Dignity/USA Records

Span Dates: 1956-2002
Bulk Dates: 1971-1988
Volume: 47.8 linear feet


This collection documents Dignity/USA, its predecessor organizations,and the regions and chapters from the organization’s founding in 1969 with additional unprocessed records up to 2019. Its records also document Dignity’s day-to-day operations, its efforts to obtain validation for gays and lesbians from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and its relations with similar groups from other denominations and secular gay rights groups. Records of the national office include correspondence, minutes, documents of the Board of Directors and Board of Consultors (later renamed House of Delegates), and subject files. The online finding aid provides a thorough and scholarly description of the collection. There are 33 additional items, including local chapter Dignity newsletters and audiotapes of the Dignity executive and full board meetings and conferences for Dignity/Los Angeles, Dignity/Madison, Dignity/Minneapolis, and Dignity/International. Included is a keynote speech by John McNeill entitled "Dignity: the Past and Future."

Hist/Bio Note

Dignity/USA began in 1969 when Catholic psychologist Father Patrick Nidorf recognized a need for counselling of gay and lesbian Catholics. Closed meetings wer held in San Diego and Los Angeles out of which Dignity was formed in 1970. The first annual meeting was held in 1972 when there were 198 paid members from seven countries. Joe Gilgamesh, President, visited New York, Washington D.C., Louisville, Boston, and Chicago to assist in the formation of Dignity chapters. The organization grew rapidly, joining in political campaigns as well as spiritual counselling. Beginning under the auspices of the Catholic Church, the activist stance of Dignity led to its censure and eviction from Catholic properties. A key leader, Father John McNeill was censured, silenced, and eventually excommunicated for speaking at a Dignity convention in 1985. A detailed timeline is posted at the following Dignity website.

Finding Aid

A finding aid to this collection can be found online.


This collection is available for research at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The audiotapes are also available by contacting the staff.


Catholic (Roman) | McNeill, John J. | Dignity