Queer Omaha Archives
Queer Omaha Archives
The Queer Omaha Archives collects and preserves unique and rare documents, photographs, videos, and other historical materials about the LGBTQIA+ history of Omaha and Nebraska as part of UNO Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections. Through donations from dozens of community members, the Queer Omaha Archives shares the stories of individuals, organizations, and the communities they create.
We welcome opportunities to share LGBTQIA+ historical material already in the archives with individuals and organizations and are actively seeking additional material to preserve as part of the archives. Contact archivists to arrange a tour or presentation, discuss donating material , make a financial contribution to support the archives, or to learn about other ways to support the LGBTQIA+ archive at UNO.
How do I find LGBTQIA+ material in Archives and Special Collections?
- Nebraska Archives Online: Search Archives and Special Collections' finding aids - or inventories - for archival and manuscript collections. Nebraska Archives Online includes links to digitized material when available. A video tutorial to introduce you to using Nebraska Archives Online is available. Note that in addition to collections held by UNO Libraries, finding aids for collections held by all University of Nebraska campuses are found in this database.
- Library Catalog: Search for books and published material, such as magazines. Includes links to digitized material when available.
- Digital Collections: Digitized material from Archives and Special Collections is available across several platforms, such as the Gateway student newspaper. Visit the Queer Omaha Archives digital collections portal, which contains a sample of LGBTQIA+ material available from Archives and Special Collections.
- Research guides for Archives and Special Collections material by topic are also available.
How can I support the archives?
View and share material from the collection, including the selections from the archives that are digital and available online. Like and share posts on UNO Libraries' social media channels. Schedule a tour of the archives. You are invited to contact us for more information about making a financial contribution to support LGBTQIA+ archival collections in UNO Libraries, donating historical records and other material, or to learn about other ways to support preservation and access for LGBTQIA+ collections. Contact Director of Archives and Special Collections Amy Schindler (402.554.6046, firstname.lastname@example.org).
How do I make a financial donation to the archives?
Financial contributions support various activities such as recording oral history interviews with community members, employing UNO students who are eager to work in the archives, public programming, and other preservation and access projects. Contact Director of Archives and Special Collections Amy Schindler (402.554.6046, email@example.com) in UNO Libraries or make a gift directly to the Queer Omaha Archives Fund through the University of Nebraska Foundation.
What historical records does the archives accept?
The archives collects, preserves, and makes available to the public material documenting the diverse LGBTQIA2S+ people and organizations of Omaha and Nebraska. Example material the repository accepts includes:
- Diaries & journals
- Meeting minutes
- Newsletters and magazines - The archives seeks Omaha, Nebraska, and western Iowa publications. The publications we are specifically in search of include: The Buzz (1990s), River City Beat (1990s), Times of the Heartland (1990s), Stepping Out (2000s), GAIN (1977-1979), Metropolitan Community Church of Omaha Newsletter (1970s-ongoing), LLL (Lincoln Legion of Lesbians) Newsletter, Omaha gay bowling league's The Big Ball News (1980s), and others.
- Posters & flyers
- Protest signs
- Audio recordings
- Business records
- Oral history interviews
- Ephemera such as tickets, programs, etc.
- Selected memorabilia such as buttons, t-shirts, etc.
Selected English-language books will also be considered as a donation to the repository to continue to build the over 3,000 books in the Queer Omaha Archives special collection.
In some cases, the archives may wish to photograph or scan an item, but not accept the object itself for permanent preservation in the archives. All donors are required to sign a donation agreement with the repository.
History of the Queer Omaha Archives
UNO's LGBTQIA+ archive was launched after the October 2015 visit to campus by Josh Burford. Burford's talks about queering history and starting an LGBTQ+ archives project during LGBTQ+ History Month mobilized an interested group of UNO students, faculty, and staff. A meeting of UNO students and employees and community members organized by Dr. Jessi Hitchins at UNO's Criss Library in November 2015 directly led to the launch of the Queer Omaha Archives with Amy Schindler, Director of Archives and Special Collections. Attendees selected a name for the collecting initiative, identified potential donors and collaborators, and identified potential initiatives such as an oral history project and public events for the archives.
A celebration to mark the official beginning of the Queer Omaha Archives was held on July 13, 2016, in UNO Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections. Over 80 community members attended. The evening included a display of historical material available from the Terry Sweeney & Pat Phalen Papers and the University Archives, the first material collected for the Queer Omaha Archives. The first financial contribution to the Queer Omaha Archives Fund was made during the event by Dean David Richards.
During the fall 2016 semester, Dr. Jay Irwin's Sociology 3700: Introduction to LGBT Studies students conducted oral history interviews with community members as part of their coursework. These interviews were intentionally collected for the archives and were transferred to the archives at the end of the semester. Dr. Irwin also conducted oral history interviews with Emeritus Dean Shelton Hendricks and Emeritus Professor Meredith Bacon in 2016 for the archives.
Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of Omaha donated its historical records to the repository in January 2017. Chartered in January 1974, MCC Omaha was the first church in Omaha with positive ministry to the LGBTQ+ community.
Items from the Queer Omaha Archives were loaned to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art for exhibit in February-April 2017 alongside Cassils’ live performances and installations (a “Critics’ Pick” in Artforum). Archivist Amy Schindler also participated in Cassils’ “Monument Push” where she shared information about the first Pride Parade in Omaha as one of the selected sites of resistance and violence (Cassils Monument Push Catalogue, Alex Priest, April 29, 2017).
In August 2017, the Queer Omaha Archives announced that UNO Libraries received a $2,000 grant from Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The project included a free oral history workshop led by Jane Rogers for the public and the collection of 20 oral history interviews by Luke Wegener. UNO Libraries provided matching funds from the Queer Omaha Archives Fund (established with the University of Nebraska Foundation). A matching grant was received from the library’s Eugene S. and Sunny M. Thomas Endowed Fund for Innovation. The first batch of oral history interviews was published and officially made available to the public in June 2018.
In September 2018, a second grant to support the creation of oral history interviews and hold a community workshop was applied for and received from Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment followed by a second award from the Eugene S. and Sunny M. Thomas Endowed Fund for Innovation. Oral history interviews are available online and in Archives and Special Collections.
Archivists regularly curate exhibits using material from the Queer Omaha Archives including marking the 30th anniversary of the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 2017. Items from the collection have been loaned for exhibits at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha Public Library, and other cultural heritage repositories. Archivists also participate in community events with pop-up displays and information about Nebraska’s only LGBTQ+ archive. Presentations, tours, and community service days have been created for a number of employee resource groups from Omaha companies. Archivists and librarians have given presentations and written about the Queer Omaha Archives in a number of professional outlets including NCompass Live, the Nebraska Library Association, Brick & Click, and others.
Selected Queer Omaha Archives in the News
- UNO Archives Preserve Queer History to Make Future More Inclusive, June 11, 2020
- UNO receives Humanities Nebraska grant and will present an oral history workshop, September 2017
- UNO shines spotlight on Omaha's LGBTQ history, WOWT, 23 June 2017
- Queer Omaha Archives Material on Loan to Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Cassils: Phantom Revenant, February-April 2017
- Church Donates Records to UNO LGBTQ Archive, January 2017