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LGBTQ Archive Receives Governor’s Archives Award for Archival Advocacy

October 21, 2019

The LGBTQ Archives is proud to announce it has received the 2018 Governor’s Archives Award for Archival Advocacy – 50 years after the historic Stonewall riots. The award, given by the Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board (WHRAB) and the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS), will be presented on October 30, 2019.

The LGBTQ Archive is a partnership between a community committee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives. It contains oral histories, personal papers, photographs, ephemera, and organizational records related to LGBTQ life in Madison, Dane County, and beyond, from the 1930s to today. Since 2015, the project has gathered 94 archival collections. It is an active, innovative initiative thriving with the support of a dedicated community.

“The local LGBTQ community has supported this initiative through donations of both historical materials and financial backing,” says Scott Seyforth, a Co-founder of the LGBTQ Archive Committee. “Scores of individuals and local organizations have made donations of materials to help build an archive of local LGBTQ history. And, local LGBTQ community agencies and individuals have helped provide the necessary financial support.”

What began with a few oral histories has become an increasingly varied collection of materials and voices from the LGBTQ community. From 1970s lesbian poetry to 1980s gay political signs and posters to newspapers from the 1950s, the fast-growing collection reflects the diverse and complex LGBTQ community. With more than 80 interviews, community members have used their voices to tell their own stories.

L to R standing: Dick Wagner, Andrew Shaffer, Pat Calchina, Katherine Charek Briggs, Scott Seyforth.
L to R seated: David Null, Michele Besant

“The LGBTQ Archive is a treasure for the Madison community. It preserves voices of the LGBTQ community through the letters, diaries, photos, and memorabilia from this otherwise forgotten group of people,” says Pat Calchina, who serves on the LGBTQ Archives Committee. “Whether one is a historian conducting research or an interested member of the community, the archive has something for everyone.”

The LGBTQ Archive also offers an educational, on-the-job experience for students from UW-Madison’s iSchool. The archive employs one graduate student throughout the year, providing invaluable training for a competitive job market. It gives students a different model for how archives can work with community partners.

“I am continually impressed with the energy and creativity of the LGBTQ Archive Committee,” says David Pavelich, Director of Special Collections & Archives at UW-Madison. “Their work has been innovative in its conception and ambitious in its aims. The collections they have gathered (and continue to gather) would not have found a publicly accessible home without the committee’s work. They have truly made a positive impact on our state by preserving these important historical collections. And they are just getting started.”

Members of the LGBTQ Archives Committee include Scott Seyforth, Dick Wagner, Michelle Besant, Pat Calchina, Kalleen Mortensen, Kristen Whitson, and Katherine Charek Briggs. Several UW-Madison Archives staff are (or have been) involved, including University Archivist Katie Nash, Alexandra Krensky, Cat Phan, Kalani Adolpho, Sarah Grimm, and Troy Reeves. Karla Strand, the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian for the University of Wisconsin system, is also a current committee member. In addition, former UW-Madison University Archivist David Null helped found the archive, as well as LGBTQ Archivist Andrew Shaffer, who was recently hired into a full-time position with the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.

“This amazing group of people provides the expertise, enthusiasm, and dedication required to make this archive’s success a reality,” says Pavelich.

The community is invited to celebrate the honor of this award, during a public ceremony and reception.

An announcement about the award is in the autumn issue of Columns (page 6), the WHS membership newsletter.

  • October 30, 2019
  • 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
  • Steenbock Library – BioCommons (Lower level)
  • 550 Babcock Dr, Madison, WI 53706