Monday, July 29, 2013

From the June Mazer Lesbian Archives: Diane F. Germaine Papers

By collecting and preserving the documentation and materials that are central to women’s lives, the June Mazer Lesbian Archives preserves details of American culture that have long been invisible in archival histories.  The Diane F. Germain papers exemplify this fact. 

Germain is a French-American lesbian-feminist psychiatric social worker. She conducts the Lesbian History Project and created and conducted a strength group for Women Survivors of Incest and/or childhood molestation for five years. She was one of the founding members of Dykes on Hikes, The Lesbian Referral Services, Beautiful Lesbian Thespians and California Women's Art Collective. She was an early principal member of the San Diego Lesbian Organization and a collective member of both Las Hermanas and Califia, a separatist lesbian community.

She worked at Lambda Archives throughout the 1990s, interviewing women in order to preserve lesbian history and gathering collections. She later returned to serve as their Student Volunteer Coordinator. She was the staff cartoonist for HotWire: The Journal of Women's Music, Culture of Chicago and Lesbian News.  Her writing and artwork was featured in various publications, including Les Talk: The Magazine for Empowering Lesbians/Womyn.  She is featured in both the anthology Tomboys!, edited by Lynne Yamaguchi and Karen Barber, and Lesbian Culture: An Anthology, edited by Julia Penelope and Susan J. Wolfe.

Germain was not only interested in documenting her own experiences, but also in documenting the representation of women in the media as well as preserving lesbian culture on the whole for posterity. Therefore, the content of this collection is varied. The collection contains materials from activist organizations in which Germain was herself involved, as well as information and resources for other like-minded organizations. She also collected magazine and newspaper clippings that included her art work (some of which include her commentary). Financial documents and other organizational records relating to the Las Hermanas coffee house and presentations meant for the Califia Community are included in the collection.

Materials also include video tapes of community events and speakers, extensive flyers, brochures, and other papers regarding lesbian and feminist political events, clippings documenting offensive depictions of LGBT people and women in media, photography, correspondence, and other ephemera and realia.

Because Germain has worn so many hats, from cartoonist to historian to leader of a strength group for abuse survivors, her collection offers documentation of many diverse facets of lesbian life and culture throughout the second half of the twentieth century. 

–Ben Raphael Sher

Ben Sher is a doctoral student in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and a graduate student researcher at CSW.

The finding aid for this collection is available for viewing at the Online Archive of California ( Digitized materials from the collection and the finding aid will be available for viewing on the UCLA Library’s Digital Collections website. This research is part of an ongoing CSW research project, “Making Invisible Histories Visible: Preserving the Legacy of Lesbian Feminist Activism and Writing in Los Angeles,” with Principal Investigators Kathleen McHugh, CSW DIrector and Professor in the Departments of English and Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA and Gary Strong, University Librarian at UCLA. Funded in part by an NEH grant, the project is a three-year project to arrange, describe, digitize, and make physically and electronically accessible two major clusters of June Mazer Lesbian Archive collections related to West Coast lesbian/feminist activism and writing since the 1930s.

For more information on this project, visit For more information on the activities of the Mazer, visit

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