Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Print to Digital: Lesbian Herstory Archives

I want to thank Krista May for suggesting that I discuss the Lesbian Herstory Archives for my latest blog post.

Many early digital archives were created to highlight long standing physical archives. Such is the case with the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

Begun in 1974 in New York by activists Julia Stanley, Joan Nestle, Deborah Edel, Sahli Cavallo and Pamela Oline, the Herstory Archive was born out of concern about "the precariousness of lesbian culture and how so much of our past culture was seen only through patriarchal eye" (history). A grassroots archive that collects oral histories, journals, photographs, letters, physical artifacts and much, much more, the archive expanded in the late 1970s with the support of Judith Schwarz and Mabel Hampton.  Here's a video of Edel, Nestle and Schwartz discussing the formation of the archive:

The project has clear set of goals, and the principles emphasize that the archive is for and from the community. The principles highlight inclusion and shared experience, rejecting the role of academic organizations in the preservation of lesbian history and experience.

The digital Herstory is designed to expand the project's reach. In "How to use the Archives from a Distance," the archivists write, "Since the Lesbian Herstory Archives strives to serve the Lesbian Nation, and not just the Dykes of New York, it is important you understand how to use the Archives from a distance. We may be located in New York City, but we do in actuality provide services to Lesbians the world over" (How to). The digital version includes lists of archival materials, web links to various queer organizations, a transcription of a Radcliffe Hall letter, and digital exhibits of archival materials, such as Keepin' On: Images of the African American Lesbians

The current website continues the work of the early physical and digital archive, adding a virtual tour of the archive, collecting 40 some years of the Lesbian Herstory newsletters, and over 4,000 oral histories (located in the Herstories Digital Collection--which is housed in Omeka)

No comments:

Post a Comment