UNT Libraries to house archives from Resource Center Dallas

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 14:04

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Materials that trace 60 years of the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social movements in the North Texas region will be housed at the University of North Texas Libraries under an agreement with Resource Center Dallas to acquire the center's archives.

The 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 will also receive T-shirts, buttons and other promotion items from AIDS walks and other fundraising events, and uniforms and other materials from gay sports teams from the archives. The collection will be known as the Resource Center Dallas LGBT Collection of the UNT Libraries.

Dreanna Belden, the UNT Libraries' assistant dean for external relations, said 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. Future collection activities by the libraries, she said, will fulfill a need in historical and cultural studies where LGBT populations have been historically underrepresented. 

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.

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.

Cece Cox, chief executive officer of Resource Center Dallas, calls the history of LGBT social movements in the North Texas region "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 said.

Gregory Pynes, president of the center's board of directors, said the agreement "will result in the center's archive and library materials being easily accessible to the entire world."

Students who are taking courses in UNT's LGBT Studies Program will particularly benefit from having the archives on campus, said Mark Vosvick, UNT 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 said. "For instance, a political science major will have access to items from advocacy and political organizations. There's even some items from nationally-known LGBT advocates who visited Dallas."

Vosvick added that the archives will allow UNT students in all majors "more exposure to diversity."

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 said.

Vosvick said 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 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.

About the UNT Libraries
The UNT Libraries has been nationally and internationally recognized for its emphasis on digital preservation. Earlier this year, the UNT Libraries was 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 was also 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 accumulated information from defunct agency web sites   

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