The records of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights (LGBT) organization, went public at a Feb. 8 reception at the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections of Kroch Library. But for most visitors, the materials will be available only on a Web site in what is the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections' largest online exhibit.
The exhibit is at http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/HRC/.
"We are incredibly excited to have the history of our organization archived at such a prestigious and world-class university as Cornell," said HRC President Joe Solomonese. "With the launch of this collection, a new generation of students will come to know the history of our struggle." At the unveiling, Solomonese delivered a speech about the importance of the collection and addressed audience questions on topics ranging from the military's LGBT policies to same-sex couples' rights as parents.
"We want people to know the history of the gay and lesbian movement, and we want people to know about the history of HRC," said Jacki Bennett of HRC. Lisa Newstrom, Law '08, added, "I think this collection will really illustrate what a crucial moment we are living in for equal rights in this country."
The unveiling was attended by scholars, students and local activists, including Ithaca LGBT Task Force co-chair Jason Hungerford. "I think having a collection like this is important to not only reflect on but also to be motivated to take action today," said Hungerford.
The HRC collection consists of 84 cubic feet of faxes, strategic-planning documents, press releases, posters, campaign buttons and other print records that were donated to Cornell by the HRC in 2004. Since then, library staff have been scanning, cataloging, indexing and otherwise preparing the collection to be made accessible to the public online.
The actual materials will be available to researchers and students at the Kroch Library. "It's exciting," said curator Brenda Marston. "We have someone doing research the first day we're open." That someone was Alfred University professor of history Vicki Eaklor, who said of her experience with the collection, "I'm very honored. One of the things that's very impressive here is how well organized the collection is. It has so much in it for any researcher interested in the LGBT movement."