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Córdova (Jeanne) papers and photographs
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Separated Material
  • Separated Materials
  • Existence and Location of Copies

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    Title: Jeanne Cordova papers and photographs
    creator: Córdova, Jeanne
    Identifier/Call Number: Coll2008-064
    Physical Description: 33 Linear Feet 12 boxes, 6 cartons, 14 flat boxes, 1 mapcase drawer, and 20 oversize items.
    Date (inclusive): 1948-2011
    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.


    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. In 2011, her memoir, When We Were Outlaws, was published by Spinsters Inc. As of 2015, Córdova continues to live with Ballen at their home in Los Angeles, California.


    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

    [Box #, Folder #] 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. An additional 14 linear feet of material was donated in a series of donations on April 14, 2011, September 21, 2011, and November 28, 2011.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, November 24, 2008. An additional 14 linear feet of material was added to the collection in 2011, and processed in 2015. One box (1 linear foot) of deteriorated and damaged materials remains unprocessed.
    Processing this collection has been funded in part by Jeanne Córdova, and generous grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Council on Library and Information Resources.

    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 Papers, (5) Scrapbooks and Photographs, (6) Posters, (7) Memorabilia and (8) Sound Recordings, Video Recordings, 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 Papers 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 includes a poster for "An Evening of Women's Music with Cris Williamson, Margie Adam, Meg Christian, Holly Near," and posters for Robin Tyler and Jill Johnston. The Memorabilia Series comprises buttons, t-shirts and other material from Córdova's activities in politics and the gay and lesbian movement. The final Sound Recordings, Video Recordings, and Computer Files Series comprises audiocassettes, videocassettes (VHS), and floppy disks (5 1/4 in.) containing manuscripts, personal diary entries, and other writings.

    Separated Material

    Multiple issues of Community Yellow Pages, Square Peg and Lesbian News were separated from the Jeanne Córdova Collection and entered into ONE Archives' periodicals database.
    The following have been separated to the ONE periodical collection:
    Curve, Vol. 13, No. 1 (February 2003). Curve, Vol. 14, No. 8 (December 2004). Deneuve, Vol. 1, No. 4 (November/December 1991). Deneuve, Vol. 4, No. 4 (August 1994). Deneuve, Vol. 5, No. 1 (February 1995). Dyke, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 1975-76). Fugitive Information, No. 2 (1989). Globe, Vol. 43, No. 36 (September 3, 1996). Lavender Woman, August 1973. Lesbian Connection, Vol. 31, Iss. 1 (July/August 2008). Lesbian Herstory Archives Newsletter #11 (January 1990). Lesbian News, Vol. 33, No. 6 (January 2008). Lesbian News, Vol. 33, No. 7 (February 2008). Lesbian News, Vol. 33, No. 2 (September 2007). Off Our Backs, Vol. 7, No. 1 (February 1977). Old Lesbians Organizing for Change newsletter, Vol. 19, Iss. 2 (June 2009). The Second Wave, Vol. 4, No. 4 (1976). The Seeker, West Bay MCC, Vol. 1, No. 1 (March 1973). Speaking for Ourselves, Lesbian and Gay Elected and Appointed Officials and Candidates, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January-February 1990). Update, Iss. 57 (May 15, 1981).
    The following have been separated to the audiovisual collection:
    Margie Adam, Another Place (Pleiades Records, 1993), 1 audiocassette. Margie Adam, Songwriter, (undated), 1 audiocassette. Meg Christian, I Know You Know (Olivia Records, 1974), 1 audiocassette. Meg Christian, I Know You Know (Olivia Records, 1974), 1 record. Sue Fink, Big Promise (Ladyslipper Records, 1985), 1 audiocassette. Girls in the Nose, Origin of the World (Girls in the Nose, 1992), 1 audiocassette. Eloise Klein Healy, Some From Ten Poems 1975-1985 (Eloise Klein Healy, 1985), 1 audiocassette. Lavender Jane Loves Women (1975), 1 record. Marilyn T. Unrapped: Womanrap Poetry (Marilyn T., 1987), 1 audiocassette. Holly Near, Fire in the Rain (Redwood Records, undated), 1 audiocassette. Holly Near, Hang in There (Redwood Records, 1973), 1 audiocassette. Phranc, I Enjoy Being a Girl (Island Records, Inc., 1989), 1 audiocassette. Billy Tipton, Hi fi on Piano (Tops, 1958?), 1 phonograph record. Two Nice Girls, 2 Nice Girls (Rough Trade Records, Inc., 1989), 1 audiocassette.
    Lesbians and Other Women, by Lily Pond, 1975 calendar, has been separated to the calendar collection.
    The following have been separated to the ONE Library:
    Baker, Nikki, The Lavender House Murder, Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, Inc., 1993 (signed). Lustig, Harold L., 4 Steps to Financial Security for Lesbian and Gay Couples, New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1999. Middlebrook, Diane Wood, Suits Me: The Double Life of Bill Tipton, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. Sommers, Robbi, Uncertain Companions, Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, Inc., 1992.

    Separated Materials

    The following folders have been separated due to physical damage:
    "Freeing Ourselves," by members of Women Mobilized For Change, 1973
    ACT-UP / LA, 1990
    Feminist Women's Health Center Report, circa 1974
    Big Mama Rag, 1974
    New Directions for Women in New Jersey, 1974
    On the Way! Anchorage Women's Liberation Movement, 1974
    Plexus, 1976
    The Second Wave, 1973
    Handwritten Notes, Date unknown When We Were Outlaws; Idaho, 1980 Cordova Crier, circa 1980-2000

    Existence and Location of Copies

    A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available through the "LGBT Thought and Culture" collection of Alexander Street Press at the following link (login required): http://search.alexanderstreet.com/gltc/browse/archive-collection

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Gay activists -- United States -- California
    Gay liberation movement -- California -- Los Angeles
    Homosexuality -- Periodicals
    Homosexuality -- Political aspects
    Homosexuality -- Religious aspects
    Lesbian authors -- United States -- 20th century
    Lesbian feminism -- Archival resources
    Lesbians -- Civil rights
    Daughters of Bilitis
    Córdova, Jeanne