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LGBTQ Center

Vassar College

What is the Vassar LGBTQ Oral History Project?

The Vassar LGBTQ Oral History Project was a partnership between the LGBTQ Center, the Women’s Studies Program, and the Vassar College Archives that began in the fall of 2012 under the Director at that time, Judy Jarvis. The goal of the project was to capture the experiences, stories, and reflections of LGBTQ and ally alums as well as former and current LGBTQA staff members. LGBTQ Center staff, faculty, alums, archivists, and students recognize the need to expand Vassar’s LGBTQ holdings as a way to document our LGBTQ history for both posterity and for current and future students to use in their academic research. The LGBTQ Center director and student research assistants were trained in oral history methods by local non-profit Sound and Story and conducted 90-minute to three-hour interviews with interested Vassar LGBTQ community members.

In the summer of 2013, the Vassar College LGBTQ Oral History Project received funding from the Vassar Social Justice and Inclusion Fund to do a two-week pilot. Naimah Petigny '14, Logan Keane '15, and Judy Jarvis '07 interviewed 10 people, including alums and current and former employees. The team also transcribed 7 of the interviews and created a plan for the next academic year and beyond.

It is the hope of the project that students and other researchers will use theses oral history narratives as sources for individual or collaborative research. As a guide through the rich LGBTQ history of Vassar College, these oral histories are first-person accounts of life at Vassar over the past 50 years!

How can I access audio and/or transcripts from the interviews?

As of April 2014, the Vassar LGBTQ Oral History Project Team had conducted 13 interviews, in addition to the 6 oral histories gathered as part of the Women’s Studies 219 class, Queering the Archive. Some of these interviews are available at the link below.

To see what is available, visit Vassar College Library Oral History Collection.

Additional Vassar College LGBTQ archival material can be found in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Lives Manuscript Collection, 1990-2002, housed in the Archives & Special Collections Library.

What can I use interview audio and transcripts for?

Anyone is welcome to access any of the audio and transcripts posted online to learn more about LGBTQ stories and/or for research. Just make sure you cite your source!

Some materials gathered as part of the Project are only available in the Library, as per the request of the interviewee. To learn more about what other LGBTQ oral history materials are available in the Library, contact the Vassar College Archivist.

How can I get involved?

If you are interested in being interviewed for the project, please contact the LGBTQ Center. We may not be able to interview everyone immediately, but it would be wonderful to add you to our list of interested interviewees.