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Holdings & Collections
Swiss Gay Archives

The Swiss Gay Archives has existed as an association since 1993. It mainly archives materials on the history of gay men in Switzerland, but also generally on the history of men and women whose sexual orientation differs from the heterosexual norm. The archive collects bequests of associations and individuals, unpublished academic publications, magazines, photo albums, letters, diaries, and much more.

The Swiss Gay Archives contains over 60 meters of documents from a wide variety of sources. They are stored in and can be consulted in the Swiss Social Archives. In addition, extensive holdings of periodical and numerous monographs are held in the Social Archives. These documents were integrated into the Social Archive's library holdings.

The finding aid of the Swiss Social Archives is currently being revised. An extended current version of the inventory is available as a PDF.

Selected material

Swiss Social Archives

Ar 36.38

Bequest Eugen Laubacher (1902-1999)

As Charles Welti, Eugen Laubacher (1902-1999) was in Karl Meier / Rolf's editorial team from 1938. He was responsible for the French articles in the “Kreis”. We owe our historically most valuable estate to the fact that Laubacher fortunately did not stick to the agreement to destroy all documents after the “Kreis” was dissolved.

Black and white portrait of Eugen Laubacher. Photographer unknown.

Swiss Social Archives

Ar 36.32 and 36.139

Collection Robert Rapp (1930-2018) and Ernst Ostertag

Robert Rapp and Ernst Ostertag were already members of the "Kreis" in the 1950s. They were among the organisers of the legendary autumn festivals in Neumarkt. Robert Rapp was regularly seen on stage at these festivals in travesty roles. After the demise of the "Kreis", Ernst Ostertag was one of the co-founders of the successor organisation Club 68.

Röbi Rapp and Ernst Ostertag, July 1, 2003, registering their partnership in Zurich. Photographer unknown.

Swiss Social Archives

Ar 36.140

Bequest Mary Lang (Mary’s Old Timers Bar, Zurich)

Between 1935 and 1975, Mary Lang (1884-1977) ran Mary's Old Timers Bar at Augustinergasse 14 in Zurich, a popular meeting place for American soldiers on vacation and a safe haven for gay men. Mary’s Bar closed in 1975, and Mary herself was struggling with health problems in her old age.

Historical postcard photograph of the facade of Mary's Old Timers Bar from 1965

Swiss Social Archives

Ar 36.5

Swiss gay movement: Organizational files 1932-1974

Minutes and correspondence, for example from the reading circle “Der Kreis”, the Isola Club Basel or “Amicitia”.

Excerpt from a letter from the organizational files with the letterhead of the “Kreis”

Image & Audio

Audiovisual material such as photographs, sound recordings and videos provide a particularly vivid impression of culture and life in the gay community in Switzerland. Various holdings in the gay archive contain photographs of events, as well as interviews with contemporary witnesses.

Archival collections thrive on their accessibility. That's why we strive to make them available digitally whenever possible, for example via the Bild+Ton database of the Swiss Social Archives. However, only some of our materials have currently been digitized and not all of the objects they contain have been digitized yet. For an overall overview, it is always worth taking a look at this inventory (PDF) of the Swiss Gay Archives.

Selected material

Swiss Social Archives

F 5004

Image and photo documentation by Eugen Laubacher

The bequest of Eugen Laubacher/Charles Welti contains partially digitised images of his person and "Kreis" activities (parties, theatre, excursions) as well as images of various gay artists of the 20th century. Particularly noteworthy are the collections of Raymond Carrance, Jean Boullet, George Quaintance, George Platt Lynes, Bernardino del Boca and Wilhelm von Gloeden.

Pen drawing by Bernardino del Boca entitled "Dreaming". Artist: Bernardino del Boca.

Swiss Social Archives

F 1003

Audio recordings from the Swiss Gay Archive

The collection consists of interviews with gay men. For example, with the legendary Zurich photographer Karlheinz Weinberger, who photographed for the "Kreis" for years under the alias "Jim". Or the interview with Max Krieg, who founded the gay organisation "Club In" in Ticino in the 1970s.

Photograph of a recording device from Nagra. Photographer: Franco Battel.

Swiss Social Archives

F 5159

Photo documentation from various bequests

Photos from various small donations and sub-organisations of the Swiss Gay Archives Association, partly digitised. The pictures come from the bequests of Bertie Wolf (1917-2000, masked balls, sketches at summer and autumn festivals of the "Kreis"), Alois "Wisel" Lötscher (1926-2001), Alfred Brauchli (1916-2010), Werner Dietrich (1923-2014) and Fritz H. (?-1998).

Holiday photo of Werner Dietrich (Sicily, approx. 1950-1965). Signature: Sozarch_F_5159-103-Fx-018

Magazines & Newspapers

Publications document public life and the development of a community over time. Particularly noteworthy is the magazine “Der Kreis”, which was indispensable for the gay community in Switzerland as a monthly from 1943 to 1967. The writing has been fully digitized and made available on E-Periodica.

In addition, documentation from magazine and newspaper articles has been compiled by various people over the years. The individual parallel collections complement each other.

Selected material


Ar 36.106

Der Kreis

"Der Kreis" was a trilingual, internationally respected gay magazine for men that appeared in Zurich from 1943 to 1967. In contrast, the immediate predecessor magazines Swiss Friendship Banner (1932-1936) and Human Rights (1937-1942) were aimed at homosexuals of both sexes.

Cover of an issue of “Der Kreis” (Volume 25, 1957, Issue 1)

Swiss Social Archives

Ar 36.35-36

Collections of newspaper and magazine articles

The two collections contain domestic and foreign newspaper and magazine articles from the period 1987 to 2002 from Tages-Anzeiger, NZZ, Die Zeit, Ratgeber Gesundheit, FAZ, Weltwoche, 24 heures, Neues Deutschland, Focus, The Independent and many others.

Photograph of the front page of a newspaper with the headline "His collar bursts after Sunday's 'gay episode'."
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