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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Sally M. Miller

First Committee Member

R. H. Limbaugh

Second Committee Member

Donald Grubbs


The purpose of this thesis is to recall a period of history when women were expected to adhere to a rigid societal structure. It captures a glimpse of a few women's lives in California who courageously came forth to promote a positive identity for lesbians in the hearts of their budding community. Although lesbians of California will be the only women addressed in this study, lesbians and gay men in several states were active in setting the stage for the eruption of Stonewall, which marked the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement.

The women participating in this study have provided an illuminating personalized view of lesbian life within the context of the butch-fern phenomenon and their subculture's collision with mainstream society.

Marge Frantz is included even though she could not reveal the fact that she was a lesbian, but she is an example of a lesbian who took great risks and suffered many hardships in her political endeavors.

Conclusions drawn illustrate comparisons between the 1940s and 1950s lesbian subculture and that of today's lesbian community. This includes how expectations of lesbians have changed from one generation to the next, and what sparked the shift in those expectations.

Research methods include conducting a series of personal interviews, investigating archival material, and supplementing the data with secondary sources.



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