R.I. LGBTQ+ History Resources

Providence Public Library

Providence Public Library

Periodicals: 

Options Magazine (1982-present) –

Providence Phoenix (1989-200?) – A popular  alternative press weekly that covered politics, music, art and culture. It also published an adult insert.

Headmaster Magazine (2010-present) – arts & culture magazine for gay men published in Providence, R.I.

The Searchlight (1915) – only a handful of issues but a fascinating look at “vice” in downtown Providence.

Archival Collections: 

AS220 Collection – includes content by & about LGBTQIA artists & performers

General Ephemera

Published Works: 

Meet the Neighbors (2004)

Rhode Island Feminist Yellow Pages (1982 & 1988) – Directories of mostly activist, services and small businesses that support feminist causes. Also includes several listings that are more specifically gay or lesbian. 

Brown University

Digital Collections:

Underground Rhode Island – Oral history collection of local artists by class taught by Paul Buhle. The description of the collection emphasizes the arts but, as it happens, many of these artists had LGBTQIA+ identities and were also activists. 

Hay Library:

Marc Paige Papers –  materials related to the gay rights and AIDS education activism of Marc Paige from 1992-2014

Records of ACT UP RI – AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) organizational records and other records related to AIDS in R.I. from 1987-1995.

Pembroke Archives:

Alumnae Oral History Collection – includes a number of interviews with lesbian and transgender alumnae of Brown including Finch Collins, Justice Gaines, Martha Gardner, Ryan Segur, and Maggie Wenig,

COYOTE RI Records & COYOTE RI Sex Surveys – organizational records of COYOTE Rhode Island, a group of sex workers, former sex workers, trafficking victims, and allies, who advocate for policies that promote the health and safety of people involved in the sex industry, 1990-2019.

Anne Fausto-Sterling papers – Primarily includes research on Intersexuality, the intersexuality rights movement and the relationship between gender and biology. Also includes materials related to affirmative action, sex discrimination and women’s studies at Brown University, 1960-1991.

Leslie C. Doonan activist files – documents Doonan’s work as a social justice feminist and a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Union of Rhode Island, 1968-2003.

 Jodi L. Glass papers – documentation of a number of feminist organizations and movements in R.I., 1978-2002.

Karen Newman papers – includes a rare copy of “Not Guilty” a student magazine creation in 1988 by the Brown gay/lesbian student alliance with cover art by Keith Haring.

Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender records – includes materials regarding lesbian activism on campus from 1970-1992.

Malana Krongelb Zine Collection – several titles of note about LGBTQ+ life in Providence include:

  • How We Kiss: Privilege on the Dance Floor re: queer safe spaces in Providence, RI
  • Scream Queens Magazine (Issue 1, Volume 1) re: queer and trans people of color, pirate radio, art and music, and Deville’s lesbian bar in Providence Rhode Island
  • Queer and Trans Zinefest Zine; contains program for zinefest held at AS220 in Providence, RI
  • A Zine for QTPOC Voices by bluestockings magazine 

Other Libraries & Archives

There are so many libraries and archives in Rhode Island and it’s worth contacting them directly as not all resources are described online.  Here are some notable resources:

Rhode Island College

Gay Community News (1981-1989) – a periodical published out of Boston, but covered Providence events and news.

Social & Political Materials Collection – includes a small number of newsletters for local LGBTQ+ organizations from the late 1970s-1980s.

Rhode Island Historical Society

Raymond J. Pettine papers – Judge Pettine served as Senior Judge in the U.S. District Court of R.I. His papers include his rulings on permitting the first gay pride parade in 1976 and the first openly gay student couple to attend prom.

Julian Mitchell papers – includes records for Housing Partners for Positive Living in Woonsocket, a housing facility for elderly or disabled people living who are HIV positive.

Imperial Court of Rhode Island materials – an assorted mix of materials from the 1990s Imperial Court coronations.

Film Collections – very large collection of news and broadcast media footage including WJAR and WPRI. Not all of it is cataloged, but it’s worth checking with librarians because they’ve been especially working to identify footage related to LGBTQ+ history.

Options Magazine (1982-present)

Kaleidoscope (1999-) – R.I. Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee periodical

RI Lesbian & Gay Resource Guides (1994 & 1998)

Divine Providence (2007-2009) – a publication promoting businesses in RI that support LGBTQ+ people.

Rhode Island State Archives

Materials may be embedded in larger collections, but it’s worth looking at:

The Legislative Index

Newport Police records (1890s-1970s)

Long Term Care Coordinating Council records – Includes the records of the LGBT Elder Care subgroup (a partnership with SAGE), 1987-2004.

University of Rhode Island

Much of the available material is documents life on the campus of URI.

Gender & Sexuality Center records

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Center 

President’s Commission on LGBTQ issues

Women’s Center records 

For materials related to statewide history, it’s worth checking:

R.I. Episcopal Church records – for records related to gay unions & marriages in the diocese.

R.I. Political Papers – URI hold the papers of a variety of governors and congresspeople. Materials related to issues and legislation can be found among several individual collections.

Community Resources

There are so many excellent community resources for the R.I. LGBTQ+ community.  Some that are particularly excellent resources for the history of LGBTQ+ people in Rhode Island include:

Rhode Island Pride 

SAGE RI & SAGE RI History Club