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The Spanner Trust - The Leather Archives & Museum

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The Leather Archives & Museum

The Leather Archives & Museum (‘LA&M’) was established in 1997 in Chicago to create an archive of the history of the leather communities and leather sex as they exist today. It moved to a new permanent home in Chicago in February 2,000. It now serves the leather/ SM /fetish communities of all sexual orientations throughout the world.

The LA&M aims to be a resource, collecting many kinds of artefacts and memorabilia of leather/ SM /fetish lives and activities from around the world. The Executive Director is Joseph M Bean; a former editor of Drummer, Mach, International Leatherman and other leather/SM magazines and author or editor of a number of books on leather/SM.

Although the LA&M has been in existence for a number of years it is only now able to reach out and solicit materials from outside the USA. It is now actively soliciting materials from individuals and clubs in the UK and across Europe, for example the gay MSC [motor sports clubs] leather clubs. The LA&M’s board of Directors is keen that the facility reflects the history and developments of the leather communities world-wide. Joseph Bean recently said: “almost anything would be welcome. Copies of constitutions and bylaws are interesting, patches and other representations of colours are great, and nothing is better than a carefully recorded history of a club, especially if it can include memories of the founding members and supporting documentation”.

The LA&M has five main projects: -

  • Library - collects and preserves books/magazines about all sexualities and sexual variations, concentrating on leather, SM, fetish and other forms of radical sexuality.
  • History of Clubs - collects the histories of leather/ SM/ motorcycle/ fetish and related clubs anywhere in the world together with their records, constitutions, bylaws, patches and ephemera.
  • Oral History - arranges the taping and transcription of interviews with important individuals or long-time participants in their leather/ SM/ fetish lifestyles. This is first hand stories of the beginnings of the leather/ SM/ fetish world as it exists today and is one of the Museum’s most important information sources. The Museum hopes to record some interviews with UK individuals.
  • Materials – collects fliers, posters, programmes, newsletters, brochures, educational materials and prints of web sites and emails of leather men and women and their organisations and businesses, together with evidence of legal and social battles with reference to the leather/SM fetish lifestyles.
  • Capital – raising funds to pay off the purchase of the Museum’s building by August 2004 and to create an endowment fund to finance the Museum’s future expenditures. Most funds come in the form of subscriptions and donations.

The Museum’s collections are open to researchers and visitors by arrangement.

For more information visit the LA&M website (

Joseph Bean, Executive Director,

Leather Archive & Museum,
6418 N. Greenview Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60626. 
Tel: 001-773-761-9200 
Fax: 001-773-262-7499


The Spanner Trust always tries to ensure that all information provided is accurate and up-to-date. However, the law can change and is open to interpretation. Before relying upon any statement made by the Spanner Trust you should take your own independent legal advice and the Spanner Trust cannot accept any liability whatsoever.