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Herstories:  Audio/Visual Collections of the LHA

Daughters of Bilitis Video Project

This collection is composed of videos digitized from the Daughters of Bilitis Video Project collection at the Lesbian Herstory Archives. The Daughters of Bilitis was a social and activist group founded in 1955. The Video Project began in 1987 and was sponsored by the Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation Inc. The project was originally based on a suggestion by Morgan Gwenwald, who wrote several grants to help fund the project and contributed all of the still photographs included in the collection. An additional two founding members of the DOB contributed to the project: Sara Yager, who videotaped all the interviews, and Manuela Soares, who researched and conducted all of the interviews.

The purpose of the project was to gather interviews with the founders and former members of the Daughters of Bilitis in order to document their critical role in the gay/lesbian liberation movement, as well as the Civil Rights movement. The interviews gathered here focus on the formation and impact of the many DOB chapters that were formed around the country.  Interviewees discuss their childhoods, sexual awakenings, personal relationships, first encounters with Daughters of Bilitis and their perspectives on the purpose and impact of the organization. Gwenwald, Soares and Yager traveled around the country to interview and document the many DOB chapters and their members.

Some of the issues discussed are: whether Daughters of Bilitis was primarily a social or activist group, DOB’s treatment of assimilation, and the "theft" of The Ladder – the DOB’s publication. For more information on The Ladder, see: The Journal of Homosexuality“The Purloined Ladder,” Volume 34, Numbers 3/4, 1998. 

For more on the DOB, see: Gallo, M. (2007). Different daughters: A history of the Daughters of Bilitis and the rise of the lesbian civil rights movement. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Students at the Pratt Institute’s Library and Information Science Program have digitized the videos gathered here from VHS tapes. This is a comprehensive collection of the interviews gathered for the Daughters of Bilitis Video Project. The original materials are held in off-site storage by the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

From: Morgan Gwenwald, Manuela Soares and Sara Yager.

Transcriptions of many of the videotaped interviews are available, thanks to Ruth Helmich, Kelly Anderson, Trista Sordillo, Manuela Soares, and others.