By Tami Back, W&M Libraries
The William & Mary Archive of American LGBTQ Political and Legal History, a first of its kind in the United States, will be featured at a June 7 event celebrating PRIDE month at the W&M Washington Center.
Established at the university’s Swem Library in memory of gay historian John Boswell ’69, the new archive focuses on the political and legal aspects of the LGBTQ movement for civil equality. The archive includes materials from the tenure of former W&M Rector Jeff Trammell ‘73, who served as the first openly gay board chair of a major public university, and the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.
“We are excited about this new archive that will continue to collect materials that illuminate the history of LGBTQ Americans’ struggle to secure their rights through the political and legal systems of the nation,” Trammell said. “John Boswell was perhaps the most respected scholar on the history of LGBTQ rights and relationships. It is appropriate to create this archive in his memory.”
Trammell, Pate Felts MBA ’78 and Charles Francis, president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., will discuss the new archive, the concept of “Archive Activism” and the importance of preserving original materials documenting LGBTQ political and legal history. A highlight of the evening will be a brief video telling the story of W&M GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alumni/Alumnae) and its role in the 1991 lawsuit French Quarter Café, Inc. v. George M. Hampton, Sr. This lawsuit led to the overturn of Virginia’s ban on the sale of alcohol to “users of narcotics, homosexuals, prostitutes and pimps.”
The Mattachine Collection is the result of a 10-year effort to amass the evidentiary history of federal and state government assault on LGBTQ Americans. The collection is an assemblage of original, declassified documents obtained by research at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, Presidential libraries, along with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and litigation.
“The new archive will begin with the donation of two outstanding collections, both of which contain hundreds of pages of materials related to the challenges the LGBTQ community has faced in their fight for equal rights,” said Jay Gaidmore, director of special collections at W&M. “We are honored that Jeff, Pate and Charles choose our library to be the permanent home for these priceless materials.”
Trammell, Felts and Gaidmore will discuss the new archive’s ongoing efforts to collect and secure the papers and oral histories of Congressional staff, attorneys and activists involved in the legal and political struggle for LGBTQ civil rights.
The event will be held at the W&M Washington Center in association with W&M Libraries, W&M Office of Strategic Cultural Partnerships, Crim Dell Association and Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. A reception will follow the presentation.
All are welcome to attend and can register in advance.