Chicago’s gay archive

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Chicago’s Gerber/Hart Library is named after Henry Gerber, who started the Society for Human Rights, believed to be the first gay rights organization in the United States, and Pearl Hart, a civil rights-era attorney who spent much of her career defending gay rights, and was founded in 1981 by historian Greg Sprague, who had earlier launched the Chicago Gay History Project.

It holds more than 14,000 volumes, 800 periodical titles and 100 archival collections, including the founding documents of Chicago LGBT institutions like the Howard Brown Health Center as well as personal diaries, artwork and newspaper clippings from the earliest days of the gay civil rights movement.

The library also has some of the original signs from Carol’s Speakeasy, a legendary Chicago gay bar from the late 1970s to the ’90s, and a pair of sequined red ruby slippers signed in 1992 by members of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus.

Updated 22 November 2014: Photographs are no longer available.


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