Unveiling of the CLAGSNews Collection

This spring the Mina Rees Library and Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS) celebrated the unveiling of twenty years of CLAGSNews, its quarterly newsletter, in CUNY Academic Works. Currently there are 141 articles – written by about 90 authors – over a period of 21 years, 1992-2013. The articles cover a diverse array of queer academic and creative intellectual output, and more are expected to be added to the collection over time. There is significant potential for educational use, and integration into Queer Studies courses, to learn more about the field’s history and expansive growth, through this important primary source collection.

On April 1st, 2021, the Mina Rees Library and CLAGS held a Zoom gathering to showcase the collection. Hosted by Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, current Associate Dean at New York University’s Division of Libraries, the event featured presentations by people closely involved with the CLAGS organization and archival project. CLAGS Executive Director Justin T. Brown (LaGuardia Community College) represented the current goals and future plans, while Sarah Chinn (Hunter College) spoke about her recollections as the executive director from 2007-2011.

Three Graduate Center librarians spoke about their involvement with the collection, a project over two years in the making. Jill Cirasella, Associate Librarian for Scholarly Communication, provided an informative overview of CUNY Academic Works and related collections, as well as a description of the project’s trajectory. Elvis Bakaitis, current CLAGS board member and representative of the University LGBTQ Council, spoke about Thousands of Ghostly Sheaves, an exhibit they co-curated about the history of CLAGS at CUNY. I was the final librarian speaker, and discussed my multiple roles in the project: seeking permissions from CLAGSNews authors to include their work in the collection and uploading the articles to CUNY Academic Works.

While there are far too many fascinating articles to mention in this post I’d like to note a couple of my favorites. One is a 2000 piece by Jasbir Puar (Rutgers University) called Excerpt from (Same) Sex Tourism. In this article Puar describes the proliferation of tours, cruises, and other travel options geared specifically for LGBTQ folks and their families. Puar raises the salient point that many queers may end up enjoying more political and social freedom abroad on these corporate tours than in their own countries of residence. Another article is In Amerika They Call us Dykes: Lesbian Lives in the 1970s by former CLAGS Executive Director Sarah Chinn, recapping a 2010 CLAGS conference of the same name.

I would also like to acknowledge Polly Thistlethwaite, Sadie Rain Hope-Gund, Katherine Pradt, Emily Drabinski, Megan Wacha, Caroline Jedlicka, and Marybeth Coscia-Weiss for their important contributions to this project. I am thrilled to have played a part in this archiving of queer history at CUNY, and encourage you to begin exploring the collection.

About the Author

Kate Angell is an Adjunct Reference Librarian at The Graduate Center.