Collection Info

Dignity/USA

Span Dates: 1956-2002

Bulk Dates: 1971-1988

Volume: 47.8 linear feet

Description

This collection documents Dignity/USA, its predecessor organizations,and the regions and chapters from the organization’s founding in 1969 until the early 1990s. Its records also document Dignity’s day-to-day operations, its efforts to obtain validation for gays and lesbians from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and its relations with similar groups from other denominations and secular gay rights groups. Records of the national office include correspondence, minutes, documents of the Board of Directors and Board of Consultors (later renamed House of Delegates), and subject files. The online finding aid provides a thorough and scholarly description of the collection. There are 33 additional items, including local chapter Dignity newsletters and audiotapes of the Dignity executive and full board meetings and conferences for Dignity/Los Angeles, Dignity/Madison, Dignity/Minneapolis, and Dignity/International. Included is a keynote speech by John McNeill entitled "Dignity: the Past and Future."

Hist/Bio Note

Dignity/USA began in 1969 when Catholic psychologist Father Patrick Nidorf recognized a need for counselling of gay and lesbian Catholics. Closed meetings wer held in San Diego and Los Angeles out of which Dignity was formed in 1970. The first annual meeting was held in 1972 when there were 198 paid members from seven countries. Joe Gilgamesh, President, visited New York, Washington D.C., Louisville, Boston, and Chicago to assist in the formation of Dignity chapters. The organization grew rapidly, joining in political campaigns as well as spiritual counselling. Beginning under the auspices of the Catholic Church, the activist stance of Dignity led to its censure and eviction from Catholic properties. A key leader, Father John McNeill was censured, silenced, and eventually excommunicated for speaking at a Dignity convention in 1985. A detailed timeline is posted at the following Dignity website.
http://www.dignityusa.org/node/433

Finding Aid

A finding aid to this collection can be found online.
http://www.onearchives.org/uploads/collections/2007-004_dignity.pdf

Location

This collection is available for research at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The audiotapes are also available by contacting the staff.
http://www.onearchives.org

Index Terms

DignityMcNeill, John J.CatholicCaliforniaGay liberation movement -- Religious aspectsGays -- Religious LifeGays -- United States -- History -- 20th Century -- SourcesHomosexuality -- History -- 20th centuryLesbians -- Religious lifeLesbians -- United States -- History -- 20th CenturyHomosexuality -- Religious aspects -- Christianity