2008 Founding of The Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project
The Storytelling Project, Arizona’s first LGBTQ archives, was founded in 2008 by Jamie A. Lee with seed funding from the Alliance Fund of Southern Arizona to record and commemorate the voices, images, and memories of LGBTQ people living in the state of Arizona. As an oral history archives, the goal was to develop and build on the historical record of the diverse LGBTQ individuals and communities here in Arizona, capture memories of historical moments and movements, reveal our struggles, triumphs, healing, beliefs, as well as share knowledge today and in the future. The Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project exists today as the cornerstone collection and programmatic focus of the Arizona Queer Archives. Individual oral histories continue to be collected and included in this expanding project of the Arizona Queer Archives. Oral history training for community members is an ongoing way that communities can participate in building their own histories as part of the Arizona Queer Archives.
2009: Oral history workshops with interested community members were facilitated through Pan Left Productions.
2011: Founding of the Arizona Queer Archives
The Arizona Queer Archives was founded as both a physical and digital archives through the Institute for LGBT Studies with a designated archives space in the Institute’s Transitional Office Building on the University of Arizona campus. The Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project was digitally migrated into the newly established AQA. Storytelling in and for the archives became the AQA’s programmatic focus. The AQA’s Mission, Vision, and Collection Policies were developed at a community forum in Tucson to work in collaboration with the heterogeneous lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI), gender non-conforming, and Two Spirit communities throughout Arizona to identify, preserve, and make available records, papers, and ephemera of enduring (and endearing) value that document the distinct histories of these communities.
2013: Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s LGBT Community Center, signed their Deed of Gift to transfer a storage unit of materials for the AQA’s physical collection. Jamie A. Lee along with Lizeth Zepeda, Laura Hoffman, and Caitlin Lampman, archivists from the Arizona Historical Society, conducted a field appraisal at the large storage unit to prepare for its future move into custody.
2014: On 31 July 2014, Wingspan shut its doors unexpectedly. Jamie A. Lee cleared the Wingspan storage unit of all appraised materials before the unit was closed for good. Gender & Women’s Studies graduate student workers and City High School senior interns began processing and re-housing the physical collection right away.
2015: The AQA was awarded a project grant from the Alliance Fund of Southern Arizona to implement the Community Box Project. Building on the success of previous community engagement activities, this project helped individuals and organizations across southern Arizona to consider and preserve their own distinct personal histories. Through hands-on training workshops along with the distribution of ‘archival’ boxes, the Community Box Project placed the power of preserving our many complicated histories into the hands of the people who are living and breathing and making change in our communities. Jamie A. Lee facilitated hands-on workshops with Southern Arizona Senior Pride, PFLAG Tucson, and Tucson GLBT Chamber of Commerce. Currently archival boxes and stickers are still available. To schedule a hands-on workshop, please contact the AQA.
2015: The Arizona Queer Archives, with local support from artists/scholars/archivists Ken McAllister (Learning Games Initiative), Adela C. Licona (Professor, English & author of Zines in Third Space: Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric), and Lizeth Zepeda (Arizona Historical Society), hosted the 1010 History Hack as part of the Quistapp 1010 Event called a History Hackathon with their director, Sarah Prager.
2015: POP-UP Archives Event of the Arizona Queer Archives Featuring the Southwest Feminist Reunite Collection took place at four key locations along the Fourth Avenue Business District in Tucson to highlight the unmarked historical spaces where 1970’s lesbian feminists worked to make change in and for their distinct communities. Performances were based on oral histories conducted at the March 2013 40th Reunion of the Southwest Feminists Reunite Group.
2015: The AQA received P. Carl’s eyeglasses and began processing the collection.
2016: The Made For Flight Kite Collection, an arts-based project created by TC Tolbert and donated to the AQA, was first displayed at the Pima County Public Library and its branches throughout November and December for the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
February 2017: LGBTQ Affairs, University of Arizona, donated 15 Made For Flight kits that students had created for Transgender Remembrance.
June 2017: The AQA and Jennifer Bates, History Department intern, began working on archival research to create the Hallway of History through the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation for the new Center on 4th, the LGBTQI+ Youth Center. This work continues to be developed in collaboration with folks from the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and local community historians.
May 2017: Jamie A. Lee presented about the AQA and the importance of collecting and preserving our own stories at the Men’s Social Network.
Summer 2017: The AQA and Luis Muñoz, community volunteer, started the LGBTQ Veterans Oral History Project.
March 2017: Brenna Duffy, AQA intern, processed the Fly Away Zine Mobile Collection by scanning all of the covers of the physical zines and creating a finding aid. Digitized zine covers can be found in the AQA digital repository.
2018: AQA hosted and sponsored the “Jay” film premier at the Loft Cinema about Jay Kyle Petersen’s life. Jay Kyle Petersen’s oral histories from 2014 and 2016 represent the first Intersex-identified participant of the AQA. In YEAR, Jay donated his physical collection, which was the first individual collection to be accessioned and made accessible. Hope Herr-Cardillo processed his collection and established the collection’s finding aid as a conversational exchange between the archivist and the records creator (Jay).
2018-2019: Jamie A. Lee and the AQA participated as Producers for the KXCI LGBTQ+ Voices Amplified “In Our Own Voices” radio project.
Spring 2019: Xochitl Reyna, AQA intern, processed the Adela C. Licona Zine Collection and also created an online exhibit for it.
Spring 2019: Jana Kalnins, AQA intern, created an online exhibit featuring the Wingspan Collection.
Summer 2019: Annie Beguhl, PhD student from History, collected and processed the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance physical collection and then digitized materials for the AQA digital repository.
2021: The AQA and Special Collections of the University of Arizona continue to work on developing a shared stewardship process to transfer AQA’s physical collections into Special Collections and to form a distinct collecting area for LGBTQI histories throughout Arizona and the borderlands. Stay tuned!