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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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M.D. Anderson Library receives endowment for LGBT history research collection


UH Libraries has received an endowment from the Hollyfield Foundation to fund preservation and expansion of its LGBT history research collection. | File photo

M.D. Anderson library has received an endowment from the Hollyfield Foundation to acquire and preserve primary source materials in the LGBT history research collection.

Housed in UH Libraries Special Collections, the archive aims to preserve and promote material that documents the social, cultural and political activities of LGBT communities and organizations from Houston and the surrounding area.

Materials include personal papers and organization records from LGBT community members in and around Houston.

“I’m very excited that the Hollyfield Foundation has enabled new and additional commitments to queer people and their historical records at our M.D. Anderson Library,” said Andrew Joseph Pegoda, a professor in the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program. 

“Queer historical knowledge is important … because it helps us understand the dynamics of gender and societies more, and how such dynamics are always changing,” Pegoda added.

UH Libraries plans to host an annual exhibition of the LGBT history research collection materials in June to acknowledge Pride month and the Hollyfield Foundation grant. 

“The new annual displays in June will certainly contribute to more complex, diverse understandings of how we got to where we are in 2020,” Pegoda said. “Hopefully, this includes online components since on-campus traffic drops off precipitously during the summer.” 

For Pegoda, the LGBT history research collection presents an opportunity to capture the complexities of LGBT history.

“My philosophy as a historian who favors cultural studies methodologies is that everything and everyone is of historical importance,” Pegoda said. “Queer identities are far more complicated and nuanced than commonly accepted by society.” 

For women’s, gender and sexuality studies senior Kat Newman, the LGBT history research collection draws attention to the LGBT stories removed from Houston’s history.

“So often, LGBTQ+ history has been erased from the overarching narratives of national and local history,” Newman said. “Houston, like every other city, has a rich history regarding its LGBTQ+ people, which is usually undocumented, unarchived and therefore forgotten … We owe it to our LGBTQ+ community to preserve LGBTQ+ histories.” 

Newman considers the annual showcases of the LGBT history research collection materials as a way to expose all members of the UH community to the past experiences of Houston’s LGBT community.

“By having a public display in the library … UH is opening students up to our silent histories,” Newman said. “For LGBT students, faculty and visitors, it is empowering to finally see our history being celebrated.” 

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