Held at: John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center [Contact Us]1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Labyrinth began as a small collective at Sister space in 1983, and published its first issue in May 1984. They ran the organization as a collective, with an all-volunteer staff, until 1988 when they gained 501(c)(3) status. At this point, the collective reorganized into a corporation with a president, vice-president, and committees. This change coincided with a change in the paper's editorship. Most staff positions remained volunteer until 1995 when the newspaper was purchased by Adrienne Clemmer, and began publishing under "Westbury Publishing Inc." Labyrinth then split into two entities: the non-profit Women's Work Press, and the now for-profit newspaper.
Labyrinth was in publication for 16 years--from 1984-2000. At its inception, it was conceived of as a forum for feminist activism. This is evident in its statement of philosophy, which states that Labyrinth sought to "promote understanding" between diverse women, as well as "ultimately to change the conditions of oppression in which we live." After the management change in 1995, the newspaper limited its scope to "publishing writing that empowers women by informing and challenging them." The shift is clear in the subject matter that appeared in the newspaper--a national, news-oriented focus prevailed over more personal, local stories.
The Labyrinth office files span 16 years of meeting minutes, advertising, editorial process, financial information, and correspondence, both within the newspaper and between the newspaper and its readership. This collection serves as a valuable record of how one independent feminist press created a space for community voice. The records contain evidence of debate within the feminist movement, and show the grassroots nature of many such feminist organizations. This collection would be of interest to anyone who is conducting research on feminist presses of the 1980s and 1990s. Besides giving a sense of the workings of the collective itself, the collection shows the nature of support for the newspaper within the Philadelphia community--in terms of advertising, grant money, or distribution space. Correspondence from the readership shows the personal and political intimacy the newspaper often had for its intended audience, and how this intimacy encouraged a larger sense of community.
Positive and negative correspondence, both from readers and from within the collective, sheds light on the complicated dynamics of a feminist collective and its goal of representing diverse viewpoints within a newspaper that was intended for a very particular demographic group. This raises issues of how inclusive a collective can be, and shows how issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation created both tensions and points of connection within the collective and the larger community of its readership and supporters. Of peripheral interest is the way that the newspaper was perceived by its readership as a primarily "lesbian newspaper," even though it outwardly proclaimed itself a "feminist newspaper."
The collection is roughly organized into eight boxes by topic: "Box 1. Office files (non-financial)"; "Box 2. Computer diskettes and cancelled checks"; "Box 3. Photos/Graphics"; "Box 4. Financial Records"; "Box 5. Financial Records"; "Box 6. Subscription Information"; "Box 7. Miscellaneous"; and "Box 8. Advertising." An inventory is provided below.
Gift of Labyrinth, Inc., 1996.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2011-2012 as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR), using data provided by the John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia. The HCI-PSAR project was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was done in the HCI-PSAR project.
- John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using data provided by the John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia
- This preliminary finding aid was created by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) using data provided by the John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia for information about accessing this collection.