New Project to Archive Efforts of UM’s LGBTQ+ Student Organization

By Koichi Tasa, University Archivist

tasa_headshot_largeI am currently working for the first time to archive a collection of electronic records with my colleague Laura Capell, Head of Digital Production and Electronic Archivist. The commemorable organization of focus is UM’s undergraduate LBGTQ+ group SpectrUM. We will archive messages and e-flyers documenting their organizational efforts in support of UM’s lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer, and questioning community.

The collection was inspired by President Frenk’s December 2015 message on campus initiatives for inclusiveness towards LGBTQ+ students. I contacted SpectrUM to join their mailing list and have continued to save electronic records for the use of future students and researchers. We will make a decision shortly on how to provide access to the collection. For the time being, you can find more information on the collection in the finding aid.

SpectrUM's logo from their Facebook page

SpectrUM, organized in 1992, has expanded on the work of The Gay Alliance, which formed in the 1970s.

Working on this collection made me wonder about earlier gay and lesbian organizations at the University. Some historical information is available in The Miami Hurricane Archive Online. There I found an article from 1985 titled “Gay Student Seeks to Inform” by Sal O’Neill. O’Neill, who was a senior at that time, wrote about an earlier group called The Gay Alliance, formed in the early-to-mid 1970s. “The Alliance had weekly rap sessions in the Alliance’s office in the Student Union. They also sponsored regular dances at the Rathskeller which were open to the public,” he writes, also noting significant challenges– “fears of exposure and violence, and the apathy that any group must contend with”–that brought about its demise. In the 1980s, students could connect in an off-campus group called the Gay and Lesbian Youth Group, which offered “emotional support and social interaction to gay men and lesbians not available elsewhere up to the age of 25.”

The Lavender Celebration 2016 was sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Student Life, Toppel Career Center and Alumni Association.

The Lavender Celebration 2016 was sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Student Life, Toppel Career Center and Alumni Association to recognize the accomplishments of LGBTQ graduates of the U.

This was before SpectrUM, which was organized in 1992 (under the name Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Club). Its purpose is to foster pride through education, awareness, advocacy, and social events and to support all members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. It’s remarkable to see how far this mission has come, and we look forward to the opportunity of sharing its continuation with future students and researchers.

Stay tuned for announcements about future archival efforts. In an upcoming project in February 2017 we will work with groups such as the Black Alumni Society and United Black Students to curate a full exhibition at Richter Library on UM’s black students and faculty. The exhibition will coincide with the Black Alumni Society’s First Black Graduates Project. We look forward to collaborating with these and other campus organizations to honor their accomplishments.



Ask the Archivist: Question on University Seal Continues

We received another inquiry on the university seal, but today’s question was on the first seal of the U. I could tell right away the image the patron sent us was the first seal of the university, because we have already researched and identified the second and the third seal in last March!

*click here for the previous blog story on university seal

By researching our archival collection on UM seals, we found a document right away which gave the name of the designer and the dates it was used. With the name Hodsdon, I was able to find the February 4, 1944 article “Origin of Seal Now Revealed” in The Miami Hurricane Archive Online for the meaning of it. It is interesting the university ran a contest to pick the first seal.

This document in our archival collection on UM seals provided the name of the designer of the first seal

This document in our archival collection on UM seals provided the name of the designer of the first seal

MIami Hurricane, February 4, 1944 article "Origin of Seal Now Revealed"

MIami Hurricane, February 4, 1944 article “Origin of Seal Now Revealed”



Research assistance for the video “Tribute to President Foote”

Official portraits of the past five presidents, which are kept at the University Archives, are one of the most important historical materials of the University of Miami.

Official portraits of the past five presidents, which are kept at the University Archives, are one of the most important historical materials of the University of Miami.

The University Archives is proud to have provided research assistance and materials for the University Communications to create the compelling video “Tribute to President Foote.” Please go to the links below for the article and the video.

eVeritas article “Tad Foote Remembered”
Video “Tribute to President Foote” on Youtube

Two colleagues from the office visited us several times in April and spent hours to film our historical memorabilia, such as the Presidential Medal worn by the first four presidents and the official portrait of President Foote, as well as researched our vast collection of historical images for the project and for the Foote family, which are shown throughout the presentation.

We used to tell patrons until recently that research assistance for Foote and Shalala years was not possible, but that is not true anymore because of the newly processed “UM University Communications Collection” in approximately 130 linear feet. You can expect a wide variety of materials in the collection, such as images, video recordings, university publications, and press releases generated by the University Communications on 4,000 topics from the 1980s to the 2000s.

This massive collection is going to be as important as the UM Historical Photograph Collection and UM Office of the President Records for the University of Miami when our patrons will research for U’s centennial celebrations as well as anniversaries and celebrations at the schools and departments of the university. We would like to thank the colleagues of the University Communications, who trusted us and let us archive their invaluable materials.

The collection, donated in 75 large moving boxes in 2013, is now neatly organized by approximately 4.000 topics and housed in acid free archival folders and boxes.  Richter provides optimal environment for storage of our archival collections in the library as well as the offsite storage facility.

The collection, donated in 75 large moving boxes in 2013, is now neatly organized by approximately 4.000 topics and housed in acid free archival folders and boxes. Richter provides optimal environment for storage of our archival collections in the library as well as the offsite storage facility.