Collection CLCBLG - Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group Archive

Original Digital object not accessible

Identity area

Reference code

GB 1534 CLCBLG

Title

Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group Archive

Date(s)

  • 1964 - 2001 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

43 archive boxes of textual, photographic and audio visual material.

Context area

Name of creator

(1982-1996)

Administrative history

The Camden Lesbian Centre Project (CLCP) was founded in 1982, when several women from a loose social collective known as Kentish Town Lesbian Group (based at the nearby Kentish Town Women’s Workshop) recognised the need for a space expressly for lesbians. The group - all of whom were white lesbians - successfully applied for grant funding from Camden Council Women's Committee, and they began organising regular meetings and events with a view to establishing a centre for lesbians. In 1984, the Black Lesbian Group was founded as a support group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour, who faced the tripartite barriers of homophobia, racism, and misogyny; the group used the term 'Black' in the broader political sense.

Having worked closely together, Camden Lesbian Centre Project and the Black Lesbian Group merged to form the Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCBLG) in 1985. Despite their differences and the fact that CLCP had originally excluded Black lesbians from its initial stages, BLG members felt the merger presented an opportunity to improve things for their community. The merger agreement stipulated that at least 50% of CLCBLG's staff and its Management Committee would comprise Black lesbians and that around half of the Centre's events and workshops would be for Black lesbians only.

From 1985-86, CLCBLG sought out premises across Camden. Although initially unsure of how the site would work for them, the group eventually applied for a change of use for a former retail space at 54-56 Phoenix Road, which they were granted amidst vocal resistance and homophobia from some local residents. The group signed the lease in September 1986. CLCBLG worked with Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative, Support Community Building and Common Ownership Design and Construct (CODAC) to renovate and alter the Centre before opening its doors to the public on Saturday 31 October 1987. From this point onward, the Centre was a social and political hub for many strands of London's lesbian community, becoming home to workshops, socials, seminars, discussion groups and other events. It became the base of groups like the Older Lesbian Network, Zamimass Black lesbian group, and GEMMA, the friendship network for disabled and non-disabled lesbians.

With successive and ever more severe cuts to grant funding from Camden Council, CLCBLG was forced to scale down its paid staff members and operations from c.1990 onwards. The Centre eventually wrapped up its operations in 1996, when the group was informed that they'd receive no grant funding in that year's budget.

Repository

Archival history

This collection was originally part of the Lesbian Archive and Information Centre (LAIC). The collection was box listed in the early 2010s by GWL's Archivist, who appears to have largely retained the order imposed on it by CLCBLG workers and/or LAIC workers. It was subsequently catalogued and arranged into 8 series by Lucy Brownson in Summer 2021.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated as part of the LAIC collection in c.1995.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers and correspondence of Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCLBLG), a lesbian feminist collective and physical space (c.1982-1995). Includes autograph, typescript, printed and photocopied material.

The archive includes: personal and business correspondence; CLCBLG administrative records including annual reports, diaries, meeting minutes and agendas, employee information packs, policy and procedural documents, and related material; CLCBLG Management Committee administrative records, including meeting minutes; CLCBLG newsletters; CLCBLG publicity material including flyers, posters and leaflets; press cuttings covering CLCBLG’s development, contemporary lesbian and gay issues, and related issues and communities; newsletters and bulletins of various other women’s, feminist, LGBTQ+, community and/or voluntary organisations; feminist and/or LGBTQ+ periodicals and journals; papers, programmes, flyers and other material relating to various women’s and/or lesbian feminist conferences; literature, flyers and circular correspondence relating to global solidarity campaigns with women in the Global South (e.g., South Africa, Namibia, Chile, indigenous Australian communities, Peru, India, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and elsewhere); administrative records of Camden Council Women’s Committee including meeting minutes; administrative records of Camden Council Lesbian and Gay Unit including meeting minutes; administrative records of A Woman’s Place including meeting minutes and correspondence; literature relating to women’s health and wellbeing, including resource guides and reports; audio cassettes; VHS tapes; material relating to various feminist collectives and women’s groups, including briefings, journals, bulletins, information sheets, legal guidance; academic journal articles and longform journalism; administrative records of London Women’s Centre at Wesley House, 4 Wild Court including meeting minutes, correspondence relating to events and premises, and material relating to groups based at the Centre.

The collection also contains a sizeable photographic archive including original photographs, slides, prints, photocopied and printed images, many of which appear to have originated with – or been featured in – Outwrite women’s newspaper. Many of these photographs document CLCBLG’s life and its members, while others document local, national and international protests, struggles and activist campaigns.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

No further accruals expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged into 8 series of textual, photographic and audiovisual material.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

To access this collection, please contact the Archivist at Glasgow Women’s Library by email at nicola.maksymuik@womenslibrary.org.uk.

Conditions governing reproduction

Please consult with the Archivist at Glasgow Women’s Library.

Language of material

  • Arabic
  • English
  • French
  • French-based Creole or Pidgin
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish

Script of material

    Language and script notes

    The collection primarily comprises English-language material.

    Physical characteristics and technical requirements

    Legacy media such as VHS tapes, photographic slides and audio cassettes require legacy technology in order to access their content.

    Finding aids

    Allied materials area

    Existence and location of originals

    The material is original.

    Existence and location of copies

    Related units of description

    Related descriptions

    Notes area

    Alternative identifier(s)

    Access points

    Place access points

    Name access points

    Genre access points

    Description control area

    Description identifier

    GB 1534 CLCBLG

    Institution identifier

    GB 1534

    Rules and/or conventions used

    ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000)

    Status

    Level of detail

    Partial

    Dates of creation revision deletion

    Created Summer 2021

    Language(s)

    • English

    Script(s)

      Archivist's note

      Collection catalogued to file level by Lucy Brownson, a white, cisgender queer woman, during a GWL project placement in Summer 2021.

      Digital object (Master) rights area

      Digital object (Reference) rights area

      Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

      Accession area