CLGA Digital Collections

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Lesbians Making History Collections

Dublin Core


Lesbians Making History Collections


The Lesbians Making History (LMH) collective came together in the mid-1980s and was inspired by oral history projects of gay lives coming out of Buffalo, Boston and San Francisco. The collective interviewed 9 women about their experiences as ‘out’ lesbians in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

Collective members included:

Rachel Epstein
Maureen FitzGerald
Amy Gottlieb
Didi Khayatt
Mary Louise Noble
Lorie Rotenberg

Some of the women interviewed also appeared in Aerlyn Weissman and Lynne Fernie’s NFB-funded documentary Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives. The 1992 film was out of print for many years until 2014, when the National Film Board released it in digital format.

Although the organizers of Lesbians Making History were committed to keeping the project a community-based initiative, and not one rooted in academic pursuit, they allowed Elise Chenier, now a professor at Simon Fraser University, to use the transcripts of the interviews for her MA thesis. Chenier’s work on lesbian bar culture in the 1950s and 60s is widely taught in Canadian universities. Interview material was also used by Cameron Duder and by Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile.

In 2014 the original audio tapes were given to the CLGA via the LGBTQ Digital Oral History Collaboratory, a multi-institutional research project led by University of Toronto professor Elspeth Brown and funded by a 5-year SSRHC Insight grant.

Embedded at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA), Collaboratory members digitized LMH materials and created new verbatim transcriptions. Original LHM collective members assisted with editing transcripts, identifying key words and writing abstracts for each oral history interview.


Lesbians Making History Collective


1985-1987, 2000


Maureen Fitzgerald; LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory (Elspeth Brown, PI)


CLGA holds non-exclusive rights


1950s to 1970s, 1985-1987

Items in the Lesbians Making History Collections Collection

Oral History with Betty Burrows & Shirley Shea, 1987
Betty was born on a farm just outside in Sydney, Australia and Shirley was born in Sudbury in 1924. The two meet in Toronto in the 1960s, where they were apart of the lesbian bar scene that gravitated around The Continental. At the time of the…

Oral History with Eve Zaremba, 1986
Eve Zaremba was born in Poland in 1930. The Second World War displaced her family to Scotland and England, where she was sent to a boarding school in Reading until the age of 15. Zaremba leaves school in 1945 and moves with her family to Southern…

Oral History with Jeanne Healy, 1985
Jeanne is an activist and retired bookkeeper and secretary. She was born in 1924, the youngest and only girl of five siblings and grew up and lived for a major part of her life in Toronto. At the time of the interview she was back living with her…

Oral History with Jeanne Healy, Lois Stuart, and Jackie, 1985
This interview begins as a conversation between Lois, a retired schoolteacher and activist in Southern Ontario, and Jeanne, a retired secretarial worker and activist. Partway through the interview, Jackie enters and dominates much of the discussion.…

Oral History with Lois Stewart, 1985
Born in 1920, Lois Stewart is a political activist and retired schoolteacher who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. After teaching in Victoria during World War 2, Lois moved to Southern Ontario, where she taught in a number of cities and towns…

Oral History with Pat Murphy, 1986
Pat Murphy was born in 1941 to an Irish-Catholic working-class family in Toronto, Canada. Murphy trained as a nurse and worked initially at Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital in 1964, where she had her first lesbian relationship with a co-worker. The…

Eve Zaremba, Amy Gottlieb, Maureen FitzGerald, and Elspeth Brown at Lesbians Making History Launch
Photo taken at launch of Lesbians Making History Digital Collection, held at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, June 7, 2015.

Amy Gottlieb, Didi Khayatt, Maureen FitzGerald, and Lynne Fernie at Lesbians Making History Launch.
Some of the original participants in the Lesbians Making History Project and friends pose at the launch of the digital collection at the CLGA, June 7, 2015.

Didi Khayatt at Lesbians Making History Digital Collection launch.
Didi Khayatt, a Lesbians Making History Collective member, addresses the audience at the Lesbians Making History digital collection launch, CLGA, June 7, 2015.

Audience at Lesbians Making History Launch
Photograph of the audience at the launch of the Lesbians Making History digital collection, June 7, 2015, CLGA

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