Special Collections Highlight : Ruth Dworin Collection

The Dworin Collection consists of over 800 items acquired from Ruth Dworin, a local 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 and critical studies of lesbianism, published between 1923 and 1998. Many of these titles are considered ‘pulp fiction’ paperbacks.

Although a mass-produced product, many paperback titles from the 1950s and 1960s only went through limited print runs.  As an ephemeral, ‘consumable’ product, pulp novels were meant to be disposable, and many titles do not survive into the present day in good condition.  About 400 of the titles in the collection fall under the sub-genre of lesbian pulp-fiction.  The books are known for their explicit lesbian themes and provocative cover art, and may be of research interest for faculty and students studying popular culture, women’s studies, sexual diversity studies, and book history.

A listing of the Dworin collection can be found here.

In addition to her book collection, Dworin also donated her personal papers which 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.

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