Politics, Privacy, and Trust: Promoting Queer Collections in New England
“Historically our institution has avoided being “too political” as we promoted archival collections, which has meant that LGBTQ materials have not been made fully visible. While the political climate has changed, we still contend with the culture of privacy that drew many to live in Maine. Women could (and did) build lives together in rural communities without much fuss as long as they were good citizens and kept to themselves. Because of the code of keeping the personal behind closed doors, relationships remain veiled in the historical record. The challenge of telling these women’s stories is one that is worth the reward.”
Cathleen Miller serves as the Curator of the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England. Miller has worked as an archivist at numerous cultural institutions, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital, and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives in Philadelphia. She received her MLS from Drexel University and her MA in creative writing from Temple University.
The Maine Women Writers Collection is a permanently endowed special collection of published and unpublished literary, cultural, and social history sources by and about Maine women. Among its goals are to honor and celebrate the work of new, established, and historical women writers, as well as to foster archives-based scholarly work in women’s and gender studies.
Cathleen is part of the ‘Collecting and promoting LGBT history’ roundtable on day 3 of the conference