not quite ... Dutch lesbians and gays have taken over a former police
headquarters in Amsterdam's red-light district to house their archives.
Homodok (short for Documentation Centre for Gay and Lesbian Studies)
is based at Oudezijds Voorburgwal in the district south-east of
Amsterdam's Central Railway Station It was there that the police
used to bring people they had picked up during raids on gay bars
in the past.
Homodok was founded in 1979 as a result of the meetings to discuss
the possibility of setting up lesbian/gay studies at the University
of Amsterdam. Besides groups for editing the magazine "Homologie"
and organising discussions and readings, a small group started a
documentation project. The problems were, as was to be expected,
money and a room where to continue the vital work of documentation
and to start building up a collection of magazines. The University
of Amsterdam made space available and later on helped to finance
the centre by a small annual grant. Although linked to Amsterdam
University Homodok is a foundation which is independent of the whims
of academics. Three staff members are paid, the other 10 staff members
are unpaid voluntary workers.
From the outset the centre has had its own documentary and bibliographical
column ('Relevant') in the Dutch scholarly and cultural magazine
Homologie. The centre is not a lending, but a research library.
The purpose is to provide access to information about scholarly
and cultural publications concerning homosexuality. Therefore any
interested person can use the alphabetical and subject indexes (the
latter is based on keywords).which are both kept on computer database.
Special attention is paid to the documentation of articles in Dutch
and foreign periodicals, newspapers and other publications on subjects
connected with homosexuality. Users can also consult the bibliographies,
reference books, theses and student research papers, pamphlets,
and annual reports the centre has collected over the years.
Homodok has charge of the "Van Leeuwen Bibliotheek",
the historic library of the COC (Dutch Lesbian and Gay Association).
This library consists of books, magazines and newspaper-cuttings
up to 1970.
Basically Homodok collects all kinds of materials that provide
information about the cultural, historical, social and political
contexts of gay and lesbian existence. Anyone visiting the centre
will not only find resources relevant to the political and social
history of homosexualities, but also publications aabout gay and
lesbian culture (film, theatre, music, art and literature, artist
and writers biographies) and the cultural politics of homosexuality
The whole collection has been made accessible by means of an alphabetical
author and subject catalogue. One of the objectives of Homodok is
to bring together the most comprehensive collection in Europe of
lesbian/gay periodicals from all over the world. Information is
also provided on most important research about homosexuality being
undertaken in the Netherlands.
Colin de la Motte-Sherman
Since this was written Homodok has moved to new premises
Homodok-Lesbisch Archief Amsterdam
1055 RX Amsterdam,
E-Mail: info (at) homodok-laa.nl