ASU library collaborates with Phoenix Pride to demonstrate LGBT history

The Bj Bud Memorial archives show ranges of pieces that timeline LGBT history since the 1970s

A poster for Pride Week displays a peacock with a wide array of colors with the year of 1979. A metallic button states “We are Here.”

These are only a couple examples of the diverse collection that makes up the Bj Bud Memorial Archives.

ASU library partnered with Phoenix Pride to create a booth that displayed pieces of the collection on the first weekend of April for a Pride Festival. This summer the ASU library will also host a community event to help people understand how to preserve their history. 

Robert Spindler, ASU’s head archivist, said he has been involved with the collection since ASU negotiated the acquisition of it in 2004. 

“Basically, it’s a large body of ephemera and correspondence and photographs and newsletters of local organizations that were contributed by members of the LGBTQ community of Phoenix,” he said.

Spindler works for a statewide group of archivists who have been conducting studies that try to identify what the under-documented and underserved communities are in terms of archival records.

“The gay-lesbian community of Arizona is significantly under-documented, meaning that there are very few archival collections that tell the stories of this community and the story of the history of this community,” he said. “So when university librarian Sherrie Schmidt started negotiating to bring in the collection, I was very excited.”

Spindler said when ASU first started the negotiations, they identified the faculty and classes that would use the collection for instructional and research needs. (elaborate on which classes, faculty etc)

“It also represents an important opportunity for ASU to participate in the preservation of a broad and deep cultural heritage,” he said. “That’s one of the great things universities do.”

Spindler said ASU is very proud to have been part of the effort to preserve the material and make it accessible.

“We have had substantial interest of members of the community who want to donate additional materials or who want to come view our materials and remember their past here in Phoenix and in Arizona,” he said.

LGBT Archives from ASU Now on Vimeo.

Marshall Shore, “the Hip Historian,” is the project manager and said he considers himself a “middle-man” to make sure things happen such as creating a booth that displays the collection at Phoenix Pride at the beginning of April.

Shore said the Bj Bud collection is a collaboration among himself, Phoenix Pride and the ASU library.

“A while ago, ASU library got about 150 boxes from Bj Bud, who was a pioneering lesbian in the '70s here in the valley,” he said.

When the 307, a gay bar on Roosevelt Street dating back to possibly as far as the 1950s, was demolished, groups of the community started preserving their history, Shore said.

“So with the combination of ASU’s Bj Bud collection and Pride and this group of folks coming together saying we need to do this, that’s how the Arizona Gay-Lesbian history project was born,” he said.

Shore said the booth at Phoenix Pride had dozens of different images as well as a way to document a timeline of the LGBT community’s history. The booth also has the full collection of documents from the LGBT community during the 1970s and the 1980s. He also said anything earlier than that is oral history.

“What we’re doing now is looking at Arizona’s gay-lesbian history, which goes as far back as the indigenous folks that were here,” he said.

Shore moved to Arizona 17 years ago and said he kept being told there was no history in Arizona. So he would adventure around Arizona, and people told him stories. He said he kept adding to those stories and telling them to the people he met until he knew more about Arizona’s hometowns than most Arizonans.

Now, he has a personal archive of oral history that he documents on his website as the “Hip Historian.”

Nancy Godoy, an ASU librarian who specializes in archives and special collections, played a large part in preserving the Bj Bud Memorial archives and making it accessible to the ASU community.

Godoy said the collection was originally assembled by local LGBT activists and the Valley of the Sun Gay and Lesbian Center, which provided a safe place for the community.

“They sponsored and provided several health services, support groups and educational programs,” she said. “Additionally, they started a small library and archive that was accessible to anyone who wanted to learn more.”

Godoy said the ASU library has also created exhibits at several locations and online.

“This summer we’re hosting a workshop at Tempe Public Library that shows the community how to preserve their own history,” she said. The workshop will be on June 12 at 6 p.m.

“This collection preserves the history of a community who’s been marginalized in Arizona history,” she said.


Reach the reporter at anbuechl@asu.edu or follow @alexa_buechler on Twitter.

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