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Alison Bechdel Papers, 1984-2013
36 boxes (26.75 linear ft.)
Collection number: 633

Abstract:
This collection is comprised of materials related to works created by Alison Bechdel. It includes business correspondence, character and topic development files, manuscript edits, press interviews, reviews, press releases, and a broad range of texts, sketches, and notes that formed the basis for Bechdel's work from the mid-1980s through the early 2000s.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection with the following caveats:

  • This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.
  • Partially restricted access - contact the Sophia Smith Collection for more information.

Restrictions on use:

The material in this collection may be protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights for permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Permission must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Alison Bechdel was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to Bruce Allen Bechdel--high school English teacher, antiques dealer, and funeral director--and Helen Fontana Bechdel--high school English teacher and amateur actress. Her family also owned and operated a funeral home, dubbed the Fun Home by Bechdel and her two brothers.

Bechdel earned her A.A. in 1979 from Simon's Rock Early College (now Simon's Rock of Bard College) and her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1981. She applied to many art schools but was rejected. She worked in various publishing industry office jobs in New York City from 1981 to 1985, and as a production writer for Equal Time in Minneapolis, MN from 1986 to 1990. According to the autobiographical The Indelible Alison Bechdel, she began "Dykes to Watch Out For" (DTWOF) as a single drawing labeled: "Marianne, dissatisfied with the morning brew: Dykes to Watch Out For, plate no. 27." An acquaintance recommended she send her work to Womannews newspaper, which began publishing the strip regularly beginning with the July-August 1983 issue. After a year, other outlets began running the strip, and it was syndicated in 1985.

In 1988, Bechdel began a short-lived, page-length strip about the staff of a queer newspaper, titled Servants to the Cause, for The Advocate newspaper. The success of DTWOF allowed Bechdel to quit her day job in 1990 to work on the strip full-time. Bechdel has written and drawn autobiographical strips, has done illustrations for magazines and websites, and has written numerous books, including Dykes to Watch Out For (1986), More Dykes to Watch Out For (1988), New Improved! Dykes to Watch Out For (1990), Unnatural Dykes to Watch Out For (1995), Hot, Throbbing Dykes to Watch Out For (1997), The Indelible Alison Bechdel: Confessions, Comix and Miscellaneous Dykes to Watch Out For (1998), Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-based Life-Forms to Watch Out For (2003), Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For (2005), Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), and The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (2008). Four of Bechdel's books have won Lamba Literary Awards for humor, and The Indelible Alison Bechdel won a Lambda Literary Award in the biography/autobiography category. In February 2004, Bechdel married her partner since 1992, Amy Rubin, in a civil ceremony in San Francisco; they separated in 2006.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection with the following caveats:

  • This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.
  • Partially restricted access - contact the Sophia Smith Collection for more information.

Restrictions on use:

The material in this collection may be protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights for permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Permission must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Alison Bechdel Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection
Accruals:

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this finding aid.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English


Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • American wit and humor, Pictorial
  • Cartoonists--United States--Biography--Sources
  • Lesbian artists--United States
  • Lesbian feminism--United States--History--Sources
  • Lesbianism in art
  • Lesbianism--United States--Caricatures and cartoons
  • Lesbians--United States--Biography--Sources


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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