Documenting Queer History

Button — “Gay Power” from the
Lorraine Fontana papers (Q110), Q110_Buttons1_003
“Not sure where to go for queer history?” flyer from the Maria Helena Dolan papers, Q134_015_031_001

Only recently have archival repositories actively and systematically collected LGBTQ+ materials. In 1991, a group of lesbian and gay activists collaborated with the Atlanta History Center to create what would be known as the Atlanta Lesbian and Gay History Thing, and for a number of years, the organization reached out to community members to encourage them to donate materials to the History Center.

Atlanta lesbian and gay history thing themes,
Gay Spirit Visions, W127_BD1236
“Before you donate to the Atlanta lesbian and gay history thing” informative flyer, Q149-002-011-002

Georgia State University’s Special Collections began officially documenting LGBT+ history in 2011. At the time, the materials represented the “Gender” part of our Women and Gender Collections. By the end of 2017, these Gender collections had grown so dramatically that they were separated from the Women’s Collections, and were renamed the Gender and Sexuality Collections.

LGBTQ Archives Project — Anne Graham talks to members of Atlanta’s Prime Timers
Newspaper clippings — “Georgia LGBTQ archives project saves out history”

Also in 2011, the Georgia LGBTQ Archives Project was formed, and GSU became a very active member. The Project brings together archivists, librarians and activists to actively engage with LGBTQ+ communities in order to educate them about the importance of their histories and to encourage them to donate to their local archival repositories.

In 2018, GSU began collaborating with The Invisible Histories Project. Based in Alabama, the Project plans to “collect, preserve and protect the living history of the diversity of the Queer community-both urban and rural” in the Southeast. Using the materials currently available in GSU’s Gender and Sexuality Collections, this exhibit highlights aspects of Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ communities. It is by no means exhaustive!