"An important reason why the lesbian archives was founded in Berlin, was that at that time, history was seen only through men's eyes and lesbian culture was totally invisible."
Spinnboden is the largest collection of Lesbian documents in Europe. It was established in the context of the gay and women's liberation movement in Germany in the beginning of the 70s. In this paper, the sociologist and director of Spinnboden Sabine Balke Estremadoyro gives an overview of the archive. She illuminates the digitalization process of the library and asks if "a common data base (could) also be an opportunity for LGBTI archives in Europe to open our collections to a general public"?"
What do you think about the possibilities of data bases? Should we work toward creating international LGBTI- databases or cooperate with large mainstream data bases?
To read Sabine Balke Estremadoyro's full paper, click "read more". Enjoy, comment and share.
Spinnboden, the lesbian archive and library in Germany and
i.d.a. the umbrella organisation of German-language lesbian/women’s libraries, archives and documentation centers
"The history of all times, and particularly the history of the present, teaches us that whoever forgets her own story will be forgotten by history."
in: Frauen-Zeitung, Nr. 1 vom 21. April 1849, S. 1
In the context of the new women and homosexual movement in Germany at the beginning of the 70s, the women section of the HAW (Homosexual action in West Berlin) decided in June 1973 to found an archive with their records, letters and documents.
An important reason why the lesbian archives was founded in Berlin, was that at that time, history was seen only through men's eyes and lesbian culture was totally invisible.
At the end of the 70s, approximately 20 of the folders with records and letters of the meetings from the women section landed at the publish company were Gudrun Schwarz worked for the lesbian magazine LESBENPRESSE. She took the folders home to her apartment, where they were housed until 1995, when the archive moves to the “Weiberwirtschaft”, a woman economy place. In 1982 the association with the name Spinnboden was founded. The word Spinnboden means the attic floor of the house where the women in the Middle Ages used to tell each other stories while they were spinning the wool.
Now we have one of the largest collections of materials and documents from lesbian existence in Europe. We have approximately 14.000 documents, books and periodicals. Starting with the “Skorpion”, the first lesbian novel from A. E. Weihrauch in 1919, to the documents from the lesbian action centre LAZ (Lesbisches Actions Zentrum) from the 70s.
We have 1.500 films with homosexual content. For example, we have more than 20 hour’s material of the discussion about same sex marriage in 2000. (Lebenspartnerschaftgesetz) Our collection of periodical and magazines has about 1000 different covers from all over the world. One of our greatest collections is the magazine “Liebende Frauen” (Loving women), from 1926 to 1931. The magazine was an important document about the lesbian culture during the period of Weimar with his exciting lesbian clubs and nightlife.
Important documents from the Spinnboden collection
All our materials are now searchable through our online catalogue.
The archive uses the FAUST database which allows data exchange with other women’s and lesbian archives.
Since 1994 German, Austrian, Swiss and Italian organisations have joined the umbrella organisation of German-language lesbian/women's libraries, archives and documentation centres. The Spinnboden is a member of ida.
At the moment there are about 36 institutions associated in the umbrella organization.
The goals are networking, regular professional and personal exchange of knowledge and ideas, further education as well as the development of joint public relations.
We have annual meetings to discuss our problems and to learn from each other.
ida is especially engaged in gaining financial and political support for its member organisations.
Actually we are working to get financing from the government to create a lesbian and women’s history Website. The Website includes a common data base with the stocks from all ida organisations.
These common data base allows us for the first time to show a general public the great diversity of the complete collections from the members of ida.
The concentration of each data base in one common data base is also a requirement to get in national and international Web catalogues like europeana, the professional knowledge-sharing platform.
I want to discus the question, if such a common data base also be an opportunity for LGBTI archives in Europe to open our collections to a general public?