UMN Tretter Collection finds national recognition

The archive of LGBT history is one of the most detailed and diverse of its kind.

Maraya King

In a corner space 84 feet beneath Andersen Library lies the University of Minnesota’s LGBT studies archival collection, the recent recipient of a national diversity award.

The University’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies won the Diversity Award for its extensive record of LGBT materials and community-based efforts.

“The project is deserving of the award because of its significant commitment to the marginalized voices of those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender,” said Andrea Jenkins, who leads the Collection’s Transgender Oral History Project.

It is not enough to only represent the transgender community, but also the diversity in ethnicities, age and geographic location, Jenkins said.

The Transgender Oral History Project is just one aspect of many that led to the Tretter Collection winning the award, said Lisa Vecoli, curator of the Tretter Collection.

“We are deserving of the award because of the priority we have given the LGBT community and the effectiveness in which we have demonstrated their voices,” Vecoli said.

The principles of archiving are to collect and make it accessible to the public, said Nancy Beaumont, executive director of the Society of American Archivists, which gave the award.

The Tretter Collection houses over 3,500 linear feet of material available to the public and has a more community-based approach than other archival collections in the nation, Beaumont said.

The collection started in 2000 when much of the documentation was solely based on gay, white men, Vecoli said, adding that LGBT records of marginalized communities were not as readily available.

Since taking over the collection in 2012, Vecoli said she has “prioritized bringing in diverse voices and filling in the gaps.”