Cataloging DINAH

A couple weeks ago, we finished cataloging Dinah.

Photograph of eight piles of a multi-colored newsletter sitting on a table, each with an index card indicating a date range between 1975 and 1997.

Dinah organized by date and ready to be cataloged.

I like to think of Dinah as one of the crown jewels of the Archives’ collection. The local lesbian newsletter ran from 1975 to 1997, an impressive feat considering nearly every issue had a call for help. Writing, compiling, publishing, printing, and distributing a work like Dinah was incredibly difficult on a shoestring budget with a volunteer staff who never had enough time. Dinah’s pages constantly asked readers for donations to afford paper to print the next issue, or repair the broken mimeograph machine or printer, or even contributions of the time and energy necessary to get copies in the mail.

But somehow, for over twenty years and 100 issues, Dinah survived. Cincinnati women wrote articles, short stories, poetry, and letters. They discussed the meanings of womanhood, lesbianism, race, family, sex, music, and literature. They planned events, meetings, and potlucks. They organized against discrimination and domestic violence, empowering each other on local and global political issues. They won the city league softball championship. They created community, and they recorded it all in the pages of Dinah.

Dinah is a unique and invaluable resource for researchers and community members interested in Cincinnati history, lesbian herstory, community-making, and feminist history. Because of the richness of the stories this newsletter tells, the OLA is committed to preserving it for future generations. The online catalog we are creating — figuring out exactly what we have and writing it all down so you know too — is part of this. Another step is making sure all materials are stored properly to slow down deterioration. For Dinah, that means putting the newsletter into acid-free, lignin-free, high-quality archival folders.

Photograph of metal file cabinet drawer pulled out to reveal 2.5 feet of a multi-colored newsletter placed neatly in manila folders.

Dinah replaced in her drawer in non-archival folders for temporary storage.

If you would like to volunteer your time to help us complete the catalog, or donate money for materials, you can contact us at You can help us make sure Dinah survives for many years to come!

online catalog

Nancy and I have been meeting weekly to input the hundreds of journals, magazines, and newsletters the Ohio Lesbian Archives has. Although detailed work, it is necessary to know our holdings.

We’re using Excel to keep it simple and share-able. For now, Nancy is entering the data and I am reading out Volume, Issue, Date, Publisher. I actually have the fun part for I get to glance at the cover and first pages. From time to time, I’ll exclaim, “Oh, look who was published in this early issue of Conditions.” Or, “Did you realize? X has a Cincinnati connection.” And the librarian in me still becomes excited when we discover a Volume 1, Issue 1.

This might sound boring to some of you (if you’ve even made it as far as this paragraph). But archives need to know what we have. And we want to know. We want to know what we’re spending time and resources on saving. I’d like to offer some issues to lesbian archives in other regions of the country, e.g., if we have a newsletter from Oklahoma, then it would be better placed in that state or a collection that covers the western region. We are using our space well in the church basement but we have boxes yet to unpack. Surprises to find, magazines to catalog.

If you live in the greater Cincinnati area, we are happy to involve you. Even an hour sporadically will help. Thanks,

Phebe for the Archives

25th Anniversary Celebration – Sat., Oct. 18th 7-9 pm

It’s hard to believe but the Ohio Lesbian Archives is officially 25 years old!

Back in spring of 1989, a handful of us began meeting regularly to collect and preserve the wonderful (and sometimes rare) materials we’d held on to. Vic and Phebe, the two co-directors, actually had talked about a Cincinnati Lesbian HERstorical Society years before without any other interested women coming forth at the time. Then we became one of the first groups to have an office at the Crazy Ladies Bookstore & Center after it opened (the owned building on the corner across from Hoffner Park). The Archives (OLA) remained at this Center until the building was sold.

We’ve been housed in Clifton United Methodist Church since summer 2006. This is where we’ll host our birthday party–complete with a cake! We will have an Open House – refreshments – readings – informational moments – refreshments – old friends & new — and did we say it was FREE? A celebration is just that — a gathering of like minded people (men and non-lgbtq’s invited) complete with refreshments and inspiration.

