A Woman to Know: Mabel Hampton

I just had a ball. — Mabel Hampton

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

Mabel hoarded -- everything. She collected scraps of paper from her life in the New York black lesbian scene: old flyers from LGBT marches, pages from lesbian pulp novels, protest signs, letters, gay community newspapers and more. Friends teased her for the massive collection, but in 1978, Mabel's obsessive hoarding became the foundation of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. In the early days of the Archives, Mabel and four friends assembled teams of avid volunteers to sort through the pieces of her rich, rich life.

As one former volunteer remembered, "Many women came to volunteer nights just to hear Mabel tell her tales of drag balls in Harlem and her version of the wild parties of the Harlem Renaissance."

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