Researchers from UofL are collecting material and stories that chronicle the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in Kentucky.

A research team led by Catherine Fosl, director of UofL’s Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, has collected material at two “History Harvest receptions” for the Kentucky LGBT Heritage Initiative. A third reception is scheduled for Jan. 31 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Williams-Nichols archives in UofL Ekstrom Library’s lower level.

“This project is part of a 2015-16 initiative promoted by the National Park Service and will make our state one of the first two in the nation to be designated an LGBT-Heritage state,” Fosl said. “ Doing so lays the groundwork for other historians and history buffs across Kentucky to learn more about LGBTQ history as an important part of Kentucky’s past, present and future.

The statewide effort, which included receptions in Hindman and Lexington, is particularly aimed at people and places that have been significant to the LGBTQ community before 1980.

UofL history students Wes Cunningham and Kayla Reddington are assisting Fosl.

Artifacts can be contributed or items can be scanned and returned to participants on the spot. Researchers are looking for historic posters, letters, newspaper articles, buttons, banners and other artifacts as well as personal stories.

“We are collecting memorabilia, documents and oral histories from LGBTQ Kentuckians and their friends who can help us understand more about 20th century life in Kentucky because there is a lot more to it than bullying, living in the closet or even struggling for social justice or for the right to marry,” Fosl said.

The Louisville event is co-sponsored by the Fairness Campaign and UofL’s LGBT Office. Other partners include the UofL LGBT Alumni Network, the UofL Archives and Special Collections, Kentucky Heritage Council, State Historic Preservation Office, National Park Service and Preservation Louisville.

“Preserving the history of the LGBT community in Kentucky is so important, especially since we have such a rich, amazing story to tell,” said Brian Buford, UofL’s assistant provost for diversity and director of the UofL LGBT Center. “And UofL is a big part of the story, since it played an important role throughout our history as a gathering place for those dedicated to fostering inclusion.”

Judy Hughes
Judy Hughes is a senior communications and marketing coordinator for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing and associate editor of UofL Magazine. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.