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Collection to enhance LGBT studies in historically underrepresented region

Materials that trace 60 years of the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social movements in the North Texas region will be housed at the UNT Libraries under an agreement with Resource Center Dallas to acquire the center’s archives.

The UNT Libraries will receive approximately 400 boxes of newspapers, periodicals, press clippings, audio files, videotapes, music CDs, and movies focusing on LGBT and HIV/AIDS topics from the center’s Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library. The libraries also will receive items from AIDS walks, fundraising events and from gay sports teams. The collection will be known as the Resource Center Dallas LGBT Collection of the UNT Libraries. 

Mark Vosvick, associate professor of psychologyStudents enrolled in courses in UNT’s LGBT Studies Program will particularly benefit from having the archives on campus, said Mark Vosvick, right, associate professor of psychology and the program’s co-director. The program, which was known as the Study of Sexualities Program until 2009, was the first university program of its kind in Texas.

“Students will have primary source material for research, and the archives include material that can be applied to all academic disciplines,” Vosvick said. “For instance, a political science major will have access to items from advocacy and political organizations.”

Vosvick added that the archives will allow UNT students in all majors “more exposure to diversity.” Resource Center Dallas has had a long connection to UNT through a partnership with UNT’s Center for Psychosocial Health Research, which Vosvick directs. Through the center, faculty members from different academic disciplines research social support and coping strategies for people living with chronic disease and medical conditions, including HIV infection and AIDS. Resource Center Dallas has assisted researchers in finding participants for studies and helped to shape the research by providing information on health concerns in the LGBT communities, Vosvick said.

Dreanna Belden, assistant dean for external relations, UNT LibrariesDreanna Belden, right, assistant dean for external relations, said the Resource Center’s archive will be a strong foundation for the libraries’ goals of collecting LGBT archival material from across the South and Southwest regions and becoming a center for the study of LGBT history. Future collection activities will fulfill a need in historical and cultural studies where LGBT populations have been historically underrepresented.

Large regional and national archives recording the history and lives of gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals, organizations and communities are in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, but no such archives exists in any Southern state.

The Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library was established in 1994 after Phil Johnson, the creator of Dallas’ first gay advocacy organization, donated his personal collection to the center. Some materials will be digitized for the Portal to Texas History and become part of the UNT Digital Library, which currently has more than 67,000 unique items comprising 4.5 million files.

Cece Cox, chief executive officer of Resource Center Dallas, calls the history of LGBT social movements in the North Texas region “an important part of modern Texas history … we are ensuring that our valuable history will be available for future generations.”

Resource Center Dallas began in 1983 as the Foundation for Human Understanding. It became a source for community awareness and prevention education, legal services, a food pantry and other services. The center received its current name in 2009 and is today one of the largest LGBT community centers in the U.S. More than 60,000 people used the center’s services and programs last year.

The UNT Libraries has been nationally and internationally recognized for its emphasis on digital preservation. Earlier this year, the UNT Libraries was ranked among the top 20 institutional digital repositories in the world in the latest Ranking Web of World Depositories measurement by the Cybermetrics Lab, a research group of the Spanish National Research Council. The UNT Libraries was also named one of 10 affiliated archives of the National Archives and Records Administration for creating vital government-related digital collections, including the CyberCemetery, which houses accumulated information from defunct agency web sites.   

 

Posted on: Wed 08 August 2012

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