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Course & Subject Guides

LGBTQ Digital Archives in the Classroom @ Pitt

A guide to aid students in using digital archives and to give instructors ideas about how to use these archives in the classroom

Our Project in Review

The LGBT Archival Education Project Fellowship (July 27 - September 4, 2020) consisted of six undergraduate fellows who used their research in the queer digital archives to create a student module to teach the significance of queer archives as historical, social and political resources. The fellows used local archives, such as the thousands of records in Harrison Apple’s Pittsburgh Queer History Projects, in conjunction with historic legal documents and other records on a national scale that illustrate the history of gentrification nationwide, to build a curriculum centered around Pittsburgh queer spaces, gentrification, and queer futurity. 

Over the summer, the focus was on assessing queerness in the archives, and asking questions concerning the prevalence of these histories and where they lead to in the future. Having the guide of past narratives and experiences is a pleasure and a privilege that is not afforded to all, and this work has begun to challenge that and open it up for change. After creating the module, which will be taught in a Queer Archives course in October, the fellows created this LibGuide as a collection of resources which can be adapted and re-purposed in the future to teach and promote queer archives throughout the Pitt community and beyond. 

"Pittsburgh Tavern Guild Advertisement 'Best Kept Secret'" Chuck Tierney Collection, Pittsburgh Queer History Project

This process has relied on starting in places of development and moving outwards - using established archives such as Independent Voices, Queer Zine Archival Project, and the Pittsburgh Queer History Project, among others, and then moving to avenues that are less explicitly archival or organized as archives - events, art shows, ephemera, and the like. By working in highly focused teams with a cohesive theme, the fellows were able to break boundaries of past and present, working out the question of what it means to be privy to a hidden history, and how this expands to unveil other histories centering around civil unrest and deep change.

While this curriculum is centered around themes of urban and metaphysical gentrification, the tools that were accessed can be used for any number of projects and topics. Early entrance into archives and access of information leads down an overwhelming number of avenues - some widespread, some specific. While the research here is nowhere near fully comprehensive of all that is available, the goal is that it inspires a prerogative to continue to uncover and analyze these histories for their past and current value.