Migrating Archives (Amsterdam, Netherlands – 2012)

Migrating Archives  (Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012)

In 2012, the Dutch LGBT archive organization IHLIA sponsored an international ALMS conference (Archives, Libraries, Museums and Special Collections) that took place at the beautiful Openbare Bibliotheek in Amsterdam. The focus of the conference was the future of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans histories. 100 representatives from organizations around the world met to exchange information, ideas and support: from Budapest, Milan, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Prague, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Taiwan, Lebanon, and many other cities.

In advance of the conference, I conducted outreach to all the archive organizations participating in the conference, inviting each to select two “delegate” archives representing two individuals commemorated in their collections. In all, 25 organizations responded by sending me images and texts for a display at the library representing 35 widely diverse individuals; it became a kind of portrait of both people and organizations. Some of the individuals represented are famous; others ordinary people whose artifacts ended up in a collection after they died. One or two are totally anonymous, still the historical fate of so many LGBT people. The delegate archives in the display formed a kind of collective portrait of people who could not be at the conference, people we want to remember.