Digitized Archives Bridge the Generation Gap in LGBT Studies | Alexander Street

Digitized Archives Bridge the Generation Gap in LGBT Studies

June 23, 2015

(Alexandria, VA)-- In spite of the generation gap in LGBT studies, students are discovering the roots of LGBT activism thanks to the growing availability of digitized archives on university campuses. With the release of online archival collections like Alexander Street's LGBT Thought and Culture, librarians can connect young students to LGBT thought in the 1960s and earlier.

A 'gay generation gap' has long been noticed in research on LGBT communities. In the article, "The Gay Generation Gap: Communicating Across the LGBT Generational Divide," co-authors Glenda M. Russell, Ph.D. and Janis S. Bohan, Ph.D. write: "LGBT interactions tend to be age-segregated... This segregation can be magnified by stereotypes each group may hold about the other: older LGBT people often see youth as too radical, and LGBT youth often regard their elders as out of touch." (Angles 8, no. 1 (2005): 1-8.)

The digitization of LGBT ephemera has become a source of revitalization for the discourse between the two groups. By leveraging collections like Alexander Street's LGBT Thought and Culture, libraries are set to bridge the generation gap by exposing students to the history of the LGBT movement through primary sources that convey the experience firsthand.

One such primary source featured in LGBT Thought and Culture is a series of LGBT travel guides named the Damron Guides, which were established in 1964 and are still in production today. By comparing the well-publicized contemporary versions with the digitized copies from the 1960s, students can understand the covert necessities of an earlier LGBT generation.

"With this product, we want to preserve resources like the Damron Guides for a new vanguard of LGBT studies," says Nathalie Duval, Director of New Product Development at Alexander Street, who recently added a significant update to the LGBT Thought and Culture online database. "We want to help librarians pass on the legacy of pioneers in the LGBT community to the present generation."

The update to LGBT Thought and Culture brings the database up to almost 120,000 pages of text and 6,500 archived items, including ephemera, legal documents, photographs, and more, licensed from such partners as the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC and the Kinsey Institute. The digitized archive contains research materials about many of the top figures in LGBT history, including Magnus Hirschfeld, Radclyffe Hall, Jeanne Cordova, Pat Rocco, and Tracy Baim.

Alexander Street's LGBT Thought and Culture is available to libraries worldwide via annual subscription or perpetual license. Libraries may also trial the collection free for thirty days. For more information, visit: alexanderstreet.com/products/lgbt-thought-and-culture.


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