History Gallery 3

Mon, Mar 27, 2023

Jessie Durant

Jessie Durant - Archives Specialist

Queerstory: Preserving & Promoting the History of the LGBTQ+ Community

The work to recognize and preserve the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Santa Cruz that started with a donation from the Diversity Center’s Santa Cruz LGBTQ+ Trailblazers History Project back in 2014 is still going strong today. A generous preservation and accessibility grant from the California State Library made it possible for the MAH to digitize the entire collection and design exhibits and programs around the materials.

In applying for the grant, our goal was threefold: increase public access and availability; increase awareness of the collection and the stories it tells; and preserve the collection both physically and digitally. It seemed like the natural next step in the life of this collection. A collection that spurred an oral history project, an online exhibit (read more about the evolution of that exhibit here), and later a physical exhibit in our History Gallery. When we found out we received the grant we were elated! And then it was time to get to work. After all, there were over 1300 items in the collection that needed to be digitized, mostly in-house at the MAH.

20230322 Rebecca At Work

As we embarked on our first large-scale digitization project we started by evaluating and upgrading our Collection Management System (CMS) to ensure it could provide public access. Hours went into researching and writing procedure documents to create an efficient digitization workflow. With the help of The Humanities Institute at UCSC we hired a THI Fellow, Rebecca Snyder, to help with scanning and metadata entry.

20230322 Queerstory Boxes

Digitization is now in full swing. Every week new items are scanned and cataloged in the CMS. We are learning new things everyday as we work with the objects, hardware and software.

The design of the public access portal is underway and we are talking with our collaborators at the Diversity Center and members of the LGBTQ+ community to explore ways they can help provide valuable context and description of individual items.

With the expertise and creativity of our MAH staff in full force, planning has also begun for the various educational programs and public events that will highlight the stories of the Santa Cruz LGBTQ+ community and the work we are doing. We are very excited about an immersive history trunk that will be available to educators next school year. Keep an eye out for more information on this in the summer.

We look forward to continuing to bring awareness to this valuable part of Santa Cruz History. For more, visit the Queer Santa Cruz online exhibit anytime and stop by the museum to see the physical exhibit in the History Gallery. You can also find us at the Boardwalk for Pride day on May 6th and enjoy a family day at the MAH for Santa Cruz Pride on June 4th. We’d be delighted to chat about the project and the collection.

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