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Finding Aid for the Margaret A. Porter papers, 1900-1989
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Margaret A. Porter papers
    Date (inclusive): 1900-1989
    Collection number: 1906
    Creator: Porter, Margaret A.
    Extent: 37 boxes (21 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Margaret A. Porter was a distinguished poet and translator of French poetry, best known for her work under the pen name, Gabrielle L'Autre. The Margaret A. Porter Papers contain drafts of her published and unpublished original poetry from 1928 to1989, with the majority produced from the 1950s to the 1970s. Porter avidly researched and translated the work of Renée Vivien (1877-1909), Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), and other women from their expatriate literary circle in Paris. The collection includes drafts of Porter's translations of French poetry as well as Porter's most acclaimed published works, White Heron: a collection of poems (1974) and Muse of the Violets (1977). Also among the papers are photographs, correspondence, research files, materials related to Porter's participation in lesbian and feminist organizations in the San Diego area, over six decades of personal diaries, and an extensive collection of rare books related to Porter's interests, including 19th and 20th century French literature and poetry, lesbian history, feminism, and women in France.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Dr. William Moritz to June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, 1998.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Gloria Gonzalez in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli, 2011-2012.
    The processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia   funds.

    Publication Note

    The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive   at UCLA is an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives , the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW)  and the UCLA Library . These collections expand the pool of primary source materials available to researchers and to the community at large.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Margaret A. Porter papers (Collection 1906). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6942283 


    Margaret A. Porter (1911-1989), distinguished poet, dedicated her life to writing and translating verse and prose. She began writing poetry at the age of 12. At the same age, Porter observed that she was different, but did not yet know words to describe herself as a lesbian. Born on April 11, 1911 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Porter was raised in the Midwest and attended Marquette University. While in college, Porter first published under the nom de plume, Pierre E. Renet. Porter used the name Pierre to write poetry from the perspective of a man writing to his female muse, Alys. After receiving a B.A. in Journalism in 1934, Porter travelled out west to California as a vagabond. She began to write about her experiences in personal diaries, a practice she maintained throughout her adult life.
    In 1945 before the end of World War II, Porter joined the Women's Army Corps and served stateside for five years. During her first trip to France in 1951, Porter discovered the poetry of Renée Vivien (1877-1909), and began using the nom de plume Gabrielle L'Autre to write lesbian poetry. Porter's time in France also inspired her to become an avid researcher and translator of Vivien's poetry, along with that of Natalie Clifford Barney (1976-1972) and other literary members of expatriate France.
    Although the majority of Porter's written work remains unpublished, throughout the 1960s and 1970s she often contributed to small press publications including The Archer, New Athenaeum, South and West, Tres Femme, and The Ladder. During the same period of time Porter settled down in Oceanside, California, and became active in lesbian and feminist groups. Porter served as editor for the local Daughters of Bilitis Chapter, and later as co-founder of the groups Search and Tres Femme, for which she also wrote and edited newsletters and serial publications. In 1974, Porter published White Heron: a collection of poems. Along with Catherine Kroger, Porter was the first to publish English translations of Renée Vivien's poetry in the book, Muse of the Violets (1977). Porter died on May 30, 1989 in Oceanside, California.

    Scope and Content

    The Margaret A. Porter Papers document the personal and professional life of the distinguished poet and translator of French poetry. Materials are dated from 1900-1989, and range in type from unpublished manuscripts of original and translated poetry to correspondence, research files, and photographs. The collection includes Porter's journal collection, which contains six decades of poetry drafts and frequent diary entries. Other material includes Porter's Women's Army Corps uniform, personal photographs and newspaper clippings from Southern California news sources.
    The correspondence in the collection spans over four decades. Included are letters from researchers of lesbian history, including J.R. Roberts, and Lillian Faderman; Simone Burgues, Renée Vivien historian and daughter-in-law of Renee Vivien's tutor and confidant, Jean Charles-Brun in addition to Renée Vivien biographers Paul Lorenz, and Jean-Paul Goujot. Also among the papers are materials from lesbian and feminist organizations including newsletters, periodicals, meeting minutes, and event announcements of various lesbian, gay and women's organizations and groups in San Diego County, including Search, Très Femmes, and the local chapter of Daughters of Bilitis.
    Porter's original poetry includes manuscripts written over a period of almost six decades, including material written under the pseudonyms "Gabrielle L'Autre" and "Pierre E. Renet" and drafts from Porter's book, White Heron: a collection of poems (1974), as well as unpublished collections of poetry including Dog Days and Dark Particular Rose. Porter's poetry translations are from the French poetry of Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), Renée Vivien (1877-1909), and other women who once considered forming an "Academy of Women Writers" in Paris (ca. 1900-1910).
    Porter extensively researched the poets whose work she translated, and the collection includes research files with material related to Renée Vivien (1877-1909), Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), and expatriate women who lived in France around the turn of the 20th century. The last part of the collection contains representative sample of books from Porter's library, including books about 19th and 20th century French literature and poetry, 20th century English poetry, lesbian history, feminism, and women in France.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Personal Materials, 1933-1987
    2. Correspondence, 1943-1989
    3. Lesbian Organizations, 1972-1977
    4. Original Poetry, 1928-1989
    5. Translated Poetry, 1900-1980s
    6. Research Files, 1910-1985
    7. Porter Library, 1871-1988

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Porter, Margaret A., 1911-1989 --Archives.
    Lesbian authors --United States --Archival resources.

    Other Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Margaret A. Porter papers
    Moritz, William, 1941-2004, collector.
    June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive at UCLA.
    June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives.
    University of California, Los Angeles. Library.

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