Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times


Documenting Rebellions: A Study of Four Lesbian and Gay Archives in Queer Times



Litwin Books

publication year



Documenting Rebellions is a study of four archives that were constituted with a common desire to preserve the memory and evidence of lesbian and gay people. They are The Lesbian Herstory Archives (New York), The ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles), the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives (West Hollywood), and the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives (Toronto). Using a narrative approach that draws from first-person accounts and archival research, each chapter tells a story about how these organizations came to exist, who has supported them over time, and how they have survived for more than forty years. This book is the result of a five-year project that began in 2012 and builds on the author’s own experience working with lesbian and gay archives. In Documenting Rebellions, Sheffield places lesbian and gay archives in the context of changing political opportunity structures that have afforded a liberal lesbian and gay rights movement some successes while continuing to marginalize intersectional, queer and trans people. The goal of this study is not to critique these organizations, but to show how this cohort of community archives has been affected by the very same combination of socio-political and economic factors that shape the cultural histories that they preserve. Documenting Rebellions consider the material needs of archives – space, money, and expertise – that are sometimes rendered invisible by the idiosyncratically subjective cultural theory model of ‘the archive’ that has emerged from within interdisciplinary studies. By tracing the emergence and development of these organizations, Sheffield uncovers representational politics, institutional pluralism, generational divides, shifting national politics, interpersonal relationships, and challenges with sustainability, both financial and otherwise.

education level





Katie Arthur

was created by

Sheffield, Rebecka Taves

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