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British Library of Political and Economic Science

JAMES, Michael, b 1941, gay activist


Reference code(s): GB 0097 MICHAEL JAMES PAPERS

Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science

Title: JAMES, Michael, b 1941, gay activist

Date(s): 1959-2006

Level of description: collection

Extent: 24 boxes

Name of creator(s): James | Michael | b 1941 | gay activist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Michael James (Lynham) was born in Northern Ireland in 1941. Following his move to London, he worked as a window dresser, an antiques dealer and a coffee shop manager. He was an active member of the London Gay Liberation Front in the early 1970s, participating in the Media Workshop which produced Come Together, and in several well publicised demonstrations including the disruption of the Festival of Light in 1971. He was also involved with radical drag and lived in the Colville House commune, which he left in 1973. Following a prison sentence, Michael James worked from 1984 onwards for Body Positive, an HIV/Aids counselling organisation, undertaking full-time hospital visiting and becoming co-ordinator of the Hospital Visitors Group. He left the organisation in 1990, but returned later that year as a centre volunteer and worked for the Gay Switchboard until 1994. He now lives in Brighton.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Michael James, 1959-2000, including correspondence, 1977-1986, notably letters sent to and written by Michael James whilst in prison, 1977-1982; journals and diaries, 1980-[1999], including material relating to the impact of AIDS on the gay community and Body Positive hospital visiting; notebooks, 1977-[2000], containing poetry and prose, diary entries, records of dreams and predictions, sketches, draft letters, notes and cuttings of articles written by James for gay publications; material relating to published and unpublished poetry, articles, reviews and interviews, 1974-1986; papers relating to Body Positive, 1984-[1994], including annual reports, minutes of the Annual General meetings, Hospital Visiting Group meetings and the Counselling Group meetings, newsletters and other publications, and correspondence; photographs, 1959-1989, including Gay Liberation Front and Body Positive events; printed material and ephemera, [1972-1986], notably copies of Come Together; the years of gay liberation, 1970-1973, and Men in frocks (GMP, London, 1984) by Kris Kirk and Ed Heath; a cassette tape and synopsis of an interview by Michael James for the AIDS Social History Programme, 1991, relating to his work with Body Positive; summary of a life history interview taped for the National Sound Archive, 1993; papers of Tarsus Sutton, 1932-1990, including personal papers, leaflets and pamphlets, letters and postcards from Michael James and a notebook relating to hospital visits for Body Positive; personal papers, memorabilia and diaries documenting gay life in Brighton, 1995-1998; audio tapes, [1988-2000], including material relating to the Gay Liberation Front, the Notting Hill commune, and Body Positive hospital visiting. M3364 (deposited February 2007): correspondence and diaries, 2006, with papers relating to community activities in Brighton and Hove, 2006 (including copies of the 'Kemptown Rag' , papers relating to the Defend Council Housing campaign and Brighton Pride photo souvenir magazine). Also CDs containing letters and diaries from 1997-2006.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Arranged as outlined in the Scope and Content. Deposits after 1993 are unsorted.

Conditions governing access:

Apply to Archivist.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright retained by the donor and their heirs.

Physical characteristics:

The collection includes audio tapes.

Finding aids:

Catalogue available from Archives staff for the 1990 and 1993 deposits. Later deposits are unlisted.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Given by Michael James in 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Further material was given by the AIDS Social History Programme, in 1991 and the National Sound Archive, in 1993.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The British Library of Political and Economic Science holds the Hall-Carpenter Archive, which contains records and publications of gay organisations and individuals in the UK and worldwide, including those of the GLF and Body Positive (Ref: HCA).

Publication note:

Lisa Power No bath but plenty of bubbles: an oral history of the Gay Liberation Front, 1970-73 (Cassell, London, 1995).



Archivist's note: Sources: British Library of Political and Economic Science Archives catalogue; Lisa Power No bath but plenty of bubbles: an oral history of the Gay Liberation Front, 1970-73 (Cassell, London, 1995). Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Updated Apr 2008 by LSE Archives.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Feb 2001; Apr 2008

Drag | Life styles | Cultural life | Cultural conditions
HIV/AIDS counselling | Counselling | Social work
Homosexuality | Sexuality
Lesbian and gay press | Press
Liberation movements | Political movements
Radical drag | Political movements
Transvestism | Life styles | Cultural life | Cultural conditions

Personal names
James | Michael | b 1941 | gay and drag activist and counsellor
Sutton | Tarsus | d 1994 | gay and drag activist

Corporate names
Aids Social History Programme
Body Positive | HIV/Aids counselling organisation
Gay Liberation Front

Brighton | Sussex | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Notting Hill | Kensington and Chelsea | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
East Sussex