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"Box of vintage gay zines" and "Queer elders project" collection

Identifier: Ms-Coll-69

Scope and Contents

This collection is made up of three series.

The first series (I) is made up of LGBT-related magazines and chapbooks, as well as a fact sheet on wages from the US Department of Labor and a sexuality survey titled “Lesbian Questionnaire,” produced from 1969 through 1991. These were displayed at Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the exhibit titled "The Philadelphia Queer Elders Project" from November to December, 2019. The magazines and chapbooks are national in origin, with a portion focusing on and produced in Vermont. Most of the items were produced by small presses or self-published. The magazines and chapbooks have multiple authors and contributors. Materials are arranged alphabetically by title.

The second series (II) includes the preserved Instagram account "@BoxOfVintageGayZines" which the collection spawned. The Instagram is preserved via Webrecorder and is available to browse.

The third series (III) includes materials from the exhibit, including the exhibit guide and digital photos taken at the opening of the exhibit, which took place on November 3, 2019. The exhibit guide is a PDF file which displays the layout of the exhibit, gives citations for the materials displayed, and gives thanks to affiliates of the project. Photos of the exhibit opening are archived on Dropbox.

The periodicals in this collection focus primarily on lesbianism, feminism, the women's liberation movement, and the gay liberation movement, as well as a particular focus on the lesbian separatist movement. Topics within the periodicals also include gay men, socialism, and Vermont, but to a lesser extent. Formats found within this collection include Poetry, Essays, Magazines, Chapbooks, and Periodicals.

Note: Issue 17 of “Country Women” Magazine was part of the original collection. It was kept by the donor and not included in the donation. Copies of "Country Women" can be found in the Archives' Periodical collection.


  • 1969-1991, 2019

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may exist.

It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives of the William Way LGBT Community Center.

Biographical / Historical

This collection began its life as a box of LGBT magazines and chapbooks that was left on the side of the road for trash collection in Burlington, Vermont in November of 2018. It was found by the brother of Anna Pachner of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was subsequently given to her. Wanting to bring visibility and accessibility to the materials, Pachner created an Instagram account with an archival tone titled "BoxOfVintageGayZines" to highlight excerpts of the magazines and their citations. The Instagram account generated significant interest and as of March 11, 2020 has 560 followers. Pachner decided to cease posting new content on the account following the donation of this collection.

In order to make physical interaction with the materials possible, Pachner, with the help of Katie Rauth, co-curated an archival exhibition titled "The Philadelphia Queer Elders Project," along with a series of programming at the Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia in November and December of 2019. The exhibit space was arranged as what Pachner and Rauth imagined the living room of the previous owner of the collection to be, with the magazines available for browsing on a coffee table, and notable excerpts from the magazines photocopied and placed along the walls of the gallery. Ephemera, including pins, bandanas, t-shirts, cassette tapes, matchbooks, and chapbooks from local queers and on-loan from the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives were on display in glass cases in the space. The accompanying programming included an “Archival Dive Workshop” where queer intergenerational writers used the materials to reflect on their own gay histories, as well as an “Intergenerational Community Quilting Bee” at the John C. Anderson Apartments, where participants worked on a quilt that was featured in the exhibit. The quilt included patches created by the attendees that featured names of elder queer community members, inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. The exhibit and accompanying programming endeavored to bring together disparate generations of queer people by creating a space that allowed for bonding and interaction with the materials and each other, thereby reducing some of the dissonance between younger and older generations.

Anna Pachner is a queer attorney and artist, with a background in LGBT family law, living and working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Katie Rauth is a queer multi-disciplinary artist and member of Vox Populi Gallery living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Before being the subject of The Philadelphia Queer Elders Project, the materials had long belonged to Donna Lescoe, of Starksboro, Vermont. Originally from Southern California, Lescoe moved to Burlington in 1972. She attended the University of Vermont, where she founded their first Gay Student Union. She collected these materials over many decades, acquiring them through various means including through subscriptions, by one-off purchases at radical independent bookstores, and as gifts from friends. Lescoe knew these materials were important to gay history and held onto them for decades because of this. After unsuccessful attempts over many years to find an archive that would take the materials, they were finally put out for trash collection.


.6 Linear feet (2 document boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection began as a box of LGBT magazines, chapbooks, and other material that was left on the side of the road for trash collection in Burlington, Vermont in November of 2018 and subsequently went on to be the subject of a successful gallery exhibit and Instagram account. This collection is made up of three series: Series I includes the contents of the found box, Series II includes the preserved Instagram account, and Series III includes materials related to the exhibit.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Anna Pachner, 2020

Related Materials

John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center:

William Way LGBT Community Center periodicals collection, 1940s-present, Ms. Coll. 37, includes poetry and literature journals and serial anthologies arranged by title. (Issues not found in the collection can be found here.)

William Way LGBT Community Center LGBT poetry, prose, music, and photography chapbooks collection, 1965-2017, Ms.Coll.58

LGBTQ zines collection, 1992-2019, Ms.Coll.68

"Box of vintage gay zines" and "Queer elders project" collection, 1969-1991, 2019
In Progress
Katarina Troutman
January 24, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center Repository

1315 Spruce Street
Philadelphia PA 19107