The collection is comprised of six boxes of interviews, each numbered according to which group in the sampling design a particular
interview belongs. The sampling design uses the following categories: sexual orientation (self-identified as lesbian or heterosexual);
relationship status (i.e., whether the mother lived with a partner or not); socioeconomic status (SES); and whether the mother
had her child in a marital situation (formerly married or never married). Lewin speaks in detail about these independent variables
in the appendix to her book. A copy of the appendix, as well as bibliographic information about the book, is included at the
end of the finding aid.
The interviews included in this collection are part of a research project on lesbian mothers that Ellen Lewin first conceived
for her doctoral dissertation in 1975. At this time Lewin felt that she must be somewhat secretive about her topic -- she
deliberately excluded the word "lesbian" from an early grant proposal. She conducted interviews of single mothers, both lesbian
and heterosexual, between 1977 and 1981. Her project reached maturity at a time of much greater acceptance of lesbian and
gay studies: in 1993 her book, Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture, was published by Cornell University Press. She donated her interview transcripts to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society
Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
Collection is open for research.