OMAHA – The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Criss Library is set to become home to the metro area’s only archives dedicated to LGBTQIA culture.
Criss Library’s Archives and Special Collections, in partnership with UNO’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), is formally launching the Queer Omaha Archives with a public reception taking place Wednesday, July 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Criss Library.
“We are in the middle of a major social shift in this country and that is something we have a duty to document,” said Amy Schindler, director of UNO Archives and Special Collections. “Collections like this exist across the country and, as a metropolitan university, we asked ‘why not Omaha?’”
While the event is free and open to the public, the Criss Library is asking for people to RSVP in order to ensure enough space and refreshments for all attendees. Those interested can RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 402.554.6046.
The idea for the archive began with a visit to UNO by Josh Burford, who manages a similar archive at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The visit was sponsored by UNO’s GSRC. Before Burford’s visit, he approached Schindler about starting an LGBTQIA archive in Omaha.
Jessi Hitchins, director of the UNO GSRC, and Schindler met with community leaders and organizations, including River City Gender Alliance, Heartland Pride, the Queer Nebraska Youth Network and Queer Persons of Color.
The goal of the archive is to be a singular repository for queer history in the metro, with donations coming from people of all ages, races, sexualities and gender identities.
“Right now a lot of these great pieces of history are rotting away in someone’s attic and we want to be able to protect those items for future generations,” Hitchins said.
Currently the archive already contains several boxes of material donated by community members as well as UNO faculty, staff and students, but the hope is to grow the number into the hundreds over the next few years.
Both Schindler and Hitchins hope the archive can expand to document the experiences of all members of the community.
“We had a film studies class on campus just this past spring where students watched landmark queer films and then kept blogs about their views,” Hitchins explained. “Things like that will be included. We also want to expand to recorded oral histories and records of future service learning projects done by classes here at UNO.”
For UNO media requests, please contact:
Sam Petto, UNO Media Relations Coordinator
Charley Reed, UNO Associate Director of Media Relations
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