Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Special Collections LGBTQ+ collection

Last Updated: November 22, 2022

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic Needs

This collection supports the research needs of MSU faculty, students, and visiting scholars interested in the interdisciplinary aspects of gender and sexuality studies.

Special Collections is committed to collect material representing the diversity of the different communities and individuals associated with the LGBTQIA2S+ community, in order to help preserve, discover, and provide access to their history.

Collecting controversial material pertaining to gender and sexuality studies, such as sexually explicit content or non-affirming literature, is supported as a method for using primary source material in order to document historical shifts in the social construction of sexual and gender identities.

A primary focus of the collection is to document local and regional movements, organizations, as well as individual stories within the LGBTQIA2S+ communities. Examples include the Detroit Gay Liberator newspaper, the records of the Lansing Association for Human Rights, Lansing Area Lesbian/Gay Hotline, Lesbian Connection, Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Goldenrod Music, Camp Trans, as well as the personal papers of Lev Raphael, Marylin Frye, and Terri L. Jewell. At the same time, in order to understand some of the changes and issues affecting the ever evolving LGBTQIA2S+ communities, we aim to collect material that provides a snapshot of contemporary topics of relevance for individuals within the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

B. History of the Collection

Special Collections began collecting Gay and Lesbian material in the 1970s thanks to the leadership of bibliographer Anne E. Tracy. Since then, the collection has evolved to collect the individual voices of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

Early primary materials focused on the Gay Liberation Movement, which included literature, posters, and ephemera meant to complement the American Radicalism Collection.

During the 1980s-1990s, the focus of the collection expanded to include diversity issues within MSU. In order to ensure that people of diverse gender and sexualities were included in the discussion and policy making of the University, a task force was formed to examine the climate for LGBT faculty, students and staff. 1992, saw the publication of Moving Forward, a university-wide gay and lesbian task force report supported by the Office of the Provost. Thus, the MSU Libraries responded with a commitment to build and expand upon the existing LGBT materials housed in Special Collections. Some of the material collected during this time included rare books, popular culture, and archival materials. The timeline reflected in the collection also expanded to include material from the 1950s Homophile Movement, pulp fiction, periodicals, and comic books.

In 2018 the collection was renamed from GLBT to LGBTQ+ in order to reflect a more inclusive approach in the scope of the collection, incorporating more BIPOC voices, as well as overlooked gender and sexual identities.