Queer Preservations: LGBTQ Archives across New York

AHA Session 118
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 8
Saturday, January 4, 2020: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Murray Hill East (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Jason Baumann, New York Public Library
Cheryl Beredo, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Olive Casareno, LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York
Caitlin McCarthy, The LGBT Community Center
Colette Montoya-Sloan, Adelphi University-Manhattan Center
Stephen Petrus, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, LaGuardia Community College
Red Washburn, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York

Session Abstract

New York City is a critical site not only for LGBTQ history, but also for archives documenting LGBTQ experience. This panel draws on opportunities made possible by the 2020 annual meeting’s location in New York City to highlight four important LGBTQ archives that, for all their significance, remain under-resourced or underrecognized in the historical profession. These entities are the Lesbian Herstory Archives (Brooklyn), the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Harlem), The Center Archive (Greenwich Village), and the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives (Long Island City). Of these archives, two are independent and two are affiliated with colleges or major libraries; two have been organized for decades, while two are more recently created or staffed. Panel participants work directly with the archives as staff, volunteers, or students. Through roundtable discussion, panelists will explore the intersections of archival practices and community building, both today and historically. In conversation with the audience, they will consider practices and strategies that lay groundwork for the growth of their collections and of LGBTQ archives more broadly.

All of our speakers are engaged with questions of community-building, accessibility, resource-sharing, and sustainability in LGBTQ archives. Red Washburn and Colette Montoya-Sloan (sharing a time slot) will discuss their work with the Lesbian Herstory Archives, emphasizing the continuing relevance of lesbian/queer space, grassroots archival practice, and intergenerational community. They will center their focus on Lez Create: The Dyke Arts Workshop and the Spoken Word Project/Audio Collection. Cheryl Beredo will present on LGBTQ materials at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, especially detailing the In the Life Archive, a rich collection of Black LGBTQ individuals, organizations, and culture. Archives at the Schomburg bring forth the intersections of Black and LGBTQ experiences. The next speakers will present on collections that reflect more newly developed archival locations and practices. Caitlin McCarthy, the first staff archivist at The LGBT Center of New York City, will discuss the organization’s move toward formalizing its collections, which center on gay liberation and HIV/AIDS. She will highlight partnerships and practices that aim to strengthen The Center Archive’s inclusion of lesbian, bisexual, trans, and people of color experiences. Finally, Stephen Petrus and Olive Casareno (sharing a time slot) will discuss the growing Queens LGBT Collection at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, held in Long Island City at LaGuardia Community College. Petrus will focus on the Daniel Dromm Collection (donated by a Queens public school teacher and a founder of the Queens Pride Parade and Festival), the AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC) Collection, and the role of public programming in the Archives’ work.

The roundtable will be chaired by Jason Baumann, coordinator of the LGBTQ Initiative of the New York Public Library. Baumann’s position in a relatively well-supported archive of LGBTQ material offers a basis for analyzing the social locations, structures, and pressures that shape the growth, availability of, and access to LGBTQ archives.

See more of: AHA Sessions