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Alison Bechdel papers, ca.1980-2017
30.75 linear feet (41 boxes)
Collection number: SSC.MS.00633

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:

This collection is open for use with following restrictions on access:

Boxes 7-20 of accession 2008-S-104 must be used with great care; researchers may not disrupt the order of materials.

Restrictions on use:

Alison Bechdel has retained copyright in her artwork donated to Smith College. To the extent that she owns it, Alison Bechdel has assigned the copyright in all other materials in this collection to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators.

For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Alison Bechdel, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Sophia Smith Collection

Biographical / Historical

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.

Scope and Contents

The Alison Bechdel papers document the illustrative and written works created by Alison Bechdel. It includes business correspondence for Stationery Flux (S.F.), the business used for Dykes to Watch Out For merchandise, correspondence and royalty information from publishers, character and topic development files, manuscript edits, news clippings, 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 2010s.

The bulk of the collection documents development files for the syndicated comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For and Servants to the Cause are included. Also included are post-syndication/pre-publication edits for Bechdel's book, Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun Home.

This collection has not yet been processed, so is arranged by accession.


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

This collection is open for use with following restrictions on access:

Boxes 7-20 of accession 2008-S-104 must be used with great care; researchers may not disrupt the order of materials.

Restrictions on use:

Alison Bechdel has retained copyright in her artwork donated to Smith College. To the extent that she owns it, Alison Bechdel has assigned the copyright in all other materials in this collection to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators.

For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Alison Bechdel, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

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.

Processing Information

Materials in Boxes 7-20 of 08S-104 arrived from Bechdel in three large plastic tubs and were reboxed while maintaining their original order. The materials are in chronological order from the bottom up and have multiple pages related to each strip. Each strip's pages are not clearly identified as being together, but are by order of sheets in box, from bottom up. So, for example, the bottom of Box 7 contains materials dated around 1984, and the top of box 13 contains materials dated around 2002.

Materials in the 2018-S-0084 accession have been distributed to multiple boxes; large artworks have been unfolded and added to Box 41 in folders, the names of which correspond to the folders they originated in in Boxes 37 and 38.


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, French, Spanish, Japanese
Other Finding Aids

This online finding aid currently provides detailed description of only the most recent additions to this collection. Additional materials are described in unpublished lists that can be sent to you upon request by contacting specialcollections@smith.edu


Contents List
2018-S-0084. Alison Bechdel project files, touring files, and correspondence

4 linear feet(2 record cartons, 3 flat boxes)

Includes project files, touring information, reader correspondence, collaborations with other artists, large drafts of works, and slides of photographs and comic pages

Project files (drawing drafts, photocopies, correspondence with commissioning party)
ca.1980-1994
70 folders(70 folders)
Box 37
Oversize drawings from project files
ca.1980-1994
.5 linear feet(1 flat box)
Box 41
Touring files (schedules, brochures, fliers, and speeches)
1988-1994
45 folders(45 folders)
Box 37
Japan Media Arts Festival information and award
2012
2 folders(2 folders)
Box 38 Box 39
Cartoonist articles and examples
(bulk 1995-2013)
1 folders(1 folder)
Box 38
Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition
2008
1 folders(1 folder)
Box 38
Reader mail (includes souvenirs, gifts, and zines from fans)
2008-2017
2 folders(2 folders)
Box 38 Box 39
News clippings (related to "Fun Home" and Bechdel)
2006-2008
4 folders(4 folders)
Box 38 Box 39
Publisher correspondence (Firebrand, Nancy Bereano, LPC Group, Karen Shatzkin, Oosterhous, other business correspondence)
(bulk 1985-2011)
10 folders(10 folders)
Box 38
Written work
(bulk 1988-1992)
3 folders(3 folders)
Box 38
Talks given by Bechdel
(bulk 1987-1992)
6 folders(6 folders)
Box 38
Workshops
(bulk 1991, 1994)
2 folders(2 folders)
Box 38
Slides of comic pages, drawings, and photographs
(bulk 1992-2002)
.5 linear feet(1 flat box, slides stored in two binders)
Box 40
2008-S-0104. Alison Bechdel papers

13.25 linear feet(20 boxes)

2012-S-0062. 2012-S-0062

7.5 linear feet(8 boxes)

Multiple drafts of "Fun Home"as well as research files, fan mail, original art work , and financial records.

2013-S-0072. 2013-S-0072

2 linear feet(2 boxes)

2015-S-0002. 2015-S-0002

2.5 linear feet(3 boxes)

2015-S-0039. 2015-S-0039

1 linear feet(1 box)

Notes, sketches, research materials, and photos for "Fun Home" (2006).


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
  • Bechdel, Alison, 1960-
  • Bechdel, Alison, 1960-
  • Bechdel, Alison, 1960-. Dykes to watch out for -- Sources
  • 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

Genre terms
  • Cartoons (humorous images)
  • Drawings
  • Financial records
  • Notes
  • Publicity
  • Reviews
  • Sketches
  • clippings
  • correspondence
  • press releases


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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