About the Dworin Collection

Words like strange, perverse, forbidden and queer cling to the paratext of many of the works housed in the Ruth Dworin Collection. Through this exhibit, we hope to provide you with a window into a collection that contains many classic, forgotten and often-censored works of lesbian fiction from the early to late 20th century.

The collection consists of over 800 items acquired from Ruth Dworin, a Toronto women’s activist and owner of women’s music production company Womanly Way Productions.  An associate of York University’s Canadian Women’s Studies journal office, Dworin began collecting in the early 1970s.  The collection was acquired by the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections in 2005.

The scope of the collection encompasses fiction, graphic novels and critical studies of lesbianism, published between 1904 and 1998. Over 400 of these titles are considered pulp fiction paperbacks, books known for their explicit lesbian themes and provocative cover art.

In addition to her book collection, Dworin also donated her personal papers that document her activities as a music promoter, queer activist, community organizer and business manager. A finding aid to these materials can be accessed in the archives reading room.

This collection may prove of research interest for faculty and students studying popular culture, women’s studies, sexual diversity studies, and book history. A full listing of the Dworin collection can be found here.



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