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Stonewall archive highlights first national lesbian magazine in the U.S.


Options Magazine photo of an old issue of The Ladder from the Stonewall National Museum & Archives.
Photo of an old issue of The Ladder courtesy of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives.

This week the Stonewall National Museum & Archives e-newsletter highlighted The Ladder, the oldest nationally distributed lesbian magazine in the United States. They noted that while another publication called Vice-Versa was in publication earlier, it was never nationally distributed.


The Ladder was first published in 1956 by the Daughters of Bilitis, an organization considered to be the first lesbian rights group in the United States which was founded in San Francisco in 1955.


The Stonewall Museum e-newsletter highlighted the following quote:

“Much of the content of The Ladder carried forward the goals of the Daughters of Bilitis by emphasizing the normalcy of lesbians. Each issue featured the mission statement of the organization printed inside the front cover, with their four-point goals that included ‘education of variant,’ ‘education of the public,’ ‘participation in research projects,’ and ‘investigation of the penal code as it pertains to the homosexual’ (The Ladder 2)” (ONE Archives, USC Libraries 2018).


Archived issues of The Ladder can be viewed on the Internet Archive here or from the UC Berkeley Library, and archival documents from the Daughters of Bilitis can be viewed on the Stonewall Museum Digital Collections webpage.

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