A group committed to archiving LGBT history in North Texas is working with UNT to provide online access to the materials
David Taffet | Staff Writer
“We’ve all come out of the closet,” The Dallas Way board member Bruce Monroe said. “Now it’s time to go back in and clean it out again.”
LGBT members committed to the preservation of the community’s history created The Dallas Way two years ago, and the group is collecting memorabilia to send to the LGBT archives at University of North Texas. The items range from commemorative T-shirts to the minutes from the various organizations’ meetings and their newsletters.
On its website, The Dallas Way says its mission is to gather, store, organize and present the complete LGBT history of Dallas.
Members of the group have been looking for material, and no cranny escapes their search.
“One of our goals has been to get stuff out from under people’s beds,” The Dallas Way President Buddy Mullino said. “Now we have a safe place for it to go.”
Included in the material that will be sent to UNT are papers and other memorabilia that belonged to Bill Nelson, one of Resource Center’s founders, which his mother donated to the history group.
“Nieces and nephews who never knew Bill won’t appreciate the importance of these items, so she gave them to us,” Monroe said.
When the group isn’t scouring Dallas for LGBT memorabilia of historical significance, its raising money to assist UNT in the digitizing of the archives so it can be accessed online. William Waybourn, another of Resource Center’s founders, issued a $5,000 challenge grant for The Dallas Way to raise an additional $10,000.
Monroe said they have almost met the challenge and are looking for a little more money to push them over the top. Mullino said any donations to The Dallas Way are going directly into the digitization process.
Kay Wilkinson, a board member of The Dallas Way, said UNT library’s staff has been engaged with the group. UNT library officials have been attending The Dallas Way meetings since the organization was founded.
She said UNT’s commitment to amassing the collection of LGBT material from North Texas is “unprecedented.” They expect it to be the cornerstone of the school’s LGBT studies program.
“They’ve elevated it to a level of academic scholarship,” Wilkinson said.
The university’s resources and capacity to digitize photos and documents and make them available online prompted The Dallas Way to partner with them. Dreanna Belden, UNT libraries assistant dean for external relations, is excited about the partnership.
“All of The Dallas Way’s board members are so active and intertwined in the LGBT community,” she said. “This partnership will help us dramatically as we document the community.”
The Dallas Way is expecting to sign a long-term agreement with UNT to archive the materials, and the contract will be similar to the one between the university and Resource Center for the Phil Johnson collection.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 6, 2013.