Córdova, Jeanne Papers and Photographs

Span Dates: 1948-2011
Bulk Dates:
Volume: 32.4 linear ft.


The Jeanne Córdova papers and photographs comprise scrapbooks, photographs, diaries, organizational records, correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, posters, memorabilia, computer files, audiotapes and other materials documenting organizations and publications which Córdova founded; her leadership in the gay and lesbian and feminist activist movements from the 1970s through the 1990s; her published and unpublished books, articles and essays; her education and experience in a convent; and her relationships with family, friends and former lovers. The collection is divided into eight series: (1) Publishing, (2) Activism and Politics, (3) Writings, (4) Personal Papers, (5) Scrapbooks and Photographs, (6) Posters, (7) Memorabilia and (8) Sound Recordings, Video Recordings, and Computer Files. The Publishing Series consists of organizational records from three of the five publications Córdova founded: The Lesbian Tide (1971,) Community Yellow Pages (1981) and Square Peg (1992.) The Activism and Politics Series comprises correspondence, clippings, organizational records and other papers documenting Córdova's numerous activities in the gay and lesbian and feminist movements, including, but not limited to, organizing national lesbian conferences, serving on the boards of several organizations, and political campaigning. The Writings Series comprises manuscripts, notes, clippings and correspondence related to Córdova's published and unpublished works, including two unpublished memoirs, The Apostles and Anicha . The Personal Papers Series consists of diaries, correspondence, date books, student papers, real estate records, financial records and other papers documenting Córdova's life from her time in a convent (1966-1967,) to her health complications, to her relationships with her family, friends and former lovers. The Scrapbooks and Photographs Series consists of material collected throughout Córdova's life, including her childhood in Germany (1948-1954.) The Posters Series includes a poster for "An Evening of Women's Music with Cris Williamson, Margie Adam, Meg Christian, Holly Near," and posters for Robin Tyler and Jill Johnston. The Memorabilia Series comprises buttons, t-shirts and other material from Córdova's activities in politics and the gay and lesbian movement. The final Sound Recordings, Video Recordings, and Computer Files Series comprises audiocassettes, videocassettes (VHS), and floppy disks (5 1/4 in.) containing manuscripts, personal diary entries, and other writings.

Hist/Bio Note

Jeanne Robert Córdova was born on July 18, 1948 in Bremerhaven, Germany. Daughter of Federico Benito and Joan McGuinness, Jeanne is one of twelve siblings. In the 1950s, the family immigrated to New York and eventually relocated to Southern California. As a child, she attended Catholic school in West Covina and, in 1966, entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent in Santa Barbara, California. While she was a postulant, she began questioning her sexuality and subsequently became dissatisfied with the Catholic Church. She left the convent a year later, going on to earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees in social work from the University of California, at Los Angeles (UCLA.)In 1970, Córdova began her activist career by joining and, soon after, becoming President of the Los Angeles chapter of the lesbian rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). In 1971, the DOB newsletter, which Córdova edited, evolved into The Lesbian Tide, the first of five publications she founded. Throughout the 1970s to the 1990s, she was a key organizer or active participant in several events and organizations, including the 1971 West Coast Lesbian Conference; the 1973 National Lesbian Conference at UCLA; the 1977 International Women's Year Conference in Houston, Texas; the 1978 National Lesbian Feminist Organization Conference; a national gay and lesbian caucus at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, in which she served as a convention delegate; the No on California Proposition 64 (LaRouche) campaign in 1986; and numerous other gay and lesbian and women's rights causes. In addition, she founded or served on the board of several organizations, including the Stonewall Democratic Club, Connexxus Women's Business Alliance, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Press Association, Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, and ONE Institute and International Gay & Lesbian Archives. Córdova also has an extensive writing and publishing career. In addition to her work with The Lesbian Tide, she was also Human Rights Editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Free Press (1973 - 1976). She contributed works to numerous periodicals and anthologies, and in 1976, she wrote her first book, Sexism: It's a Nasty Affair . In 1981, she founded the Community Yellow Pages, which would eventually become the United States' largest and most comprehensive LGBT directory. In 1990, her second book was published, Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story, an autobiography recounting her experience in the convent. In addition to Community Yellow Pages, she founded and published Square Peg Magazine in 1992, a magazine devoted to queer culture and literature. In August 1995, Córdova married her partner, Lynn Harris Ballen, in a wedding ceremony in the Hollywood Hills. After selling Community Yellow Pages, Córdova and Ballen moved to Mexico in 1999. In 2007, they returned to Southern California. Jeanne Córdova remains active in the gay and lesbian and Chicana/Latina movements. In 2008, she founded LEX, The Lesbian Exploratorium, a non-profit organization devoted to culture and history. In 2011, her memoir, When We Were Outlaws, was published by Spinsters Inc. As of 2015, Córdova continues to live with Ballen at their home in Los Angeles, California

Finding Aid

An excellent finding aid is available online. A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available through the "LGBT Thought and Culture" collection of Alexander Street Press at the following link (login required): http://search.alexanderstreet.com/gltc/browse/archive-collection


This collection is located at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California ONE Gallery, West Hollywood 626 North Robertson Boulevard West Hollywood, CA 90069


California | Catholic (Roman) | Feminism | Gay Liberation Movement