Barbara Gittings and her life partner Kay Tobin Lahusen were pioneers in the gay rights movement. After coming out during her freshman year at Northwestern University, Gittings became keenly aware of the difficulty of finding material to help her understand her gay identity. An inveterate organizer, she helped found the New York chapter of the early Lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) in 1957, and she became well known in the 1960s for organizing the first gay rights demonstrations at the White House and Independence Hall. Gittings later worked with organizations from the American Library Association to the American Psychiatric Association to address systematic forms of anti-gay discrimination.
The Gittings-Lahusen Gay Book Collection contains nearly 1,000 books on the gay experience in America collected by Gittings and Lahusen throughout their career. The contents range from a long run of The Ladder, the DOB magazine co-edited by the couple, to works on the psychology and sociology of homosexuality, works on religious and political issues, novels and histories by gay authors, and examples of the pulp fiction of the 1950s and 1960s.
- Gay rights