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Gerber Heart Library and Archives (Chicago, IL 60626-4097)
Lucas Alan McKeever (Project Director: May 2015 to January 2018)
Speaking Out: Preserving the LGBT History of the U.S. Midwest

A preservation assessment of the library and archives to provide recommendations for preservation priorities.  The collections encompass more than 925 cubic feet of archival material from over 150 sources, including works on paper, objects, photographs, as well as films and works of art that capture the legacy of LGBT communities in the Chicago metropolitan area and the wider region. These materials include collections from activists, writers, educators, politicians, and medical professionals documenting the culture and history of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. At present, the collection is used by researchers, authors, students, and scholars for publications, teaching, and public programming, including exhibitions both in-house and with other institutions, such as the Chicago History Museum and the University of Chicago.

Historical narratives of the LGBT community in the United States predominately focus on the coasts, specifically New York City and San Francisco. Despite this focus, the first gay rights organization to receive a state charter in the United States was the Society for Human Rights founded in 1924 by Henry Gerber in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago and the greater U.S. Midwest has a vibrant LGBT community with a history worth documenting, preserving, and sharing for generations to come. Gerber/Hart Library and Archives was founded in 1981 and has since grown into the largest LGBT library and archives of the Midwest. Utilizing NEH funding, Gerber/Hart's collection will undergo its first general preservation assessment conducted by the Northeast Document Conservation Center. The resulting report will equip Gerber/Hart staff with the tools necessary to ensure this history remains accessible to researchers for generations to come.

Project fields:
Cultural History; Gender Studies

Preservation Assistance Grants

Preservation and Access

$5,860 (approved)
$5,860 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 6/30/2017