Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding aid of the Jeanne Córdova Papers and Photographs
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (186.09 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jeanne Córdova papers and photographs
    Dates: 1949-2008
    Bulk Dates: 1970-1999
    Collection number: Coll2008-064
    Creator: Córdova, Jeanne, 1948-
    Collection Size: 21 linear feet + 1 linear foot (unprocessed, awaiting conservation). (9 archive boxes + 3 archive cartons + 8 flat archive cartons + 1 map drawer + 1 box [unprocessed])
    Repository: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
    Los Angeles, California 90007
    Abstract: Photo albums, diaries, correspondence, minutes, manuscripts, clippings, posters, memorabilia, audiotapes, computer files and other material from lesbian activist, writer and publisher, Jeanne Córdova. In the early 1970s, Córdova began her career as a leader in the Los Angeles gay and lesbian and feminist movements by becoming President of the Los Angeles chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis; founding the publication, The Lesbian Tide; and becoming Human Rights Editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Free Press. In 1973, she was a key organizer of the first National Lesbian Conference, and in 1981, she founded the Community Yellow Pages, currently the nation's largest and most comprehensive LGBT directory. Her collection includes organizational records from publications she founded and several activist organizations she led; manuscripts and clippings of articles and books she wrote; personal diaries and correspondence with former lovers. Her collection also includes extensive photo albums with detailed annotation documenting her life and major events in the gay and lesbian liberation movement.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    The collection is open to researchers, with some restrictions. Access to materials marked "restricted" in the container list is restricted during the lifetime of Jeanne Córdova. Researchers wishing to access this material must obtain prior permission from Ms. Córdova. Researchers may apply for permission through ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives or directly from Ms. Córdova.

    Publication Rights

    Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).

    Preferred Citation

    Jeanne Córdova papers and Photographs, Coll2008-064, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The Jeanne Córdova collection comes from a series of donations from Jeanne Córdova in September - November, 2008.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, November 24, 2008. An additional 1 linear foot of deteriorated and damaged materials remains unprocessed, awaiting preservation and conservation.
    Processing this collection has been funded by generous grants from Jeanne Córdova and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


    Jeanne Robert Córdova was born on July 18, 1948 in Bremerhaven, Germany. Daughter of Federico Benito and Joan McGuinness, Jeanne is one of twelve siblings. In the 1950s, the family immigrated to New York and eventually relocated to Southern California. As a child, she attended Catholic school in West Covina and, in 1966, entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent in Santa Barbara, California. While she was a postulant, she began questioning her sexuality and subsequently became dissatisfied with the Catholic Church. She left the convent a year later, going on to earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees in social work from the University of California, at Los Angeles (UCLA.)
    In 1970, Córdova began her activist career by joining and, soon after, becoming President of the Los Angeles chapter of the lesbian rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). In 1971, the DOB newsletter, which Córdova edited, evolved into The Lesbian Tide, the first of five publications she founded. Throughout the 1970s to the 1990s, she was a key organizer or active participant in several events and organizations, including the 1971 West Coast Lesbian Conference; the 1973 National Lesbian Conference at UCLA; the 1977 International Women's Year Conference in Houston, Texas; the 1978 National Lesbian Feminist Organization Conference; a national gay and lesbian caucus at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, in which she served as a convention delegate; the No on California Proposition 64 (LaRouche) campaign in 1986; and numerous other gay and lesbian and women's rights causes. In addition, she founded or served on the board of several organizations, including the Stonewall Democratic Club, Connexxus Women's Business Alliance, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Press Association, Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, and ONE Institute and International Gay & Lesbian Archives.
    Córdova also has an extensive writing and publishing career. In addition to her work with The Lesbian Tide, she was also Human Rights Editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Free Press (1973 - 1976). She contributed works to numerous periodicals and anthologies, and in 1976, she wrote her first book, Sexism: It's a Nasty Affair. In 1981, she founded the Community Yellow Pages, which would eventually become the United States' largest and most comprehensive LGBT directory. In 1990, her second book was published, Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story, an autobiography recounting her experience in the convent. In addition to Community Yellow Pages, she founded and published Square Peg Magazine in 1992, a magazine devoted to queer culture and literature.
    In August 1995, Córdova married her partner, Lynn Harris Ballen, in a wedding ceremony in the Hollywood Hills. After selling Community Yellow Pages, Córdova and Ballen moved to Mexico in 1999. In 2007, they returned to Southern California. Jeanne Córdova remains active in the gay and lesbian and Chicana/Latina movements. In 2008, she founded LEX, The Lesbian Exploratorium, a non-profit organization devoted to culture and history; and she is currently working on a memoir entitled When We Were Outlaws. As of November 2008, Córdova continues to live with Ballen at their home in Altadena, California.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Jeanne Córdova papers and photographs comprise scrapbooks, photographs, diaries, organizational records, correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, posters, memorabilia, computer files, audiotapes and other materials documenting organizations and publications which Córdova founded; her leadership in the gay and lesbian and feminist activist movements from the 1970s through the 1990s; her published and unpublished books, articles and essays; her education and experience in a convent; and her relationships with family, friends and former lovers.
    The collection is divided into eight series: (1) Publishing, (2) Activism and Politics, (3) Writings, (4) Personal, (5) Scrapbooks and Photographs, (6) Posters, (7) Memorabilia and (8) Audiotapes and Computer Files. The Publishing Series consists of organizational records from three of the five publications Córdova founded: The Lesbian Tide (1971,) Community Yellow Pages (1981) and Square Peg (1992.) The Activism and Politics Series comprises correspondence, clippings, organizational records and other papers documenting Córdova's numerous activities in the gay and lesbian and feminist movements, including, but not limited to, organizing national lesbian conferences, serving on the boards of several organizations, and political campaigning. The Writings Series comprises manuscripts, notes, clippings and correspondence related to Córdova's published and unpublished works, including two unpublished memoirs, The Apostles and Anicha. The Personal Series consists of diaries, correspondence, date books, student papers, real estate records, financial records and other papers documenting Córdova's life from her time in a convent (1966-1967,) to her health complications, to her relationships with her family, friends and former lovers. The Scrapbooks and Photographs Series consists of material collected throughout Córdova's life, including her childhood in Germany (1948-1954.) The Posters Series consists of three posters, including "An Evening of Women's Music with Cris Williamson, Margie Adam, Meg Christian, Holly Near." The Memorabilia Series comprises buttons, t-shirts and other material from Córdova's activities in politics and the gay and lesbian movement. The final Audiocassettes and Computer Files Series comprises 10 audiocassettes and 34 floppy disks (5 1/4 in.) containing manuscripts, personal diary entries and other writings.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Córdova, Jeanne, 1948-
    Community Yellow Pages
    Daughters of Bilitis
    Gay activists--United States--California
    Gay liberation movement--California--Los Angeles
    Homosexuality--Political aspects
    Homosexuality--Religious aspects
    Lesbian authors--United States--20th century
    Lesbian feminism
    The Lesbian Tide
    Lesbians--Civil rights
    Los Angeles Free Press

    Separated Material

    Multiple issues of Community Yellow Pages, Square Peg and Lesbian News were separated from the Jeanne Córdova Collection and entered into the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archive's periodicals database.