Lyon, Phyllis, and Del Martin Papers

Span Dates: 1924-2000
Bulk Dates:
Volume: 70 linear ft.


This collection documents the joint and individual work lives of life-partners Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, from the Homophile movement of the 1950s to the end of the twentieth century. The collection is strongest in materials connected to Lyon and Martin's involvement with several major organizations, and for material from the 1960s and 1970s. The collection is divided into 20 series; subseries B: Homophile -- Bay Area, 1960-1974 contains extensive records from the Council on Religion and the Homosexual consisting of 2 boxes and 15 folders These records complement those in the Don Lucas Collection (see Lucas listing).

Hist/Bio Note

Phyllis Ann Lyon was born November 10, 1924, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and raised primarily in Northern California. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 1946. Lyon served as a reporter and on the editorial staff at two building trades magazines in Seattle. After returning to San Francisco in 1953 she worked at Glide Urban Center and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality from 1976-1987. Lyon has lectured and written extensively on human sexuality, censorship, and the Lesbian and Feminist Movements. Del Martin was born Dorothy L. Taliaferro in 1921 and studied journalism at San Francisco State College. Married for four years, she divorced and raised her daughter Kendra Mon, becoming a leader in the domestic violence movement. She is the author of Battered Wives (1976, updated 1981) and numerous other articles and book chapters on the subject. Lyon and Martin met in Seattle, Washington in the early 1950s, while they were both working for building trades publications. They were platonic friends for two years before becoming romantically involved. They returned to San Francisco together in 1953 and were part of a group of eight lesbians that founded the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). The DOB was the first national lesbian organization/support network. Martin served as president from 1957-60 and Lyon was president in 1962 and active on the editorial staff. Together Lyon and Martin were among the founders of the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) in 1964. Besides their individual careers and recognitions, Lyon and Martin, have received numerous joint honors: in 1980, the Lyon-Martin Clinic in San Francisco was named after them, and they have served as Grand Marshals or special guests in Gay Pride marches across California and the country. They received the Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1990. For more biographical information, see the finding aid.

Finding Aid

A finding aid is available online.


The Lyon and Martin Papers are held in the GLBT Historical Society of Northern California (San Francisco, CA).


Lyon, Phyllis | Martin, Del | Council on Religion and the Homosexual | Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) | Author/editor | Feminism | Gay Liberation Movement | California | San Francisco