Special Collections is collaborating with the Department of History, the Ex Lapide Alumni Society (the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer alumni network at Virginia Tech), HokiePRIDE, and the LGBT Faculty/Staff Caucus in an oral history project that seeks to document the LGBTQ experience at Virginia Tech. The University Archives started the project at the request of the Ex Lapide Society.
Beginning in the fall of 2014, David Cline and the students in his oral history classes studied LGBTQ history and began collecting oral histories to document the history of LGBTQ life in the 20th century American South and specifically at Virginia Tech. Cline is Associate Director, Public History Program in the Virginia Tech Department of History. Megan Lee Myklegard of Ocala, Florida, a junior majoring in marketing management in the Pamplin College of Business, collected additional oral history interviews. Myklegard received an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Creativity and Innovation Grant to collect and transcribe nine interviews. The University Archives also conducted oral history interviews for the project.
A new web archive created in Omeka by Adrienne Serra, technical archivist for Special Collections, features full text and sound of the interviews, along with images, historical documents, and a timeline of significant events in the LGBTQ history of Virginia Tech http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/exhibits/show/vtlgbtq-history. The new site uses Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) to enhance access to the oral histories, providing a word-level search capability and allowing users to move from the interview index to the corresponding moment of the recorded interview online.
“Sharing Our Voices: A Celebration of the Virginia Tech LGBTQ Oral History Project” will include an exhibit of Special Collections materials and web launch on Saturday, October 10, 2015 on the first floor of Virginia Tech’s Newman Library. The exhibit will be open on Saturday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm and on Monday, October 12 from noon to 4:00 pm.
The exhibit will have two parts. Each of the eight screens in the multipurpose room will feature different materials related to the project or to the interviewees. The project’s web site and timeline will be on display so that users can explore the site. One screen will show a video of the 1986 AIDS Conference held at Virginia Tech. It’s Reigning Queens in Appalachia, a film by Carol Burch-Brown, Professor, Studio Art and Creative Technology in the School of Visual Arts, will be screened. The film includes audio clips and photographs from the Shamrock Bar, a gay bar in Bluefield, West Virginia. Megan Lee Myklegard prepared a short film to highlight the oral histories she did through her ACC grant. Luther Brice’s chemical magic show will be shown. Brice, also known as Merlin the Magician, won both the Wine and Sporn awards for excellence in teaching at Virginia Tech. Mark Weber’s (class of 1987) student slide show on transvestites will be on display. Images from campus groups, including HokiePRIDE, o-STEM, QPOC (Queer People of Color), and the LGBT Faculty/Staff Caucus will be highlighted on another screen.
The second part of exhibit will be in the skylight area of Special Collections and will feature books, art, and archival materials related to the LGBTQ experience or created by individuals who identify as LGBTQ. Laurel Rozema, Processing and Special Projects Archivist, and Anthony Wright, Resident Librarian curated the exhibit.
During the month of October, there will also be a special seating area outside the multipurpose room with screens where one might access the new LGBTQ timeline on the web site and other relevant materials. A selection of books from Newman Library will be available to read or check out. Books include Gregory Edward Allen’s Lambda Horizons Collection and winners of the Stonewall, Lambda Literary, and Rainbow List awards.
Refreshments will be served at the Saturday celebration. The event is free, and the public is welcome.