Library of Congress acquires films, papers of gay rights pioneer Vincenz who protested in 1965

  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 3:35 PM

WASHINGTON — The Library of Congress has acquired the papers, photographs, films and memorabilia of gay rights pioneer Lilli Vincenz, the nation's largest library announced Thursday.

Vincenz joined the first gay rights protest in front of the White House in 1965 with group leader Frank Kameny and about 10 others, and she marched in annual July 4th demonstrations in Philadelphia.

Vincenz's collection includes 10,000 items, the library said. It includes two rare 16-mm films Vincenz made of an early gay rights protest in Philadelphia and the first gay pride parade in New York City in 1970, one year after the Stonewall Riots. Her footage has appeared in other films and documentaries about the history of the gay rights movement.

A longtime resident of the capital suburb of Arlington, Va., Vincenz was one of the first lesbian members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, a gay rights organization. She was the first editor of its newsletter, The Homosexual Citizen.

Born in 1937 in Hamburg, Germany, Vincenz immigrated to the United States and attended college before serving in the U.S. Army. She was honorably discharged because of her sexual orientation. That's when she contacted Kameny, who had been fired from his job as a government astronomer because he was gay. Vincenz went on to earn a Ph.D. in psychology.

She and her spouse, Nancy Ruth Davis, were married in Key West, Fla., in 1986. Together, the two founded the Empowerment Group for People Living with AIDS in Arlington, Va., in the 1980s and later the Community for Creative Self-Development, which hosts forums and workshops.

The collection will join the library's Manuscript Division. Its holdings include more than 11,500 collections that document U.S. history from colonial times to present day. Kameny's papers also were donated to the library in 2006.

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