Materials that trace 60 years of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social movements in the North Texas region will be housed in UNT Libraries under an agreement with Resource Center Dallas to acquire the center's archives.
UNT Libraries will receive approximately 400 boxes of newspapers, periodicals, press clippings, audio files, videotapes of gay pride parades and other events, 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 T-shirts, buttons and other promotional items from AIDS walks and other fundraising events, and uniforms and materials from gay sports teams. The collection will be known as the Resource Center Dallas LGBT Collection of the UNT Libraries.
Some of the 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.
Dreanna Belden, UNT Libraries' assistant dean for external relations, says 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 region and becoming a center for the study of LGBT history.
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 of LGBT artifacts and materials to the center, including copies of the magazine The Advocate and the newspaper Dallas Voice.
Cece Cox, chief executive officer of Resource Center Dallas, says the history of LGBT social movements in the North Texas region are "an important part of modern Texas history."
"By partnering with a nationally recognized library facility at the University of North Texas, we are ensuring that our valuable history will be available for future generations of students, academics, researchers and the general public," Cox says.
Students who are taking courses in UNT's LGBT Studies Program will particularly benefit from having the archives on campus, says Mark Vosvick, 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. Twenty-six students are enrolled for the undergraduate minor offered through the program, and many more students take the courses for elective credit.
"Students will have primary source material for research, and the archives include material that can be applied to all academic disciplines," Vosvick says. "For instance, a political science major will have access to items from advocacy and political organizations. There are even some items from nationally known LGBT advocates who visited Dallas."
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 says.
Vosvick says the regional archives at UNT "will shed light on what LGBT communities look like in the South, where the culture toward gays and lesbians is not necessarily as embracing as that in the East or the Pacific Northwest."
About UNT Libraries
UNT Libraries has been nationally and internationally recognized for its emphasis on digital preservation. The UNT Libraries has been 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 also has been 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 information from defunct agency websites.
About Resource Center Dallas
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., with a paid staff of more than 50 and more than 1,100 volunteers. More than 60,000 people used the center's services and programs last year. The center is a trusted leader that empowers the LGBT communities and all people affected by HIV by improving health and wellness, strengthening families and communities, and providing transformative education and advocacy.
Nancy Kolsti with UNT News Service can be reached at Nancy.Kolsti@unt.edu.