Police protection for gay & lesbian culture ....

ell, 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 and aids.

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 at:

Homodok-Lesbisch Archief Amsterdam
Niewpoortkade 2a,
1055 RX Amsterdam,

E-Mail: info (at) homodok-laa.nl

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© 2001 Colin de la Motte-Sherman