SC LGBTQ+ Collection

Origins

The SC LGBTQ Oral Histories, Archives, and Outreach project began in 2016 with support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. Today, the project has more than 55 recorded interviews and 17 collections available to the campus community and the public. 

Our Work

We have developed a two-pronged program: oral histories and archives. We record oral history interviews and collect documentary evidence such as letters, photographs, manuscripts, ephemera, and other materials that prove LGBTQ+ people have always been here and have consistently worked against prejudice to shape the life and culture of the Lowcountry.

Archival:

Through purchases and gifts, our archives now has materials documenting a possible intersex individual who lived in Charleston before the Civil War; the papers of important LGBTQ+ cultural leaders, including some who lived on what is now the College of Charleston campus; as well as materials documenting out men and women who ran for statewide and national political office, and those who helped shape the national discourse on LGBTQ+ rights.  We are also documenting active organizations such as the Alliance for Full Acceptance and We Are Family ; we are documenting defunct ones like the Lowcountry Gay and Lesbian Alliance. To learn about additional collections and resources please visit our LibGuide.

Oral Histories:

As vitally important as the written record of a community is its oral one, handed down through time. For years, LGBTQ+ people were silenced, censored and written out of history. Our project records, transcribes, and posts interviews on the Lowcountry Digital Library. To listen to the interviews, view our oral history collection on the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Outreach: 

With support from The Mellon Foundation, the SC LGBTQ project is working to engage more students, faculty, staff, and members of the community as stewards, users, and stakeholders in this work. We are developing primary source sets for classroom use and convening a community advisory board to inform current and future directions of the project. 

Results

When scholars want to document the local LGBTQ+ rights movement, we can help. If a struggling teen needs to believe that LGBTQ+ people can live here happily and proudly, and not just in faraway urban areas, we are here.  Our visible and vocal presence on our campus, where more than 18% of our students self-identify as LGBTQ+ and gender expansive, has worked to help make history, and not just preserve it. The College of Charleston now holds more forums for its LGBTQ+ students, sports more supportive signage, and participates in major events in the community like never before.