The Rainbow Round Table (RRT), formerly the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. Founded in 1970 as the Task Force on Gay Liberation, it was the first gay and lesbian professional organization in the United States. In anticipation of the 50th anniversary celebration, the RRT embarked on a three-year project to collect, digitize, and make accessible documents and materials pertaining to the history of the Round Table as a digital archive.
In 2017, the Emerging Leaders defined the processes for the creation of a dedicated archive and oral history program to preserve the history of the Rainbow Round Table. These efforts included researching requirements and dependencies for establishing a digital oral history collection and aligning on a standard operating processes for interview and asset acquisition. The group continued to work with leadership to identify archival and oral history partners who could assist with digital production, interviewing and transcription support needs. They also collaborated with the GLBTRT Communications Committee to re-publicize the interest form that the team created for oral history interviews and archival donations.
The 2018 cohort of Emerging Leaders has built its contribution to the project upon the groundwork that was laid by the 2017 cohort. This addition to the digital archive project culminated in five oral histories with transcriptions, a platform for sharing oral histories, list of potential oral history subjects, a toolkit, a project report, and a poster to be presented at the ALA Annual Conference of 2018.
In 2019, the RRT formed an Ad hoc committee, the RainbowRT Archive Project, to pick up where the 2018 Emerging Leaders team left off. This committee expanded the number of oral histories, updated and maintained the website, and put together a campaign to publicize the archive project at the RRT Gala at the ALA Annual Conference of 2020.
In 2020, the group focused their efforts on collecting interviews and developed an oral history trailer and an on-site interview plan for the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these plans were placed on hold, and the group participated in a virtual demo through their 2020 poster presentation and trailer.
In 2021, a diversity content gap analysis was initiated to increase the scope and inclusion of RRT stories. The Stonewall Book Award Author collection was founded during this time, and the collection of author interviews is ongoing. The group also developed an initiative to migrate the existing oral history project to the ALA Archives with the support of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This work was completed in December 2021. The new online experience and Stonewall Book Award Author collection will be made available in early 2022.
RRT Emerging Leaders
2017: Fobazi Ettarh, Andrew Grissom, Lucas McKeever, Ariana Santiago, and Stewart Van Cleve
2018: Allison DeVito, Javier Garibay, Stephen Krueger, Jessica Thorlakson, and Katherine Van Arsdale
RRT Archive Ad Hoc Committee Members
2019-2020: Jessica Thorlakson (Chair), Hannah Bowser, Andrew Grissom, Lane Goldszer, Sarah Brewer, and Grete Miller
2020-2022: Grete Miller (Chair), Daniel Smith, Michael Dunbar-Rodney, Kelsey Socha, and Sarah Brewer
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