The Queer Omaha Archives was officially launched in 2016 and from the earliest conversations about starting the initiative at UNO, we knew we needed to collect oral history interviews. The first interviews consciously collected for the Queer Omaha Archives were possible because of the interest and work of UNO Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Jay Irwin.
Dr. Irwin's support for the initiative began with the decision to have students in his fall 2016 course "Introduction to LGBTQ Studies" collect oral history interviews as one of their assignments. He went to work gathering suggestions for folks who should be asked to add their stories to the archives through an interview and one of the suggestions was retired UNO psychology professor Dr. Shelton Hendricks. Upon contacting Dr. Hendricks in summer 2016 to ask if he would be willing to do an interview, Jay learned that Dr. Hendricks was in hospice and an interview in a few months during the fall semester would not be possible. Jay contacted me and made arrangements for us to visit Dr. Hendricks in his home for an interview on August 20, 2016. We were honored to spend time with Dr. Hendricks and members of his family and deeply appreciate the time they were willing to give us so an interview could be recorded. Dr. Hendricks died on August 22, 2016. Learn more about Dr. Hendricks.
During the fall semester, students in Dr. Irwin's course worked in pairs to conduct an oral history interview with a community member. Dr. Irwin had spent many hours contacting potential interviewees and assembling a diverse group of people. In all, 13 interviews with community members will be preserved and made available in the archives thanks to the work of Dr. Irwin and his sociology students. Dr. Irwin made further contributions to gathering community stories in fall 2016 by also sitting down with retired UNO Professor of Political Science Dr. Meredith Bacon.
UNO Libraries is working to make all of the interviews collected in 2016 as well as the interviews collected from fall 2017 through spring 2018 available to the public. Some interviews will be available online while others may only be available to listen to in UNO Libraries' Archives and Special Collections at the request of the narrator. As always, contact me to learn more.
Support Oral Histories
If you would like to support UNO Libraries in continuing to collect and provide access to oral history interviews of members of our local LGBTQIA+ communities, please consider making a donation to the Queer Omaha Archives or contact us to volunteer with the project. Are you interested in being interviewed or do you want to suggest someone whose story should be included in LGBTQ+ Voices: The Queer Omaha Archives Oral History Project? Contact Oral History Associate Luke Wegener (firstname.lastname@example.org, 402.554.2259) or Director of Archives and Special Collections Amy Schindler (email@example.com, 402.554.6046).
About Oral History and the Queer Omaha Archives
From the first conversations between students, faculty, community members, and archivists about creating the Queer Omaha Archives, there were plans to include an oral history component in the collecting initiative. Oral history has the ability to share the memories of people and communities who lived through those events with the present and future through the voices of people from our communities. LGBTQ+ Voices: The Queer Omaha Archives Oral History Project is currently collecting oral history interviews from members of the greater Omaha LGBTQ+ communities, sharing their wide-ranging experiences with their fellow Nebraskans and the world through the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Queer Omaha Archives website.
About the Queer Omaha Archives
The Queer Omaha Archives is part of UNO Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections and officially launched in 2016. The Queer Omaha Archives collects and preserves materials relevant to the LGBTQ+ community in the region. Archives and Special Collections' material is available for the university community and general public at both the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library and online.
Visit the Omaha Oral History Blogs to learn more.
Amy Schindler is Director of Archives and Special Collections in the UNO Libraries.
For more information about including events and announcements in the Criss Library News Center, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unless otherwise clearly stated, any views or opinions expressed as part of events, exhibitors, or presenters in the UNO Libraries (Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library and the KANEKO-UNO Library) should not be viewed as endorsements by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and do not reflect the official position of UNO or the University of Nebraska system.