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Often referred to as San Francisco's "queer Smithsonian," the GLBT Historical Society houses one of the world's largest collections of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender historical materials. The society's GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States.

Sponsorships: Museum sponsorship provides essential support to one the GLBT community’s most significant cultural institutions — and offers visibility and other benefits to sponsors. For full details, click here.

Membership & Donations: To become a member or make a donation, click here.

To read about the three main challenges currently facing the organization, including the search for a new home for our archives, the need to renew the lease for the GLBT History Museum, and our efforts to satisfy exploding interest in GLBT history, click here.

Monday, Wednesday– Saturday:
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.

4127 18th St. • San Francisco


Matlovich Time Cover

Out of the Boxes and onto the Net!

We're digitizing our amazing audiovisual collections and putting them on the Internet for you to enjoy. Check out our first offering, the entire run of the 1980s radio series The Gay Life. Click here.GayBackMachine


Sponsors of the GLBT History Museum
City & County of San Francisco: Grants for the Arts

Presenting Sponsor
Bob Ross Foundation • City and County of San Francisco: Grants for the Arts • Council on Library and Information Resources • National Historical Publications and Records Commission • Steven Speier, in memory of David Thormann • Walgreens • Andreas Weigend

Platinum Sponsors
David R. Kessler, M.D. • Levi Strauss • Wells Fargo

Gold Sponsors
AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah Insurance Exchange • Badlands and Toad Hall • Al Baum and Robert Holgate • Beaux Bar and the Midnight Sun • John Bell and Jason Spicer • Harvey’s Restaurant • Tomlinson Holman • Human Rights Campaign • Chris Lewis and Todd Reasinger • Emily Rosenberg and Darlene de Manincor • Rick Stokes and Alex Kiforenko

Silver Sponsors
Bank of the West • Troy Barber and Dan Stewart • Tom Burtch and Neil Austen•Colla Voce • Community Thrift Store • Elisabeth Cornu • Peter Lundberg and James Mowdy • James Neale•Alfredo Perdroza•See’s Candies•Sterling Art Services • Brian Turner • Whole Foods

John Alecca • Nancy Andrews • Gary Booher • Paul Christensen • Gray Clossman • Community Safety Foundation • Diana Coopersmith • Robert Croonquist • William Dickey • Mark Dimunation • Robert Dockendorff • Calvin Doucet • Andrew Ferguson • Gary Gansle • Kevin Gerber • Jerome Goldstein • Tim Gullicksen • Eric Hallquist • Peter Hirsh and Michael Bakish • James Hormel and Michael Nguyen • John Howard • Mario Hubert • Jack Lasner • Jason Macario • Paul Margolis • Todd Martin • Michael Moniz • Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong • Trenton Norris • William Patterson • Ken Prag • Merle Rabine • Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence • Rainbow Grocery Cooperative • Kerry Romesburg and Judy Romesburg • SF Gay Men’s Chorus • Gustavo Torres • Underglass Custom Framing • Burlington Willes • Jay Williams • Anders Winther and David Pike • Sondra Zambino

Donate to the GLBT Historical Society

Current Newsletter

Showing at the
GLBT History Museum

Queer Past

Main Gallery: Queer Past Becomes Present.

Front Gallery and Community Gallery: 30 Years of Collecting Art That Tells Our Stories.[NOTE: EXPLICIT CONTENT]

Other Current and Upcoming
Events and Programs

Frameline39 documentaries draw on LGBT archives

Various dates and locations

This month, the GLBT Historical Society will co-present two documentaries at Frameline39: the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, both of which illuminate the importance of archives in preserving and revealing queer history.

Photo of Willie Walker by Daniel Nicoletta

Reel in the Closet brings to light a trove of historical footage of LGBTQ life in America, from the 1930s through the AIDS epidemic, much of which is being shown for the first time at this world premiere. Documentarian Stu Maddux intersperses this footage with interviews with the archivists who work to find, preserve, and catalogue such early film and video records of queer life before they are lost to history -- including our own archivists. Moving images of queer life “wait to be discovered in people’s closets but are being thrown out -- sometimes on purpose,” Maddux notes. Get details and tickets here

Photo of Willie Walker by Daniel Nicoletta

In Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson, director Michelle Boyaner follows the efforts of Jane Anderson, a lesbian and Emmy-winning writer and director, to retrace the story of her great aunt Edith, who in 1924 was torn from her successful painting career and long-time partner Fannie and committed to an insane asylum. Get details and tickets here.

Wells Fargo sponsors museum admission

June 18 to 28

Students will be admitted FREE to the GLBT History Museum on Sunday during the entire run of the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, courtesy of Wells Fargo. Celebrate queer pride month with a visit to queer history!

Que(e)ry, a party benefiting the GLBT Historical Society

Sunday, June 28, 8 p.m.-closing, The Make Out Room,  3225 22nd Street, San Francisco

The American Library Association is in town for its annual conference, and the Que(e)ry Librarians group is throwing a party for queer librarians and those who love them, featuring DJ Workalook (fka Rapid Fire), DJ Chelsea Starr, DJ Marc Records. All proceeds benefit the GLBT Historical Society. Tickets $10 at the door. Can't attend? Sponsor a ticket!

Our 30th Anniversary

So many stories to tell

by Linnea Due

In 1985, branding was not exactly a buzzword—unless you owned a cattle ranch. Still, the founders of the GLBT Historical Society realized that priceless items that told queer history were lost every day through the AIDS crisis. Willie Walker and others mounted a campaign to underscore the importance of saving papers, photographs, and periodicals.

Photo of Willie Walker by Daniel Nicoletta

The task was harder than it may seem. Consider: in those years, many people were in the closet. Lovers and friends swooped into apartments and destroyed “the evidence.” Grieving parents did the same. Even those who were proudly out might not realize the importance of saving newspapers, magazines, and letters.

The Historical Society needed to educate the public, and humor is often the best communicator. Slogans like “Have We Got a Story to Tell!” and “Now that You’re Out of the Closet, What Else Is in There?” got the message across without a lecture or an admonition. Slogans were printed on buttons, brochures, and advertisements. And material started flowing in—periodicals at first, and later letters, diaries, photographs, and artwork. (An exhibition of three decades of paintings, drawings, and three-dimensional objects is now on view at the GLBT History Museum.)

Now, as pioneers of gay liberation in the ‘50s and ‘60s grow gray, the GLBT Historical Society underscores the importance of gathering oral histories. Similarly, if those early messages hadn’t gotten across, we would have lost more, compounding the tragedy of AIDS.

Bay Area native Linnea Due is an award-winning writer and editor.

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Exhibitions & Programs
GLBT History Museum

4127 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
Phone: (415) 621-1107

Archives, Reading Room &
Administrative Offices

GLBT Historical Society
657 Mission St., Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 777-5455
Fax: (415) 777-5576

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society collects, preserves, and interprets the history of GLBT people and the communities that support them. We sponsor exhibitions and programs on an ongoing basis.