, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 293-316
Date: 14 Mar 2013

Archivist as activist: lessons from three queer community archives in California

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California is home to multiple queer community archives created by community members outside of government, academic, and public archives. These archives are maintained by the communities and are important spaces not only for the preservation of records, but also as safe spaces to study, gather, and learn about the communities’ histories. This article describes the histories of three such queer community archives (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society Lavender Library, Archives, and Cultural Exchange of Sacramento, Inc.; and ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives) in order to discuss the role of activism in the community archives and implications for re-examining the role of activism to incorporate communities into the heart of archival professional work. By understanding the impetus for creating and maintaining queer community archives, archivists can use this knowledge to foster more reflective practices to be more inclusive in their archival practices through outreach, collaboration, and descriptive practices. This article extends our knowledge of community archives and provides evidence for the need to include communities in archival professional practice.