Philadelphia: Inside One of the Nation’s Largest Collections of LGBTQ History
From Billy Penn:
If they were stacked vertically, the LGBTQ artifacts at the William Way Community Center would stand 800 feet tall. That’s a tower nearly as tall as the Comcast Center, made up of hundreds of thousands of items like personal letters, artworks, t-shirts and buttons.
We’re talking flyers for drag shows from the early 2000s, diaries handwritten by the city’s public health officials during the AIDS epidemic, even a lifelike diorama of Woody’s, the famed Gayborhood bar.
The Wilcox Archives at William Way are nationally recognized as a powerhouse, according to director John Anderies, who said the collection is easily among the top 10 largest of its kind.
That is starting to change. The collection of queer history is growing in popularity, thanks to a 5-year-old push for a more organized operation. And on the horizon are continued improvements — including a total digitization of the archives.
No longer are the archives such a haphazard operation. Credit the William Penn Foundation for extending a $300,000 grant in 2014, which enabled the LGBTQ community center to hire two staffers — one full-time and one part-time — to get the collection under control.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.