Repository Project Update: CLAGSNews Archive

Here is the second of a three-part series of repository updates at the GC Library during my time here as the Repository Project Curator.

CLAGSNews Archive

The goal of the CLAGSNews archival project is to digitize the CLAGSNews archive and make it freely available to any member of the public, anywhere in the world, through the CUNY Academic Works repository. The Library currently features an exhibition of the print version of CLAGSNews mounted in library display cases, and it’s rich with additional information about CLAGS and CLAGSNews. But in lifting the CLAGSNews literally off the page and onto our servers, we take the archive from its origins here at the GC library into the homes of researchers across the globe. CLAGS, The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, started in 1991 at CUNY as the first university based center dedicated to studying issues concerning the queer community. Since the fall of 1992, CLAGS distributed the CLAGSNews newsletter about events, new staff, fellows, community engagement, and other matters of membership as it relates to LGBTQ life and subjects in academia. CLAGSNews also holds groundbreaking and never before seen original scholarship.

While sifting through the entire run of CLAGSNews, I’ve learned how the organization grew, paralleling the expansion of the newsletter’s length and in depth coverage. Authors with small mentions in the early years go on to become huge contributors to both the newsletter, the Center, and the LGBTQ community as a whole. Tracking the flow of authors and newsletter themes is akin to tracking the evolution of the queer community. The public distribution through open access of this archival material is an essential component of deeply and thoughtfully sharing LGBTQ history, New York City history, AIDS activist history, and CUNY history. Another beautiful thing is that this archive will continue to grow and to build on itself for as long as CLAGS is in existence. 

Above are screenshots of the digital CLAGSNews archive from 2013 and 2001. The design and layout changed greatly over the years, which speaks to how technological developments have changed communications for identified communities.

We are in the process of reaching out to (over one hundred) CLAGSNews authors to get permissions to feature their work on CUNY Academic Works, where the newsletters will exist in their own collection, much like the Women’s Studies Quarterly collection. It’s been heartening to hear support from some of the authors that have already submitted to Academic Works! These articles will be great resources for people, both inside and outside the academic community, as well as inside and outside the queer community. 

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