Hidden Histories: Discovering Los Angeles' LGBTQ+ Collections

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, & Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, & Botanical Gardens shares its world-renowned collections to support scholarship, foster learning, inspire creativity, and offer transformative experiences for diverse audiences.

LGBTQ+ topics and themes represented in the collections held by the Huntington include Gay men, Lesbians, and Arts.

Featured Collections

Aguilar (Laura) photograph collection, 1984-1992
Aguilar was an American photographer. Raised in the San Gabriel Valley, Aguilar studied photography at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, California. Her work, made primarily between the 1980s and 2008, explores ideas of friendship, family, queerness, fatness, disability, social stigma, the Latinx community, and the ways in which identities intersect.
Akins (Zoë) papers, 1878-1959
This collection consists of personal and professional papers of American writer Zoë Akins (1886-1958). Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for the play The Old Maid (1935), Akins also worked as a screenwriter, notably writing the script for the film Christopher Strong (1933), starring Katharine Hepburn and directed by Dorothy Arzner, the only female director working in the studio system at the time, and a lesbian. The collection contains correspondence with Willa Cather (a frequent subject of queer studies), Dorothy Arzner, George Cukor, and others.
Austin (Mary Hunter) collection, 1845-1950*
This collection consists of literary and personal papers from American novelist, essayist, and political activist Mary Hunter Austin. She was known for her portrayals of life in California and New Mexico, perhaps best known for her book The Land of Little Rain (1903). The collection includes several correspondences to other authors, editors, and friends, including Willa Cather. The collection also includes a short biography of Cather written by Austin.
Babitz (Eve) papers, 1917-2016
This collection consists of materials documenting the life and career of writer and artist Eve Babitz. Best known for her books Eve's Hollywood (1974) and Slow Days, Fast Company (1977), Babitz was a lifelong Angeleno whose work focused on the city and its culture. Babitz was well-connected to many notable people from the mid-20th-century, including her godfather Igor Stravinsky, writers like Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, artists Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz, and Ed and Paul Ruscha. The collection includes writings, personal and biographical items, photographs, and artworks. Babitz wrote candidly about her sexual experiences with both men and women and is said to have had a brief relationship with photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Bachardy (Don) collections, 1959-2003 

Don Bachardy (1934-) is an American artist who is known for portrait work that features celebrated public figures, literary and otherwise. The Huntington also holds a collection of Bachardy's male nude watercolor paintings featuring sitters who are named though not famous. Bachardy was the partner of British author Christopher Isherwood from 1953 until Isherwood's death in 1986. They resided in Santa Monica, where Bachardy continues to live. 

