The Queer Omaha Archives collects and preserves unique and rare materials about Omaha’s LGBTQIA+ history as part of the UNO Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections. Historical materials are shared with the public by archivists to boost Omaha’s LGBTQIA+ stories.
We welcome opportunities to share the material already in the archives with individuals and organizations and are actively seeking additional material for the archives. Contact us to arrange a tour or presentation, to discuss donating material, to make a financial contribution to support the Queer Omaha Archives, or to learn about other ways to support the Queer Omaha Archives.
Selections from the Queer Omaha Archives in the News
- UNO Archives Preserve Queer History to Make Future More Inclusive, June 11, 2020
- UNO receives Humanities Nebraska grant and will present an oral history workshop, September 2017
- UNO shines spotlight on Omaha's LGBTQ history, WOWT, 23 June 2017
- Queer Omaha Archives Material on Loan to Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Cassils: Phantom Revenant, February-April 2017
- Church Donates Records to UNO LGBTQ Archive, January 2017
- UNO's Queer Omaha Archives will document LGBTQIA+ culture, history, Omaha World Herald 8 July 2016
- UNO Library to House Omaha LGBTQIA Archives, UNO News Center (via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine) & AP Wire Service (example)
The History of the Queer Omaha Archives
UNO's LGBTQIA+ archive was launched after the October 2015 visit to campus by Josh Burford. Burford's talks about queering history and starting an LGBTQ+ archives project during LGBTQ+ History Month mobilized an interested group of UNO students, faculty, and staff. A meeting of UNO students and employees and community members organized by Dr. Jessi Hitchins at UNO's Criss Library in November 2015 directly led to the launch of the Queer Omaha Archives with Amy Schindler, Director of Archives and Special Collections. Attendees selected a name for the collecting initiative, identified potential donors and collaborators, and identified potential initiatives such as an oral history project and public events for the archives.
A celebration to mark the official beginning of the Queer Omaha Archives was held on July 13, 2016, in UNO Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections. Over 80 community members attended. The evening included a display of historical material available from the Terry Sweeney & Pat Phalen Papers and the University Archives, the first material collected for the Queer Omaha Archives. The first financial contribution to the Queer Omaha Archives Fund was made during the event by Dean David Richards.
During the fall 2016 semester, Dr. Jay Irwin's Sociology 3700: Introduction to LGBT Studies students conducted oral history interviews with community members as part of their coursework. These interviews were intentionally collected for the archives and were transferred to the archives at the end of the semester. Dr. Irwin also conducted oral history interviews with Emeritus Dean Shelton Hendricks and Emeritus Professor Meredith Bacon in 2016 for the archives.
Items from the Queer Omaha Archives were loaned to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art for exhibit in February-April 2017 alongside Cassils’ live performances and installations (a “Critics’ Pick” in Artforum). Archivist Amy Schindler also participated in Cassils’ “Monument Push” where she shared information about the first Pride Parade in Omaha as one of the selected sites of resistance and violence (Cassils Monument Push Catalogue, Alex Priest, April 29, 2017).
In August 2017, the Queer Omaha Archives announced that UNO Libraries received a $2,000 grant from Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The project included a free oral history workshop led by Jane Rogers for the public and the collection of 20 oral history interviews by Luke Wegener. UNO Libraries provided matching funds from the Queer Omaha Archives Fund (established with the University of Nebraska Foundation). A matching grant was received from the library’s Eugene S. and Sunny M. Thomas Endowed Fund for Innovation. The first batch of oral history interviews was officially made available to the public in June 2018.
In September 2018, a second grant to support the creation of oral history interviews and hold a community workshop was applied for and received from Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment followed by a second award from the Eugene S. and Sunny M. Thomas Endowed Fund for Innovation. Oral history interviews are available online and in Archives and Special Collections.
Archivists regularly curate exhibits using material from the Queer Omaha Archives including marking the 30th anniversary of the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 2017. Items from the collection have been loaned for exhibits at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha Public Library, and Salisbury University Library. Archivists also participate in community events with pop-up displays and information about Nebraska’s only LGBTQ+ archive. Presentations, talks, tours, and community service days have been created for a number of employee resource groups from Omaha companies.
Archivists and librarians have given presentations and written about the Queer Omaha Archives in a number of professional outlets including NCompass Live, the Nebraska Library Association, Brick & Click, and others.