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An beginner's guide to researching heterosexism using resources available in the University of Oregon Knight Library.

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are original documents and objects created at the time under study; secondary sources are accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience. Many primary sources are unique and can only be found in one library or manuscript collection in the world. While some primary sources have been copied onto microfilm, reissued, translated, or published digitally, the vast majority are available only in their original, hard-copy form. Your best source may not be available digitally - you may have to visit the library to see the source in person!
Some examples of primary sources include:
  • Books, magazine and newspaper articles published at the time
  • Hand-written documents like diaries and journals
  • Maps
  • Laws & court cases
  • Speeches, interviews, letters
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Literary manuscripts
  • Records of government agencies
  • Records of organizations
  • Research data
  • Artifacts of all kinds: physical objects, furniture, tools, clothing, etc.
  • Photographs, audio recordings, movies and videos
  • Art, including paintings, prints and other media

Determining what is, and isn't, a primary source can sometimes be tricky. Library staff are always available to help! The Finding Primary Sources guide at the bottom of this page is also an indispensable and helpful guide to finding primary source materials, both at the University of Oregon and beyond.

Select LGBTQIA Collections in Special Collections and University Archives

Collections of organizations:

Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) records, 1993-1997: During the 1990s, a group of activists formed a political action committee called Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) to fight against legislative measures in Oregon aimed at limiting gay and lesbian civil rights. The collection contains records from several state and local community organizations and is composed primarily of general administrative, campaign, and financial records, correspondence, newsletters and pamphlets, volunteer lists, audio and video tapes and reels, and artifacts.

Feminist and lesbian periodical collection, 1932-1997: The Feminist and Lesbian Periodical Collection contains 482 lesbian and feminist periodical titles including 36 Oregon titles and 31 international titles. Approximately 80 percent of the entire collection contains titles published during the 1970s. This collection does not duplicate circulating holdings in the UO Libraries for feminist and lesbian topics.

Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG) of Grants Pass, Oregon records, 1990s: The National Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG) organization was founded in 1972 by a mother of a gay son, and there are local chapters in every state. The collection contains the records of the Grants Pass, Oregon chapter.

Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG) of Ashland, Oregon records, 1990s: The National Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG) organization was founded in 1972 by a mother of a gay son, and there are local chapters in every state. The collection contains the records of the Grants Pass, Oregon chapter.

Right to Pride records, 1983-1998: Right to Pride is a political action committee and a non-profit organization "dedicated to ensuring full human and civil rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual Oregonians." The collection contains minutes and correspondence, fundraising and other financial records and reports, artifacts such as posters and buttons, candidate information, membership and supporter lists, and videos of events including Lucille Hart dinners and government sessions.

SO CLAP! (Southern Oregon Country Lesbian Archival Project) Collection, 1974-1999: SO CLAP! was a non-profit corporation established in 1989 to collect and preserve primary source material documenting the history of the lesbian and feminist back-to-the-land movement in southern Oregon. The collection contains correspondence, creative writings, autobiographical writings, financial records, publications, photographs, graphic materials, and ephemera.

WomanShare records, 1974-1999: WomanShare is a woman’s land and feminist retreat in Grants Pass, Oregon, established in 1974. Records document the management, membership, daily activities and workshops of the community and include correspondence, reference files, financial and meeting records, journals, audio, video and visual material.

Collections of individuals:

Beverly Brown papers, 1951-2005: Beverly Anne Brown (1951-2005) was an activist for social justice on behalf of rural workers, contingent laborers and other blue-collar workers, and gay and lesbian issues (with an emphasis on rural lesbian life). Brown was the founder and director of The Jefferson Center for Research and Education in Oregon from 1994–2004. This collection includes documents from Brown's early work as well as materials from her later years as the director of The Jefferson Center. Materials include: manuscripts, correspondence, journals, oral interviews, research materials, publications, audio and video, and photographs.

Sally Miller Gearhart papers, 1956-2015: Sally Miller Gearhart (April 15, 1931- ) is a scholar of speech, communication, and drama; a civil rights activist; and a writer of novels, short stories, and essays that deal with lesbianism, feminist rhetoric, homosexuality and religion, and gay rights. The collection includes correspondence, academic works, literary works, reviews of literary work, biographical information, photographs, audio/visual material, work by Jane Gurko, and artifacts.

Lee Lynch papers, 1960-2000: Lee Lynch (1945- ) is an award winning writer of lesbian fiction and non-fiction. The collection contains manuscripts, correspondence, calendars and journals, files cards, video, and research files.

Ruth Mountaingrove papers, 1950-1999: Ruth Mountaingrove (1923- ) is a feminist, lesbian, writer, publisher and photographer who lived and worked with many of the intentional communities of Southern Oregon. Mountaingrove has published poetry, articles, photographs and feminist/lesbian magazines. This collection contains correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, music, publishing material and photographs. The Photograph Series in particular captures a wide variety of subjects, moods and activities through ceremonies, rituals and daily life inside the intentional communities of Oregon and elsewhere.

More Ways to Find Primary Sources

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Music and Dance Librarian

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Ann Shaffer
Pronouns: she/her/hers

I will be on sabbatical from May 16-September 16, 2024. During that time, please contact with music or dance research questions, or drop in at the Douglass Room for research help at the music desk Monday-Friday 10 am-6 pm. If you need assistance related to room reservations or facilities in the Douglass Room, please contact Jimmy Murray at

I will be available for appointments again starting in Fall Term 2024.
Subjects: Dance, Music