Balfour (John Patrick Douglas, 3rd Baron Kinross) papers, 1922-1976
John Patrick Douglas Balfour (1904-1976) was a gay Scottish writer. He began his writing career as a journalist on the editorial staffs of various newspapers and as the society gossip columnist, "Mr. Gossip." At the start of World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a squadron leader, working in intelligence. It was while traveling and serving during the war that he began a life-long interest in the Middle East and, especially, Turkey. After the war, he traveled widely and worked as a freelance journalist, writer, and broadcaster on radio, and later, television. Notably, this collection includes letters written to Balfour from gay men seeking advice and conversation during a time when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom.
Bowles (Paul) papers, 1933-2008
Paul Bowles (1910-1999) was an American composer and author. Bowles studied music with Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson, and began to write at the encouragement of Gertrude Stein. Although born in New York, Bowles spent much of his adult life in Morocco. He was married to the playwright Jane Auer Bowles (1917-1973), though both had same-sex relations with others. This small collection contains three manuscripts by Bowles (two short stories and one musical score) and a series of letters between him and his friend and fellow author Lonnie Burr.
Brown (Robert D.) collection of Christopher Isherwood materials, circa 1939-2014
A collection of ephemera primarily related to Christopher Isherwood. Included in the collection are flyers, invitations, and merchandise for Isherwood events at the Huntington Library. Also included are postcards, maps, letters, tickets, photographic negatives, books, audio cassettes, magazines, and clippings. This collection is currently unprocessed and unavailable. Please contact Reader Services, reference@huntington.org, with questions.
Butler (Octavia E.) papers, 1933-2006
The topics of sex and sexuality were of interest to Butler intellectually. Some of Butler's works, like "Fledgling" and the "Xenogenesis" series explore non-heteronormative family structures and relationships. There is also some research material in the collection that explores queer themes, namely, her research file "Sex and Sex Laws."
Cased photographs & related images collection, 1840-1900, 1992-2012*
A collection of primarily 19th-century photographs mounted in their original cases, and some related images. The majority are daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, 1840s-1860s, and are primarily portraits with some outdoor views including Gold Rush miners. Of particular note is the tintype "Two unidentified men in hats in front of painted mountain backdrop."
Cobbe (Frances Power) correspondence, 1995-1904
Frances Power Cobbe was an Irish writer, social reformer, anti-vivisection activist, and leading suffragette. She founded several animal advocacy groups, including the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) in 1875, and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) in 1898, and was a member of the executive council of the London National Society for Women's Suffrage. She was the author of several books and essays, including "The intuitive theory of morals" (1855), The Pursuits of Women (1863), "Criminals, idiots, women and minors" (1869), and Darwinism in morals, and other Essays (1871). She formed a marriage with British sculptor and painter Mary Lloyd, whom she referred to alternately as "husband," "wife," and "dear friend." She met Charles Darwin in 1868 and they remained acquaintances until she edited and published a letter he had written to her without Darwin's permission. Her "Darwinism in morals" was a critique of Darwin's Descent of man.
Edelman (Edmund D.) papers, 1953-1994
Edmund D. Edelman was born in Los Angeles in 1930. He served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1965 until 1974, when he was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. He served in that office until his retirement in 1994. This collection includes a sub-series titled "Gay Community (1975-1994)." This series includes memos and correspondence which document Edelman's support of the LGBTQ+ community through its organizations and programs, as well as the push for gay rights legislation. The activities of the Gay Community Services Center and its requests for funding are documented through correspondence and reports. HIV/AIDS material in this group highlights the LGBTQ+ community's specific response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Related sub-series are "Health Services and Staff Issue" which includes more material on HIV/AIDS as a county-wide public health issue, and the individual staff files of Jonathan Freedman and Jim Petzke, which provide additional insight into Edelman's work with the LGBTQ+ community.
Fuller (Henry Blake) letters to Louise Lawrence Venus Washburn, 1873-before 1929
Henry Blake Fuller was an American poet, essayist, and novelist. Fuller was born in January 1857 in Chicago, Illinois. His works include The Chevalier of Pensieri-Vani (1890), The cliff-dwellers (1893), and With the procession (1895). He passed away in July 1929. In 2000, he was posthumously inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for his important contributions to gay literature. He is regarded as being one of the earliest authors to write about homosexuality in fiction. The collection consists primarily of letters from Henry Blake Fuller to his childhood friend in Chicago, Louise Lawrence Venus Washburn. Includes three photographs of Fuller and one of Washburn, a musical score to a song written by Fuller, eight fragments (one of which is a letter written in code), and printed material (mostly reviews of Fuller's work and that of other literary authors).
Hahn (Kenneth) papers, 1945-1993*
Kenneth Hahn was a Los Angeles County Supervisor from 1952-1992, serving longer than any other person in the history of LA County. He was a supporter of civil rights. His papers include materials related to Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services and the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center.
Haines (William) collection, circa 1930-2012
William Haines was an American actor and interior designer. He led an openly gay life in Hollywood. The collection contains drawings, renderings, and photographs of iconic designs in the Hollywood Regency style. Haines had clients that included Hollywood legends, successful businesspeople, and politicians. This collection is currently unprocessed and unavailable. Please contact Reader Services, reference@huntington.org, with questions.
Hansen (Joseph) papers, 1880s-2004
This collection contains the papers of Los Angeles writer and gay activist Joseph Hansen (1923-2004), known primarily for creating the Dave Brandstetter detective series, which was unique in featuring an openly gay detective as the title character. The papers include drafts of published and unpublished work, correspondence, professional papers primarily related to publishing, and personal and family papers.
Healy (Eloise Klein) papers, 1951-2020
Eloise Klein Healy is a lesbian American poet. In 2012, she was appointed as the first Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Healy's writing topics include family history, natural history, animals, Los Angeles, lesbian desire, and sports. This collection is currently unprocessed and unavailable. Please contact Reader Services, reference@huntington.org, with questions.
Isherwood (Christopher) papers, 1864-2004
