The gay archival impulse: the founding of the Gerber/Hart library and archives in Chicago

Aiden M Bettine, Lindsay Mattock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – This paper aims to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the concept of community archives, offering a critique of the community archives discourse through a historical case study focused on the origins of the Gerber/Hart LGBTQ library and archives in Chicago.
Design/methodology/approach – This study explores the archival collections of the founders of the Gerber/Hart library and archives and the librarians that have worked there as a means for understanding the origins of the archival impulse, the rationale for building the collections and the practices that shaped the collections during the first decade of the organization’s history.
Findings – The historical analysis of the Gerber/Hart library and archives situates community archives and LGBTQ collections within the broader historical context that lead to the founding of the organization and reveals deep connections to the information professions not previously considered by those studying community archives.
Originality/value – The paper offers a reconceptualization of community archives as archival projects initiated, controlled and maintained by the members of a self-defined community. The authors emphasize the role of the archival impulse or the historical origins of the collection and the necessity for full-community control, setting clear boundaries between community archives and other participatory archival models that engage the community.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Knowledge, Memory and Communication
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Libraries
  • Community Archives
  • Archival history
  • Archival Impulse
  • Archives
  • Autonomous collections
  • LGBTQ+ collections


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