AUSTIN, Texas — More than 60,000 digitized items and a new educational resource based on the papers of two LGBTQ pioneers are now online thanks to researchers at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
The Ransom Center houses the papers of British author Radclyffe Hall, author of the 1928 lesbian landmark novel, “The Well of Loneliness,” and partner, artist Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge. The archive includes notebooks, draft typescripts, correspondence, photographs and scrapbooks that document Hall’s career as a writer, Troubridge’s work as a sculptor and translator, and their personal and creative partnership. The archive offers insight into a broad range of subjects including gender identity, lesbianism and sexuality, spiritualism and religion, and sociopolitical movements spanning the two world wars.
“This project is an opportunity to observe a multidimensional perspective of what queer life looked like for people in the time they lived, which is indispensable for any researchers interested in the full breadth of queer history,” said Hall-Troubridge Librarian Alejandra Martinez, who led the project to digitize and make accessible thousands of images from the archive.
Martinez said the couple’s leanings toward fascism and other far-right ideologies complicate their legacy as groundbreaking queer writers today, and digitizing their papers offers an opportunity to shed light on the lives they led.
Using photographs, personal possessions, sound recordings and even motion picture stills, Pushcart Prize-nominee, writer and cartoonist Coyote Shook, a doctoral candidate in American studies at UT, worked with a team to create a companion online educational resource. The guides offer students and educators primary resources for the immersive study and teaching of LGBTQIA+ history and culture, human rights, censorship and free speech, social movements, and women’s and gender studies.
“The guides offer a rich array of historical documents for reconstructing complicated and historically nuanced LGBTQIA+ lives through archival materials,” Shook said. “This resource invites students to form their own hypotheses of how they would determine queer themes in a text and provide a ‘queer reading.’”
The project was supported by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The Ransom Center’s digital collections portal makes available more than 225,000 digital images and audio-visual recordings to a worldwide audience.