Stonewall at 50: How it Played out in Newspapers

This is a guest post from Amber Paranick, who does great work over at the Headlines & Heroes Blog, which chronicles the Library’s vast collection of newspapers and comics. Here, she looks at how one of the seminal moments in gay rights — the Stonewall Rebellion, which took place 50 years ago today — was portrayed in newspapers at the time.

The Stonewall uprising was a series of six-day protests that began in the early morning of June 28, 1969, and centered around the Stonewall Inn, a gay tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village on Christopher Street. This particular event (also called the Stonewall rebellion or Stonewall riots), represents a turning point in the movement for LGBTQ rights. Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970, marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall uprising with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park.

The Stonewall uprising was widely covered in the underground press or alternative newspapers such as Village Voice (New York, NY), Rat Subterranean News (New York, NY), East Village Other (New York, NY), The Berkeley Barb (Berkeley, CA), The Los Angeles Free Press (Los Angeles, CA), Quicksilver Times (Washington, DC), and Great Speckled Bird (Atlanta, GA). Underground press publications started during the radical movements of the 1960s and these papers often played an important role in the U.S. media landscape by covering stories and topics that were underreported by their mainstream counterparts. The Library of Congress has an Underground Newspaper Collection on microfilm that includes several hundred newspaper titles that thrived in the 1960s and early 1970s, most of which are concerned with themes or subjects of particular reference to the era.

“Thousands of Homosexuals Hold a Protest Rally in Central Park,” New York Times, June 29, 1970

As we celebrate Pride Month at the Library of Congress, we invite you to visit the Library of Congress and have a look at our myriad newspaper collections to find other articles that commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.

Discover more:

  • Search and browse issues of the Washington Blade, Washington, D.C.’s principal lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) newspaper through DigDC, a portal to selected digital collections from DC Public Library Special Collections.
  • An open-access digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines, and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries is available on the Independent Voices website.

“STONEWALL INCIDENT,” East Village Other, July 9, 1969

“GAYS HIT NY COPS,” Berkeley Barb, July 4-10, 1969. Source: Independent Voices digital collection.

3 Comments

  1. CATHERINE H MICHAEL
    July 1, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Thank you! Is there any plans to digitize the Underground Newspaper Collection? I was unaware of it — sounds fantastic.

  2. Neely Tucker
    July 1, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    Researching this for you now! Will post as soon as I get details.

    Best,
    Neely

  3. Neely Tucker
    July 3, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Hi Catherine,

    Here we go…

    Short answer: No plans to digitize at present.

    Slightly longer answer, from our staff that does such things: We prioritize digitization of material that is clearly in the public domain, due to possible copyright restrictions and our limited budget for researhing copyright status (registration and renewal if published before 1978). If stories/articles were published after 1978, it is likely under copyright and we prefer to avoid licensing rights from current copyright holders. If it was published before then, considerations are determined by the availability of the material and the cost of digitization.

    Thanks again for writing,
    Neely

    So,

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