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Access and Use

Our Collections

RHP’s collection contains materials acquired as part of its mission to "collect, preserve, and promote an active knowledge of the history, arts, and culture of metropolitan Washington, D.C.’s diverse LGBTQ+ communities." We invite everyone with an interest in LGBTQ history to use our collections. Our users include students, academics, journalists, and members of the community. Any one interested is considered "a researcher" and ALL People are welcome.

Rainbow History Project collects documents, letters, newspapers & magazines, posters, and other records as well as recordings--radio, film, television, music, and oral histories--and even certain artifacts. We collect from local groups, organizations, or residents of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. If you have historical items to donate to the archives, please get in touch and fill out our donation form.


Archives online

RHP has digitized some of our materials and makes them available through various portals.

  • The Archives Catalog. Contains records for ALL RHP collections, hundreds of digitized files, and links to digitized recordings. This is the first place you should search for information on our holdings. Access and use guidelines are described in each record.
  • RHP YouTube channelContains digitized recordings of historical news footage, films, and public events--including our Public Panels.
  • RHP Internet Archive channel. Contains primarily sound recordings (historic radio and other audio-only files), also certain films and other copyrighted recordings.
  • RHP Google Drive. Contains files that have been digitized but cannot be placed online for reasons such as restrictions placed by donors (e.g. oral history interviews), or photographs (files are too large/costly to host in other platforms). These require access requests to info@rainbowhistory.org
  • Places and Spaces social geography data base. This map documents places and spaces important to the D.C.-area LGBT community and includes basic data known about the location. It is a work in progress and additions from the public are always welcome.
  • RHP Exhibits  These are online presentations of research projects that tell stories of LGBTQ Washington's history. It is hosted within the Archives Catalog. We welcome new exhibitions and research projects created by anyone.
Physical Archives

In 2008 RHP formed a pivotal partnership with the DC History Center (formerly-called The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.) to make it the "home" of the RHP Archive. Since then, paper records, and certain artifacts, are stored and made accessible to researchers, by appointment, at the DC History Center. Researchers should contact the DC History Center to use the physical collections. "Researchers" are ALL People interested in using the collections. Contact DC History Center to make arrangements for onsite research.

RHP collections are organized by provenance--the donor who provided the materials. The contents of most collections are described in a "finding aid" which describes the collection, its origins, and the contents of it. A finding aid helps to navigate a collection in the same way that a table of contents and an index help to navigate a book. Most finding aids include the titles of the folders, and not descriptions of a folders contents.

Information on our collections, with links to finding aids can be found in various places--usually duplicating the same information:

  • All collections are described in the RHP Archives Catalog, including links to finding aids.
  • Collections are also described in the DC History Center catalog, or through their guide "Exploring the Rainbow History Project Collection." 
  • RHP maintains a "Guide to Finding Aids (List)." This includes titles of archival collections, periodicals, and ephemera, as well as links to finding aids and indexes of periodicals available at the DC History Center. It also includes information about recent acquisitions that have not yet been transferred to DCHC; these may be available to researchers, by arrangement directly with RHP, info@rainbowhistory.org


RHP’s collection is comprised of materials acquired as part of its mission to "collect, preserve, and promote an active knowledge of the history, arts, and culture of metropolitan Washington, D.C.’s diverse LGBTQ+ communities." Visitors are encouraged to use these materials for personal, educational, research, and other purposes in accordance with these Terms. All uses of its photographs, documents, publications, and other materials must be respectful of LGBTQ history. Any use of its materials or its name that distorts, minimizes, or denies LGBTQ history, or promotes homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny, or bigotry will not be tolerated.

Materials are collected and made available for educational purposes. They should be used under "fair use" principles. Credit should be given as "courtesy Rainbow History Project, Inc." and "copyright" as indicated within the catalog record. The use of materials for commercial purposes (any use intended in a "for-profit" production) requires the permission of the RHP Board of Directors; reproduction or use of materials in educational settings--including curriculum, school projects, and research projects does not require permission.

The Rainbow History Project respects the copyright and intellectual property rights associated with the materials in its collection. To the best of its knowledge, its archival items are either in the public domain; are orphaned works; and/or had their rights for public use transferred to RHP. If you have information about the status of any work, especially its creator or donor, please contact RHP at info@rainbowhistory.org.


As the vocabulary of gender and sexuality identities is always growing and evolving, this website does not claim to be the final authority on language and terminology. If you have a gender- or sexuality-related vocabulary term that you want to add to this site please feel free to email us at info@rainbowhistory.org