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Gay and Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection

Call Number



1955-1988, inclusive


Bolerium Books


66 Linear Feet in 44 boxes

Language of Materials

Materials are in English


Pulp magazines, often known as "pulp fiction," were commonly used to publish and distribute genre fiction in the first half of the 20th century. This collection contains over 1000 volumes of gay and lesbian erotica published in pulp magazines between 1955 and 1988. Many of these novels were published pseudonymously to evade anti-vice Comstock Laws.

Historical Note

In the late 19th century pulp magazines, booklets created with wood pulp paper, rose to prominence in the United States as an inexpensive way to print and distribute written works. Pulp magazines, also referred to as "pulp fiction," were often works of genre fiction and were known for sensational and lurid storylines. Pulp magazines were popular throughout the first half of the 20th century, and by the 1940s and 1950s many pulp publications were dedicated to gay and lesbian erotica. These stories were often written pseudonymously and the publishers used false names and addresses to evade the anti-vice Comstock laws which prohibited using the U.S. Postal Service to distribute anything sexual in nature or "obscene."

Into the 1960s and 1970s pulp magazines were replaced with other formats such as paperback books and digest-style magazines. During the same time many anti-obscenity laws were contested in the judicial system and heard by the United States Supreme Court. In the 1958 case One, Inc. v. Olesen, the Court ruled that "pro-homosexual writing" was protected free speech. Roth v. United States and Albers v. California were heard concurrently in 1957 and the Supreme Court narrowed the definition for obscenity but still held that obscenity was not protected free speech. In the 1966 case Memoirs v. Massachusetts the Court affirmed that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment but again narrowed the definition of what qualified as obscene. The Court heard Miller v. California in 1973 and found that no government body could "adequately distinguish obscene material unprotected by the First Amendment from protected expression," which fully protected the publication and distribution of erotic fiction as free speech. The culmination of these cases made it possible for gay and lesbian erotica to be published and distributed freely.


Arrangement: Books are arranged in rough alphabetical order by the publisher's series name and then by title.

Scope and Content Note

The Gay and Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection spans four decades (1950s-1980s), and includes the works of several prominent gay and lesbian writers including Ann Bannon (The Marriage, 1960), Phil Andros (The Greek Way, 1972), and Jane Rule (Against The Season, 1975). Pulp fiction included in this collection was produced by many publishers, including but not limited to Avon, Bantam, Bathhouse, Blueboy, Eros Goldstripe, Gay Parisian Press, Greenleaf, Lambda, Phenix, Spade Classics, Star Distributors, Surrey, and Traveler's Companion..

All materials in this collection are sexually explicit by nature. Some stories may contain harmful language and depictions of sexual exploitation or sexual violence.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Use Restrictions

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); The Gay and Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection; MSS 116; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.

Location of Materials

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.


This collection was purchased from Bolerium Books, San Francisco in August 2001. The accession number associated with this acquisition is 2001.116.

Related Material at the Fales Library and Special Collections

Levy Dime Novel Collectiom (MSS.028)

Collection processed by

Collection processed by Theresa Smalec; revised finding aid written by Anna Björnsson McCormick

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:04:17 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Processing Information

A finding aid for this collection was originally published in 2007. In 2022 an archivist made significant edits to the finding aid to remove laudatory language and more accurately reflect the contents of the collection.

Researchers can access previous versions of the finding aid in our GitHub repository at

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from Intro to finding aid.doc


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012