University Libraries partners with Arizona Queer Archives to preserve LGBTQI+ stories and history
University Libraries Special Collections has added a new collecting area dedicated to receiving materials for its growing LGBTQI+-related collections.

By Kenya Johnson, University Libraries
June 1, 2022


Leslie Carlson
This photo of Leslie Carlson, an active participant in second-wave feminism, women’s liberation movements and in the media during the 1970s in Tucson, is part if the “Southwest Feminist Reunite Group” collection in the Arizona Queer Archives.

The Arizona Queer Archives, the first archive in Arizona to capture the histories and stories of LGBTQI+ communities, has a new home in the University Libraries Special Collections at the University of Arizona.


Jamie Lee
Jamie Lee

In 2011, Jamie A. Lee, an associate professor in the School of Information in the UArizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, founded the Arizona Queer Archives as a community-based archive and ongoing research initiative through the UArizona Institute for LGBT Studies.

For years, Lee and Verónica Reyes-Escudero, the Katheryne B. Willock Head of Special Collections, talked about collaborating to preserve select collections from the archives. Special Collections, which is located next door to the Main Library on the university campus, provides students, faculty, staff and the public with access to unique archival materials for research.

Their conversations resulted in the new partnership, and Special Collection has added a new collecting area dedicated to receiving materials for its growing LGBTQI+-related collections.


Verónica Reyes-Escudero
Verónica Reyes-Escudero

"What's exciting about this collaboration is that it amplifies the university's and the library's commitment to inclusion and access by adding more LGBTQI+ voices," Reyes-Escudero said. "We’re extending our existing resources and including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) LGBTQI+ voices to reach across the university and across the entire region to make these archives accessible to everyone."

"LGTBQI+ histories are important, and explicitly naming a collecting area as 'queer' or 'LGBTQI+' is important for our community," said Lee, who will serve as the donor relations lead for the Arizona Queer Archives and serve as a consultant for new donations for the archives. "It's a win-win to partner with Special Collections to continue to grow the Arizona Queer Archives."

The Arizona Queer Archives includes files and records from Southern Arizona LGBTQI+ community organizations, as well as personal collections from members of the LGBTQI+ community. Among its holdings are the "Southwest Feminist Reunite Collection," a collection of oral histories and digitized photos spanning 40 years that celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Southwest Feminist Festival Retreat in 1973, and the "Made for Flight" kite collection honoring transgender people who have been murdered. Until now, the collection of physical materials and digitized content – which includes oral histories, images, self-published zines and scanned documents – was housed entirely at the Institute for LGBT Studies and online.

Lee will continue to train students and work with community members to collect and process collections. She also will steward the archive's digital oral history collection, including the Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project, which engages communities in collecting and archiving everyday stories of LGBTQI+ people through interviews. Archival laboratory spaces will continue to be maintained through Lee's research lab at the School of Information, at the Institute for LGBT Studies and at the Blacklidge Community Collective, a Tucson-based community space. Together, these efforts support helping people learn how to contribute to building the Arizona Queer Archives.

In addition to creating a shared, collaborative stewardship between institutional archives and community archives, the partnership highlights a cutting-edge approach in archival studies, Reyes-Escudero said.

"It takes a lot of trust building between a community archive like this and an academic archival organization like Special Collections to partner the way that we are," she said.

People affiliated with the university, along with members of the general public, can schedule appointments to use the Special Collections Reading Room to access archival materials for research.

"Anyone can contact us or come into our building, knowing that they'll be comfortable and that professionals are here to help them with this collection," Reyes-Escudero said. "Working with Arizona Queer Archives, we're able to build upon an existing solid structure that Special Collections brings to the table and amplify LGBTQI+ history."

Lee sees real benefits of the partnership as well.

"I am excited about this important relationship with Special Collections," she said. "Together, we are creating a new sort of collaboration so that all partners can realize their own strengths and call on each other's expertise. The faculty and staff at Special Collections care and want to see the Arizona Queer Archives continue to grow. This means a great deal for our local and Southern Arizona LGBTQI+ communities."

Extra info

Select Arizona Queer Archives collections moving to Special Collections

The Brian Bateman Collection 
Materials represent 20 years of Bateman's involvement in legal, political, spiritual and educational advocacy for the LGBTQ+ communities in Southern Arizona.

The Bruce Cole Collection
Materials represent Coleman's 30-plus years of research, community organizing and commitment to seeking justice, protection and representation for LGBTQ+ communities and members in Tucson and beyond.

The Wingspan Collection
Materials include organizational, community outreach and public service programming documents from Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s LGBTQI+ community center that operated from 1984-2013.

The Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA) papers
This collection includes records of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance related to the 2006 and 2007 Trans Awareness Week in Tucson, including details and calendars on events and workshops, participant feedback and news articles.

Visit the Special Collections FAQ to learn about the services available to support research. 


Resources for the media

Media contact(s)