The Hall-Carpenter Archives
The Hall-Carpenter Archives is a large LGBT collection that came to LSE Library in the late 1980s. It was named in honour of pioneers Radclyffe Hall and Edward Carpenter but there is very little relating to them in the archive.
Radclyffe Hall (left) and Edward Carpenter (right)
Read about the history of the Hall-Carpenter Archives.
Some examples of lesbian history are:
Vera ‘Jack’ Holme, cross-dressing actress, chauffeur, suffragette. Her lesbian relationships can be pieced together from photographs, a poem and an inventory.
Find out more about Vera ‘Jack’ Holme.
- The Minorities Research Group, founded in 1963, was the first lesbian group in the UK. Papers relating to this group and a run of its newsletter ‘Arena Three’ can be found in Mary McIntosh's archive.
Find out more: Mary McIntosh’s archive – research and activism.
- Lesbians in Libraries worked with women’s publishing houses such as Sheba Press , OnlyWomen Press and Black Women Talk to ensure that lesbian literature was made available in public libraries in the 1980s.
Pat Arrowsmith – Pat was a pacifist, poet, artist and the first lesbian to come out in Who’s Who in 1976 and contributed to a book about lesbians We’re Here in the following year.
Find out more: Pat Arrowsmith’s archive at LSE – “I feel guilty for not trying to escape from all of my prison sentences”.
- We hold many lesbian magazines such as Shebang, Artemis and Sequel and information newsletters from the Lesbian Information Centre.
In 1957, the Wolfenden Report proposed that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should not be a criminal offence. A small lobbying movement formed to campaign for these changes in law. This ended with the Sexual Offences Act in 1967. Now same-sex acts in England and Wales were legal provided they were consensual, in private, and between two men who were 21 or over.
Key figures and organisations in this campaign were:
- Tony Dyson co-founded the Homosexual Law Reform Society in 1958.
- Antony Grey became the Chair of the Homosexual Law Reform Society in 1963 and spearheaded the organisation through a crucial period of reform.
Tony Dyson (left) and Antony Grey (right)
- Albany Trust was another campaigning organisation which had an important educational and counselling role.
The Sexual Offences Act was a small step on the road to equality. A new catalyst for change came in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots in New York and the start of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Bob Mellors, a student at LSE, was in the States during the summer of 1970 and became involved in the New York GLF. He met Aubrey Walter there, and when they were both back in the UK, they organised the first GLF meeting at LSE in October 1970.
Exhibit: the Gay Liberation Front in Britain.
Blog: Sociology and the Gay Liberation Front – Bob Mellors at LSE.
Blog: Mary McIntosh’s archive – research and activism.
- The Campaign for Homosexual Equality led the fight for full legal equality. It also founded local groups around the country offering social activities and support for lesbians and gay men. Each group produced its own newsletter.
Margaret Thatcher’s government is often seen as a time when the establishment fought against gay rights.
In 1988 Margaret Thatcher’s government introduced Section 28 to the Local Government Act 1988. This effectively prevented teachers talking about same-sex relationships or from challenging homophobia in schools. LGBT people came together to fight against Section 28 through campaigns like Stop the Clause Campaign and organisations like Stonewall. Angela Mason, student at LSE and member of GLF, led Stonewall during those early years of its campaign.
Section 28 remained in force until 2000 in Scotland and until 2003 in the rest of the UK.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, founded in 1976, was also an important lobbying organisation, for example campaigning to repeal Section 28, and a founding member of AIDS Faith Alliance. It also encouraged friendship and support among LGBT Christians as well as helping the Church re-examine its understanding of human sexuality. It is still active today.
- OutRage! was a radical, non-violent, direct action group that was founded in 1990 to fight against homophobia in the State, the Church and society in general. It campaigned to bring about changes in the law eg, age of consent.
Find out about some of the OutRage! campaigns.
- Ian Buist’s papers contain important lobbying papers regarding same-sex civil partnerships. We also hold the Civil Partnership Collection in The Women’s Library which includes one couple’s civil partnership conversion to marriage after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
Transvestite / Transsexual / Transgender
- Urania – journal founded by Eva Gore-Booth, Esther Roper, Thomas Baty (who also went as Irene Clyde), Jessey Wade and Dorothy Cornish in 1916 running until 1940. It challenged gender and sexuality, conveying a radical but simple message for the time, that ‘sex is an accident’. The journal contains reports of successful gender reassignment cases.
Find out more about Urania in this talk by Jenny White in February 2021.
- Beaumont Bulletin - journal of the Beaumont Society which was set up in 1966 to provide information and education to the general public, medical and legal professionals on ‘transvestism’. Today it is the UK’s largest running support group for transgender people and their families.
- Charlotte Bach – the papers of Bob Mellors contain his research on Charlotte Bach, a trans-woman.
- Press for Change (an organisation founded in 1992 to provide legal advice and support to transgender people, the government, the public and private bodies).
- Papers of Stephen Whittle, trans activist
- Papers of Mark Rees, trans activist
- The Hall-Carpenter Archives holds newsletters and ephemera relating to various groups such as the Transvestite / Transsexual Social Group.
- Listen to Prof. Stephen Whittle’s talk at LSE about Press for Change.
Find out more
How to search
This is just a selection of what we hold on LGBT history in LSE Library. Try using names, organisations, events, places to find material and also search terms such as bisex*, transvest*, lesbian*, GLF, “Gay Liberation Front” in the ‘anytext’ field of the archive catalogue.
Search for LGBT journal titles in the Hall-Carpenter Archives using the archive catalogue (use double speech marks around two or more words). Also search LSE Library’s main library catalogue for LGBT journal titles.
How to access
Most of the material highlighted here is stored in closed access and must be consulted in The Women’s Library Reading Room. Find out how to book your place and order material on our access archives and special collections page.
If you need specific help with any of the collections mentioned here get in touch with our Curator for Equality, Rights and Citizenship, Gillian Murphy.