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Penny Gardner papers

Identifier: MSS 562 large

Scope and Contents

The Penny Gardner papers contain correspondence, photographs, clippings, pamphlets, t-shirts, and other ephemera relating to Gardner's activism on behalf of the Lesbian/LGBTQ+ community, including records documenting her participation in the 1991 Ride for Reproductive Freedom, her leadership within the Council on Aging, and other organizations.


  • Creation: 1977 - 2015


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

The material is stored offsite in Remote Storage. Please contact Special Collections 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Biographical / Historical

Penny Gardener was a mother of three children by the age of 18. She became a Playboy Bunny and worked at entertainment clubs in her early 20s. She earned a BA from Loretto Heights College in Communications in 1976 and earned a graduate degree in Women's Studies and doctorate in American Studies from Michigan State University. Gardner has been an instructor at MSU's department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures until retiring in 2016, activist, and feminist. She has been an integral member of the Lansing-area lesbian community, serving as President of Lesbian Connection, Elsie Publishing, the Lansing Association for Human Rights, Michigan Equality, and holds leadership positions in the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Women’s Political Caucus. In 1991, she participated in the Reproductive Freedom Riders as one of 11 bicyclists who rode from New York City to Seattle, Washington, which drew international attention to champion topics including women's health, reproductive rights, sex education, AIDS education, lesbian parenting, domestic and bias-related violence. Gardner also serves on the board for the Tri-County Office on Aging and served as President of the MSU Union of Nontenured-Track Faculty.


3.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Penny Gardner in 2016.

Processing Information

Lydia Tang processed this collection in 2019.

Sources consulted in creating this finding aid include: Green, Deja, "From Playboy Bunny to MSU Professor," State News, November 22, 2015.

The following photocopies were deaccessioned: Sinister Wisdom, no. 10, ed. by Susan Leigh Star Sinister Wisdom, no. 53, Summer/Fall 1994 Daly, Mary. "the qualitative lead beyond patriarical religion." in Quest: Women and Spirituality 1, no. 4, Spring 1975. 21-39

Finding Aid for the Penny Gardner papers
4 Published And Cataloged
Lydia Tang
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA