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New Member: The John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives of the William Way LGBT Community Center

The PACSCL Board of Directors recently accepted the membership application of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives of the William Way LGBT Community Center, welcoming the organization as its thirty-ninth member.

“Philadelphia has been a city of firsts in the struggle for equal rights for LGBT individuals, and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives has been instrumental in documenting these efforts.” observed PACSCL board chair Ronald Brashear (Science History Institute), in announcing the Board’s decision. Current PACSCL members, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Temple University, also have collections that complement those of the Archives.

“The John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives is Philadelphia’s most extensive collection of personal papers, organizational records, periodicals, audiovisual material, and ephemera documenting the rich history of the area’s LGBT community,” said John Anderies, Director of the Archives, whose mission is to collect, describe, interpret, and provide access to publications, personal papers, organizational and business records, audiovisual materials, and ephemera created by, dealing with, or of special interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. “Our collections include materials from around the world, but preference is given to items that document the lives of sexual minorities in Delaware, New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania.”

The Archives serves a broad range of users, including the LGBT community of Philadelphia and  the Delaware Valley, scholars/researchers from around the world, activists and artists, students from area K-12 schools, undergraduate and graduate students, teachers at area schools, local history researchers, journalists, writers, and documentarians, and William Way LGBT Community Center staff.

Topics represented in the collections include LGBT history and culture, generally; LGBT history in the City of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, specifically; the homophile and early LGBT rights movements; feminism and feminist organizations; and HIV/AIDS and its impact on the local LGBT community. The primary formats collected include manuscripts, printed texts, photographs, graphics, artifacts and objects, textiles, audiovisual materials, artworks, and born-digital materials. The time period of the collection ranges from the 1920s to present, with heaviest emphasis from the 1960s on. The collection is approximately 800 linear feet and growing.

The Archives makes use of ArchivesSpace as an archival management and access system ( https://wilcoxarchives.org/) and have recently launched an Islandora-based digital repository ( https://digital.wilcoxarchives.org/). The Archives mounts between 3-4 material exhibitions each year in the Archives Gallery located in the lobby of the Center. Its online exhibit, “Speaking Out For Equality,” is based on the groundbreaking exhibit the Archives mounted at the National Constitution Center in 2014-2015 ( https://sofe.wilcoxarchives.org/). A second traveling version of “Speaking Out For Equality” was mounted in collaboration with the Independence National Historical Park at the Liberty Bell Center during the summer of 2018.
The Archives are open to all by appointment during the general operating hours of the William Way LGBT Community Center ( Monday-Friday, 11 am – 10 pm; Saturday-Sunday, 12 pm – 5 pm).