What are archival records?

Archival records have an enduring value to document the human experience. These records include (but are not limited to) letters, photographs, newsletters, and digital files. Archivists preserve, organize, and provide access to these materials so that we can explore and learn from our past.

Why should we collect LGBTQ-specific material?

When documentaries are created, when history books are written, and when policy is made, researchers turn to archives to find their information. In order to give current and future researchers a complete picture of what life was like in the Lowcountry both today and in the past, we must include information on LGBTQ people.

Do I have anything to donate?

You just might! There are two main types of archival records: personal papers (those relating to one person or a family), and organizational records. Some of your personal files or those belonging to friends and loved ones could have historical value. Imagine reading the letters between a gay couple during World War II. Your letters, diaries, and scrapbooks may have a similar value for researchers 70 years into the future, allowing them to see what life was like for LGBTQ people in the early 21st century. Did you participate in an organization, serve on a committee, or publish a newsletter relating to LGBTQ issues? Think about how researchers today study the activities of early gay groups like the Daughters of Bilitis or more modern ones like ACT UP. One day in the future, researchers will want to learn about LGBTQ organizations at the turn of the 21st century.

What types of materials are you looking for?

Lots of things! Specifically, we’re looking for LGBTQ newspapers or newsletters, photographs of LGBTQ life including pride celebrations, bars, and get-togethers, diaries, letters, scrapbooks, videos, and files relating to your civic, business, religious, political, and social activities. For organizations, we’re looking for bylaws, flyers, meeting minutes, reports, photographs, correspondence between officers, and financial records. For more information, see this guide on donating organizational papers and this guide on donating personal papers, both from the Society of American Archivists.

I want to donate! What’s my next step?

Great! Contact our project director, Harlan Greene, at greeneh@cofc.edu or our project archivist, Rebecca Thayer, at thayerrc@cofc.edu for more information.