Museum Launches LGBT Stories Collecting Project


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Gay rights leader and journalist Clark Polak distributing leaflets during a sit-in in 1965The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) in Philadelphia is launching “LGBT Stories: A Collecting Project,” a new website that focuses on Jewish Americans in the barrier-breaking movement for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights during the twentieth century and beyond.

“The courageous story of the LGBT civil rights movement is a vital part of America’s ongoing search for freedom and NMAJH is proud to celebrate and share this history – with the public’s active participation,” says Ivy Barsky, the Museum’s Chief Executive Officer and Gwen Goodman Director.

“LGBT Stories: A Collecting Project” invites LGBT Jewish American, their families, and allies to share their own stories about LGBT advocacy and activism. The Tumblr website makes it easy for individuals to post images of artifacts (such as buttons, banners, and signs from rallies or parades, movie tickets, photographs, ritual objects, personal writings, and other images), links to other websites, and stories. The Museum will also post images and stories from its own artifact collection.

With the help of Tumblr users, the site will span the early days of the “homophile” movement in the 1950s and 60s, through the post-Stonewall era in the 1970s, the 1980s and the AIDS pandemic, to the current marriage equality movement. This is an opportunity for the Museum and the public to work together to unearth little-known stories and to document and share history in a new, exciting way.

In 2015, NMAJH will participate in a citywide commemoration of the first “Annual Reminder,” a July 4, 1965 demonstration in support of gay and lesbian rights that took place in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The creativity and enthusiasm of many community partners, led by the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee under the leadership of Equality Forum and the William Way LGBT Community Center and its John J. Wilcox Archives and Library, will ensure a meaningful celebration of a brave early action in the struggle for LGBT rights and the great strides that have been made in the ensuing decades.

Photo: Gay rights leader and journalist Clark Polak distributing leaflets during a sit-in, 1965. Courtesy of the William Way Center‘s John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives 

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