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Authority record
Holborn Lesbian activism

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.

London Women's Centre

  • Corporate body
  • c.1970s-c.2000

Based at Wesley House, 4 Wild Court, the London Women’s Centre was a thriving hub for women’s orgs for around three decades. The Centre was home to numerous women’s and feminist groups, including the National Abortion Campaign, Asian Women’s Network, Microsyster, English Collective of Prostitutes, Women’s Network for Palestine, Camden Women’s Bus, London Fat Women's Group, Lesbian Archive and Information Centre, Women's Information and Resource Exchange (WIRES), Women's Resource Centre, and many more.

From 1984-1996, the LWC housed Lesbian Archive & Information Centre, whose collections now live here at GWL. The Lesbian Archive makes up around one-third of our total archive holdings, and the LAIC library – up on the mezzanine level of our home in Bridgeton – comprises feminist and lesbian feminist literature, many of which titles are increasingly rare and hard to come by.

Facing increasing pressure from their main funder, Camden Council, to turn away from their explicitly feminist focus and instead become a more commercial venture, the LWC rebranded themselves as a music and events venue The Wheel in the mid 1990s. The rebrand was ultimately unsuccessful and Wesley House closed around 2000 (date unconfirmed).