So stop by or spend the evening – 7:00-9:00 p.m. Saturday, October 18th. Come through the glass doors on Senator Place (Church is at corner of Clifton & Senator just north of the big Ludlow & Clifton intersection).

Holiday Open House ~ Saturday, Dec. 14th – CANCELLED!



Put our semi-annual Open House on your calendar now!

Please come & enjoy delicious refreshments, mingle with old friends (and new) at the Ohio Lesbian Archives, located in the basement of the Clifton United Methodist Church at Clifton & Senator Place, Cincinnati, OH 45220.

Jewelry Sale:  Rainbow & Goddess – All proceeds donated to OLA.

We will raffle off prizes & have duplicate books & VHS tapes (remember those?) to give away.

PLEASE NOTE:  Vic is turning 60 & instead of a big party she would like her friends to donate to OLA & come enjoy several delicious homemade birthday cakes (she is a great cook!). See you there!

We will be open between 11 am – 3 pm

(Another) Open House – Happy Pride!

Please stop by & see what we’ve been collecting, have some refreshments, say hello. Our upcoming Open House will kick off LGBT Pride here in Cincinnati. From 12-2 on Saturday, June 22nd, our little reference library in the basement of Clifton United Methodist Church will be open (usually you need to make a request to visit).

Victoria, our summer intern Annabelle, and I would love to see you and answer any questions.  If you’re a lesbian mother, she’d be interested in talking to you for her project for Women’s Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Also, we discovered we have lots of duplicate copies of some novels, so we’re GIVING BOOKS AWAY! Know that this is highly unusual for an archives. It is only because they are duplicates that we can do this. Our small space also demands it.

NOTE:   we have a new email: (We are no longer using the old yahoo account). 

Open House ~ Saturday, Dec. 8th

Curious about the Ohio Lesbian Archives and all we collect?

We are having our annual Open House on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 from 1-4. Please join us for conversation, refreshments, and adventure in all things archival. Vic, X-a, and Phebe will be there to greet you and show off our collection. Although OLA is a reference library, we do have a gratis lending shelf of duplicate copies, magazines, and videos that you can borrow. Victoria will have rainbow and goddess jewelry for sale for holiday gifts; these are handmade creatively by her and will sell for great prices.

Besides the hundreds of books by and about lesbians, we have magazines, fliers, photographs, LPs, cds, dvds, and even the old DINAH softball team trophy. We have files on Ohio & Kentucky organizations and old Crazy Ladies files. Many of our visitors have been students doing papers on the 1970s. But we also have had–and invite–those who wish to come visit out of curiosity. We believe you will leave feeling empowered!

Maybe you haven’t seen or even thought of the Archives since our old Crazy Ladies days. We used to be on the third floor above Crazy Ladies Bookstore in Northside (Cincinnati neighborhood). When the Center was sold, we moved to a basement office of Clifton United Methodist Church at the corner of Clifton & Senator Place (in the Clifton neighborhood near the University of Cincinnati).  You will need to enter the glass door entrance on Senator. From the front door, you can see our window–first one to the left–that’s right, the one with the rainbow clock. Make a face and/or tap gently on our basement window or call Phebe’s cell phone at 513-256-7695 and someone will come unlock the door to let you in (for safety, the Church requires the door to be locked).

We hope to see you at the Open House!

You may also reply here at this blog or email OLA at

Coffeehouse coming up ~ Saturday, October 20th, 2012

It’s been awhile, we know. No excuses ….

We’re back to let you know we’ll be having a semi-annual fundraising event in the form of a COFFEEHOUSE. It will be held the evening of Saturday, October 20, 2012 in the basement recreation area of our home at Clifton United Methodist Church.

We have some great musicians lined up but can still use a comic and emcee.

If you are interested in performing or know of talent we should include, please email us at

We’ll be collating and sending out our newsletter this week. Watch for all the news.