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Authority record
Lesbian Archive London

Lesbian Archive and Information Centre

  • GB 1534 LAIC
  • Corporate body
  • 1984-1996

The Archive began in London in 1984, firstly under the name of London Lesbian Archive and later as the Lesbian Archive and Information Centre (LAIC). It was funded by the Greater London Council, supporting the wages of one full-time and two part-time workers to develop and sustain a collection of UK lesbian history and culture. LAIC operated out of the London Women's Centre at Wesley House, 4 Wild Court, London, along with many other feminist collectives and women's organisations. Like Glasgow Women’s Library’s own collection, materials in the archive were all donated.

In the early years the archive collection mainly comprised lesbian books including literature, pulp fiction and a significant amount of lesbian & gay as well as feminist non-fiction. It received donations of duplicates from other feminist libraries and archives in the UK, such as Bath Feminist Archive (which is now incorporated into the collection of Feminist Archives South). LAIC also took donations of journals and pamphlets, oral histories, foreign language materials, organisational records, press clippings and manuscripts from individual women, and by the late 1980s the LAIC had amassed an impressive and unique collection of lesbian women’s materials. The collection ranges from organisational records and personal archives to journals and ephemera.

Like many of its sister organisations, LAIC went through turbulent periods in its history. Shifting dynamics in feminist, lesbian and queer politics meant that the collection occasionally faced division, and even at times closure. The political landscape of the 1980s and early 1990s consistently put pressure on funding, and laws such as Section 28 caused precarity, uncertainty and turbulence for projects like LAIC. By 1995, funding the Archive became impossible and new premises were sought. Glasgow Women’s Library housed the collection as a donation; today, the Lesbian Archive comprises around one-third of GWL's entire archive, and LAIC's (uncatalogued) library collection is housed on the mezzanine level.

Women's Health and Reproductive Rights Information Centre

  • Corporate body
  • 1988-2006

Women's Health was formed in 1988 as a merger between the Women's Reproductive Rights Information Centre (WRRIC) and Women's Health Information Centre (WHIC). The Women's Health Information Centre formed in 1982; Women's Health Information Centre was established in 1983 after a split from the National Abortion Campaign. At the time of the merger, the group was known as the Women's Health and Reproductive Rights Information Centre (WHRRIC), before changing its name to Women's Health.

The aim of the centre was to provide information and support to women on health and reproductive issues, motivated by the idea of information as a form of political empowerment. They worked with, and acted as a resource for, medical professionals, women in health groups, self-help groups, community groups and trade unions in line with the ethos of the Women's Liberation Movement. The centre collected resources relating to all areas of women's health, including books, leaflets, journals, press cuttings and articles. As well as providing an information service, the centre was politically active, and made submissions to the House of Commons Select Committee on AIDS, as well as acting as a point of contact for the media on women's health and reproductive issues.

Women's Health was based near Old Street and closed in 2006.

City Limits

  • Corporate body
  • 1981-1993

City Limits was an alternative culture and event listings magazine for London, published weekly. It was founded by former Time Out staff writers as a co-operative, after TO owner Tony Elliott refused to adopt co-operative working principles. City Limits initially took a vocally radical feminist stance, though later investors tried to rebrand the title as a women's lifestyle magazine.

Capital Gay

  • Corporate body
  • 1981-1995

Capital Gay was a free, weekly London newspaper established by Graham McKerrow and Michael Mason. It was priced at 20p when first published but became free six months later, and went on to be Britain's longest-running free gay newspaper. It was initially distributed only in London but was later also distributed in Brighton. Its readership eventually grew to around 20,000.

Camden Women's Bus

  • Corporate body
  • 1983-late 1980s

Camden Women's Bus was a mobile women's information and resource centre, funded by the Greater London Council. The centre comprised a double-decker bus, chosen because it offered a means of connecting with women who were otherwise unable to attend in-person meetings because of socioeconomic, health, caring and lifestyle-related barriers. Its organisers (and drivers) were Louisa John-Baptiste, Anna Birch, and Juleikha [surname unknown].

Project for Advice, Counselling and Education (PACE)

  • Corporate body
  • 1985-2016

Project for Advice, Counselling and Education (PACE) was a London-based charity promoting the health and wellbeing of LGBT people, through the provision of free or low-cost counselling, therapy, groupwork, advocacy, youthwork, employment and other services. Established in 1985, PACE became a vital support network for many living in London and beyond - particularly in the context of Section 28, the homophobic law prohibiting the 'promotion of homosexuality'. PACE dissembled in 2016.

Zamimass

  • Corporate body
  • 1990-c.1998

Zamimass was a radical Black lesbian collective which explicitly aligned itself with socialist politics and intersectional freedom struggles. The group began in December 1990 when three Black lesbians organised Zami Love Day, an alternative celebration to Christmas Day featuring poetry readings, music, and a communal meal. Following this, Zamimass coordinated community actions, creative and cultural events, and a regular newsletter, as well as printing posters and other ephemera. From 1991 onward they met regularly at Camden Lesbian Centre, until the space closed around 1995; after this point, they apparently continued some of their activities before winding down in the late 1990s. The collective's manifesta, a copy of which can be found in the Camden Archive, sets out their vision for working towards liberation along lines of class, race, dis/ability, sexuality, gender, and education.

DAHLING

  • Corporate body
  • c.1990s

DAHLING was a social group for D/deaf, HoH and hearing lesbians. They held regular socials and planning meetings at Camden Lesbian Centre in the early to mid 1990s.

Southall Black Sisters

  • Corporate body
  • 1979-

Southall Black Sisters (SBS), a not-for-profit, secular and inclusive organisation, was established in 1979 to meet the needs of Black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. Their aims are to highlight and challenge all forms gender-related violence against women, empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom.

For over three decades SBS have been at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender-related violence locally and nationally, and have campaigned for the provision of proper and accountable support services to enable women and their children to escape violent relationships and live in dignity. They run an advice, advocacy and resource centre in West London which provides a comprehensive service to women experiencing violence and abuse and other forms of inequality. SBS offers specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy, counselling and self-help support services in several community languages, especially South Asian languages.

ONYX: The social and discussion group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour

  • Corporate body
  • c.1989-c.1995

ONYX was a social and discussion group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour. By its own definition, it encompassed '[a]ll lesbians descended (through one or both parents) from Africa, Asia (i.e. the Middle East to China, including the Pacific Nations) and Latin America, and lesbians descended from the original inhabitants of Australasia, North America and the islands of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean'. The group met once or twice monthly, first at London Friend at 86 Caledonian Road (c.1989-1991) and later at Camden Lesbian Centre & Black Lesbian Group at 54-56 Phoenix Road (from 1991 onwards); discussion and publicity were led by volunteers.

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