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Monday, June 30, 2014

ARCHIVES PRIDE: LGBT-Related Collections at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History

President Obama has proclaimed June 2014 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, and many cities and towns throughout the United States will celebrate LGBT Pride.  An outgrowth of the gay rights movement, the creation of Pride was sparked by the Stonewall riots in June 1969.  The first Pride parade was held in New York City in June 1970.

Promotional advertisement for DC Cowboys with photographs by Julian Vankim, 1994-2012: front and verso shown.
From the DC Cowboys Dance Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Smithsonian secretary Wayne Clough, in his recent Message from the Secretary, stated in part, “We continue to strengthen our collections so that we may more fully present LBGT contributions to American history, art, science, and culture, and be a welcoming resource to scholars studying LGBT contributions to American society.”  The secretary ended his message affirming, “The LGBT story is an important part of the American experience, and the Smithsonian is committed to making sure that story is told.”

The Archives Center at the National Museum of American History is actively collecting records that tell those stories.  Recently the Archives Center received a donation of the DC Cowboys Dance Company Records, an all-male, gay, non-profit dance company based in Washington, D.C. that was active from 1994-2012. They performed nationally and internationally, "celebrating diversity through dance." Typical performance venues included: Pride Festivals, the Gay Rodeo circuit, and charity events for numerous local and national charities.  The Cowboys also performed on: NBC’s America's Got Talent (2008); Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games VII at Wrigley Field in Chicago (2006); The Sziget Festival, Budapest, Hungary (2009–2012); ITV’s Dales’ Great Getaway, London, England (2012), and RTE’s The Podge and Rodge show, Dublin, Ireland (2010).  The collection includes correspondence, advertisement, financial records, photographs, and ephemera.

The DC Cowboys Dance Records join over 68 cubic feet of LGBT-related collections currently held by the Archives Center.  The Archives Center’s growing LGBT collections include: The Shamrock Bar: Photographs and Interviews by Carol Burch-Brown; John-Manuel Andriote VICTORY DEFFERRED Collection; Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection; the Joan E. Biren Queer Film Museum Collection; and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Records.  For more information visit the Archives Center website. 

Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., Archives Specialist 
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

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