Bettye Lane, a photojournalist who lived at Westbeth, died last Wednesday at the age of 82. She has been called the official photographer of the women’s movement and was one of the few photographers who captured the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. She has worked for Time and Life magazines and her work has been collected at the New York Public Library, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard, the Rubenstein library at Duke, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington.
According to the finding aid of the NYPL’s collection Bettye Lane Gay Rights Movement Photographs, Lane began her career as a photojournalist in 1965, just four years before the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in 1969. (Incidentally, the Stonewall Inn is the only site in the US listed on the State and National Registers for its connection to LGBT history.) Besides her photographs from that event, she documented community organizing activities of the gay rights movement for many years following.
While working for the National Observer, a weekly newspaper based in New York City in 1970, Lane was assigned to cover a march called by the National Organization for women called the Women’s Strike for Equality. Following her coverage of this event, she made it a point to attend rallies for the movement whether she was officially being paid or not. She has photographed women leaders of the movement including Gloria Steinem and Representative Bella Abzug.
From 1978 until her death last week, Ms. Lane lived at Westbeth, the live-work complex for artists on the Greenwich Village waterfront. You can learn more about the history of the development of this community and GVSHP’s work to preserve it here. You can read more about Ms. Lane in her New York Times obituary or see photographs from her collection on Lane’s website.