen.

The Hall-Carpenter Archives became a charity in 1982, named in honour of authors Radclyffe Hall and Edward Carpenter. It received a major grant from the Greater London Council (GLC) and came to be based at the London Lesbian and Gay Centre in Farringdon.

A drawing of Radclyffe Hall and Edward Carpenter with speech bubbles. One is saying "Hall-Carpenter Archives..." and the other is responding "...retrieving our history".
A drawing of Radclyffe Hall and Edward Carpenter

With the end of the GLC in 1986, major funding for the archive dried up. The Hall-Carpenter Archives now had to begin an appeal to find a new home and resources to survive. It was decided to split the collection into three: archives and magazines, press cuttings, and oral histories. In 1988, the archives, ephemera and runs of gay journals and magazines were transferred to LSE Library, and the oral history material was added to the British Library Sound Archive. The collection of now over 300,000 press cuttings became known as the Lesbian and Gay News media Archive (LAGNA) and found its home at the Bishopsgate Institute as part of their LGBTQ+ collection.

Logo with an upside down pink triangle and "Hall-Carpenter Archives" written around it.
The Hall-Carpenter Archives logo

The Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE has continued to grow and evolve over the years as interest in it and awareness of LGBT history has increased. We welcome all who wish to visit and use this unique and historically valuable resource.

Find out more

How to access the Hall-Carpenter Archives

Book a visit and order material on our access archives and special collections page.

To search, use the archives catalogue typing HCA* into “Refno” field or select ‘Hall-Carpenter Archives’ in the Discrete Collections drop down of Advanced Search.

More on LGBTQ history

Browse our collection of blog posts about LGBTQ history at LSE.

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Or are you interested in beginning a research project? Get started with LSE Library’s archive collections on LGBT history and LSE history.

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About the author

Gillian Murphy

Dr Gillian Murphy

Gillian Murphy is Curator for Equality, Rights and Citizenship at LSE Library.

Posted In: Hidden LSE | LGBTQ+ History | LSE Library


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