Papers from openly gay British-American writer Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986), dating primarily from the 1920s to the 1980s. Isherwood is best known for works such as Goodbye to Berlin (1939), A single man (1964), and Christopher and his kind (1976). The collection includes scripts, literary manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, photographs, ephemera, audiovisual material, as well as Isherwood's library. The archive is an exceptionally rich resource for research on Isherwood, as well as W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and other friends and colleagues.
Johnston (Frances Benjamin) photograph collection, 1889-1908
This collection from American photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston focuses mainly on her portraits of 1890s Washington, D.C. socialites, diplomats, presidents, senators, reformers, Supreme Court justices, artists, authors, Confederacy officers, etc. It is now widely acknowledged that Johnston was queer.
Los Angeles area court records, 1850-1911*
A collection of criminal cases, which contain records of sexual offenses ("Crime against Nature").
Los Angeles Times records, 1869-2002
This collection contains documents and objects related to the business life of the Los Angeles Times and its owners, both corporate and personal. There are several documents relating to homosexuality.
Molina (Gloria) papers, 1965-2014*
Gloria Molina was a Los Angeles County Supervisor from 1991-2014. Box 239 in this collection is "Gay [and lesbian] community," ranging from 1994-1995. Includes records related to GLAAD, The Center, and the Stonewall Democratic Club.
Pope (Alexander) papers, 1880-2000
Papers from lawyer and Los Angeles County Assessor Alexander Pope, primarily from the 1970s-1990. Box 248, Folder 7 includes materials relating to Pope's support of gay rights, fundraising, and HIV/AIDS research and testing.
Rall (Ted) papers, 1979-1998
This collection consists of original cartoons, book proposals, and manuscripts of American cartoonist, columnist, and author Ted Rall. Most of the cartoons are from 1979-1996. Relevant comics include: "The history of gay rights at a glance"; "Why did George Bush lose?"; "It was a day to be remembered"; "If Clinton lets gays in the Army, it will create chaos!"
Ray (Inna Jane) papers, 1970-2020
This collection contains materials related to the career and practice of queer poet, writer, and artist Inna Jane Ray. Ray was a founder of Native magazine, a small-run hand-made poetry magazine, and a landscape artist, working in color pencil and watercolor. The collection includes drafts for her books of poetry and her master's thesis in theology, scrapbooks with drawings and writings, select correspondence, and copies of publications, including a full run of Native magazine. There are also some pieces of her visual art. This collection is currently unprocessed and unavailable. Please contact Reader Services, reference@huntington.org, with questions.
Samaras (Connie) photographs, 1998-2016
Connie Samaras is a Los Angeles-based visual artist, focused primarily on photography. Her photograph series "Edge of Twilight" (2013) explores a women's mobile home retirement park and the lives of the owners who are predominantly lesbian. The name of the series derives from the pulp fiction novels that used "twilight" in their titles to signal lesbian content to a knowing audience. This collection is currently unprocessed and unavailable. Please contact Reader Services, reference@huntington.org, with questions.
Smith (​Lillian Eugenia) papers, 1943-2005​​​​​​
Lillian Eugenia Smith was a white writer and social critic of the American South. She wrote numerous works criticizing segregation and Jim Crow laws, including her best-selling and controversial novel Strange fruit (1944), about an interracial romance. Smith formed a lifelong relationship with Paula Snelling and the two remained in a closeted relationship for the rest of their lives. Together, Smith and Snelling founded and published a quarterly literary magazine, Pseudopodia, in 1936, which later came to be known as South today.
Thompson (Dunstan) papers, 1865-2014​​​​​​
A collection of the papers of American poet Dunstan Thompson, who lived in England beginning in the 1940s. Consists of manuscripts, book reviews, diaries, essays, poems, short stories, and correspondence, photographs, drawings, and ephemera. Thompson was a gay man and Catholic. In the 1930s, Thompson lost his faith, but later began practicing again in the 1950s, when it appears he stopped acting on his sexuality. Thompson had a lifelong partnership with Philip Trower, who he convinced to convert to Catholicism as well. They lived their lives in celibacy.
Whitman, Walt (1819-1892) Collection of Literary manuscripts
Several manuscripts of Walt Whitman’s poems can be found in The Huntington's literary collection, including: "Beginners" (title changed from "Thought"; published as one of the Inscriptions); "Come Said My Soul"; extracts from "Leaves of Grass"; and "To Him That Was Crucified." In addition, The Huntington also has several manuscripts of Whitman's prose, including an autobiographical sketch; "Hospital Notebook"; and "A Thought on Shakespeare." (For a detailed description of the Whitman material, please refer to the Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 1 (November 1955): 81-96.) 
Wilde, Oscar (1854-1900) Manuscript Collection
A small collection of manuscripts from Irish poet, novelist, and dramatist Oscar Wilde. Manuscripts include several verses, a lecture on the English renaissance of art, and letters to British painter Walford Graham Robertson.
Yang (Tsute & Lucy) papers, 1930s-2020
This collection focuses on Tsute Yang and his wife Lucy, as well as their son Lawrence (Larry). Tsute was a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Toledo, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, among other institutions. Lucy Yang's letters (in Chinese) make up a smaller portion of the collection but are equally interesting. Her letters include her effort to reunite with Tsute two years before the Chinese Revolution of 1949. This is followed by a group of letters (in English), stretching over five decades, written between Larry and his parents. This includes the time when Larry came out as a gay man to his parents, and their reactions and emotions were captured in this group of letters. This collection is currently unprocessed and unavailable. Please contact Reader Services, reference@huntington.org, with questions.
Yoch (Florence) papers, 1869, 1906-2013
Florence Yoch was an American landscape architect. In 1918, she founded her own landscape design firm, and in 1921, landscape architect Lucile Council joined the company as an apprentice. Yoch and Council became business and life partners, and in 1925 formed a partnership. Collection includes correspondence, photographs, blueprints, research notes, and Yoch's diary from 1949.
Zonta Club of Pasadena records, 1929-2015
The Pasadena chapter of the Zonta Club, an organization dedicated to advancing women in business. The collection includes material on the club's efforts to help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.​​​​

*online materials available

Contact the Huntington

For more information about the Huntington's LGTBQ+ collections and holdings, including citation and copyright information, please contact the Reference Desk.

✉ Email: reference@huntington.org
☎ Call: 626-405-2191

The Huntington is an L.A. as Subject member. For more information about L.A. as Subject, visit their website here.

This page has paths:

This page has tags:

This page references: