Scattered Records of a Community Organization
Anywhere City has had an active LGBT community for many years, with multiple organizations of varying purposes and sizes. Some organizations were formed to address a particular issue, and disbanded once that activity was completed. Some organizations have existed for some time despite being run out of the living rooms of leaders over the years. Many have not always – or ever – had good recordkeeping practices.
The local history collection at the Anywhere City Public Library has begun to collect records of these organizations. When the organizations are still active and have established administrative routines, acquiring and describing the records is a fairly straightforward task. But for those organizations that have ceased to exist or that have endured periods of poor recordkeeping practices, records can be found scattered among the collections many individuals. Past leaders of some of the older organizations are including their own files from those organizations in their donations of personal papers. Activists have meticulously saved mailings from many organizations, and are donating those materials to the library.
Understanding the history of these organizations requires searching through many collections of papers from activist leaders and community members. The archivist in charge of describing and providing access to this important material is struggling to find a way to help researchers understand the history of the community while respecting the provenance of the collections as they exist.