UNT Libraries to house first LGBT archive in South

UNT Libraries to house first LGBT archive in South

September 04
23:06 2012

Ben Peyton / Staff Writer

UNT is set to become the site of the only Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender archive in the South.

After a four-year process, Resource Center Dallas has donated about 400 boxes of LGBT archives to the university’s Libraries System, which will begin the roughly one-year period of processing the donation in the next month.

“From an academic perspective, this is extraordinary,” said LGBT Studies Co-Director Mark Vosvick, a psychology professor. “No one has published on any kind of LGBT stuff in the South. No one in the whole world.”

The archive dates back to the 1950s and will include newspapers, photos, political posters and more materials related to the gay community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including collections from North Texas LGBT activist Phil Johnson.

“You name any aspect of political, socio, historical stuff that happened in the LGBT community, there is a very good chance that there is something in this archive that is going to document that stuff,” Vosvick said.

The acquisition aligns itself with UNT Libraries’ goal of building its database in two main areas of focus: Latino and Chicano archives and LGBT archives, said Morgan Davis, head of Archives and Rare Books.

UNT has relatively few collections in those two fields, with the exception of a Dallas Voice archive that dates back to 1984, Davis said.

“We are serious about collecting these materials,” she said. “We are serious about preserving this history and also getting the word out to people in that community that their history is important.”

The library is always in the process of expanding its collections, and the new archives are expected to further legitimize its efforts as well as those of the LGBT Studies program.

“This is the seed of a much larger, extensive archive that’s going to grow,” Vosvick said.

UNT Libraries will employ at least two members of its professional staff of archivists during processing, and the department is currently raising money to have the entire archive digitized into the online Portal to Texas History collection.

Digitizing the archive will contribute greatly to UNT and to the world by giving members of the LGBT community – who might feel isolated in in rural areas – the opportunity to access the digital archive and have a sense of history and belonging, Vosvick said.

However, the archives’ priceless pieces are not exclusive to the LGBT Studies program or members of the LGBT community in general. The archive is also an important piece of history for residents of the South, Vosvick said.

He estimates that three-fourths of students enrolled in LGBT Studies are not members of the LGBT community but are instead students from various academic fields hoping to gain a better understanding of a key demographic of American society.

“It helps people understand the [nation’s] diversity, ” said graduate Libraries Assistant Rob Huttmeyer, who is helping to process the new collection.

The library is welcoming students who are interested in knowing more about the archive and would like to volunteer their time to help with processing.

Please contact Morgan Davis at 940-369-8657 for more information.

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