E. H. Butler Library's Archives and Special Collections and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center are collaborating on a series of exhibitions this semester that feature collections from the Madeline Davis LGBTQ+ Archive. The first exhibition is a series of newspapers from the Fifth Freedom periodical. Visit the collection in the display cases on the third floor of the Campbell Student Union, on view through February 18, or access the digital archive through the Digital Commons. Stop by anytime the Student Union is open. Also, visit the Archives in Butler Library 218 and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center in Campbell Student Union 105G.
February 18–March 25: LGBTQ Pins
March 25–April 22: Pride/Political Posters/Gay Rights T-shirt Collection
April 22–May 10: Gender Expressions: Charles Gustina prints, Tangarra, Radical Faeries Photographs
The Fifth Freedom
The Fifth Freedom was a periodic free newspaper of the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier, Western New York's most prominent early gay rights organization. As the official written mouthpiece of the region's first systematic gay rights organization, the Fifth Freedom expressed the earliest codified and widely distributed literature of the gay community within the region. Covering the time frame 1970–1983, the Fifth Freedom necessarily comments not only on the self-expression of a largely "invisible" self-identified group in the years that followed the Stonewall riots and preceded the onset of the more well-known AIDS epidemic, but also on Western New York and American culture overall. The newspaper content and editorial direction chronicle and critique a unique time in both American and worldwide history, as seen and expressed by an active though under-documented population.
Scholars now have universal online access to this seminal civil rights–centric material through the Digital Commons.
The Madeline Davis LGBTQ+ Archive of Western New York
In 2001, noted gay rights activist Madeline Davis founded the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Archives of Western New York as a way to collect, safeguard, and provide access to materials that document the LGBTQ+ communities of Western New York and Southern Ontario.
In 2009, the archives were transferred to Buffalo State’s E. H. Butler Library. Housed in the Archives and Special Collections, the archives have expanded to more than 300 linear feet of items and have become the region’s largest LGBTQ+ collection. More than 80 individuals, groups, and diverse organizations are represented in the tens of thousands of documents and items that include photographs, local organizational records, multimedia materials, pamphlets, posters, clippings, awards, signs, banners, plaques, and published materials as well as an array of ephemeral items and other pieces that date back to the 1920s.
The Buffalo State Madeline Davis LGBTQ+ Archives is actively soliciting donations of materials and further support. As Madeline Davis herself has said, “Our community has a past, but no history.” The presence and continued growth of the many collections in the Archives help to ensure that our shared history will only grow in scope and importance. Any contributions to the collections will help fill in historical gaps, ensuring that we have a past, a history, and a future.
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