Collecting and Sharing Ohio’s LGBTQ History
Posted April 1, 2017
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Collecting and Sharing Ohio’s LGBTQ History

Eric Feingold, History Curator

Ohio History Connection

In the February Gay Ohio History Initiative (GOHI) column, you read about GOHI’s roots and the ways in which it can serve local communities. Last month’s column previewed an upcoming discussion at the Ohio History Center with Dr. Karen McClintock, author of My Father’s Closet. This month, we want to introduce Eric Feingold, curator of the GOHI collection, and share some more information about the collection itself.

Eric first became interested in working with objects as an undergraduate anthropology student. After spending his first year pursuing a career in historical archaeology, he shifted his focus to working with objects in American history museums. After working in several museums, he attended graduate school in central New York. He earned a Master’s degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York. While there, he worked with collections and exhibits at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Fenimore Art Museum, and the New York State Historical Association.

Then, in 2015, Eric joined the Ohio History Connection as a History Curator. In this role, he preserves Ohio’s historical objects, helps people conduct research with our collections, and shares Ohio’s rich history through exhibits and educational programs.

Our History collection contains everything from automobiles to quilts. With such a vast collection, we have several object curators on staff, each of whom works with specific “collecting areas,” or specialties.

As part of GOHI, LGBTQ history is one of Eric’s collecting areas. The GOHI collection features many archival materials, museum objects, and printed materials. Highlights include organizational records for Stonewall Union (now Stonewall Columbus), materials that document early Columbus Pride parades, and objects collected during celebrations the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry.

(Did we mention the collection also features back issues of Outlook?)

There is, however, still plenty of room for the GOHI collection to grow.

For instance, many pieces in the collection relate to Columbus. Though this reflects the city’s role as a center of LGBTQ life in the Midwest, the collection should include pieces related to other parts of Ohio. Our collections feature materials from all of Ohio’s 88 counties and, therefore, it is also important the GOHI collection reflects the history of rural LGBTQ Ohioans.

Along with expanding the geographic scope of GOHI, we are seeking items that relate to experiences of LGBTQ people of color, the transgender community, LGBTQ veterans, and pre-1970 LGBTQ history in Ohio. And, in what is one of the biggest gaps, we are very interested in collecting more physical objects. GOHI features a large amount of archival materials, but fewer objects related to Ohio’s LGBTQ history.

If you are not sure if your historical materials are a good fit for the GOHI collection, we encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss your interest in donating.

Though there is plenty of room for the GOHI collection to grow, we use our existing collection in a number of ways. In the last year alone, we installed two displays of LGBTQ materials at the Ohio History Center. One featured a sampling of archival materials and museum objects from the GOHI collection, while the other—on view at the museum until early Fall 2017—showcases pieces related to an early activist and drag performer from the Columbus area. And, even if collections pieces are not exhibited on the museum floor, they can be used for our educational programs or accessed by researchers after scheduling an appointment with a curator.

In the coming months, this column will highlight some GOHI collection pieces and their unique stories with you. From archival materials to museum objects, these items are important resources for helping all of us gain new insights into Ohio history.

If you are interested in learning more about the GOHI collection or donating materials related to LGBTQ history, please contact Eric Feingold at 614.298.2072 or [email protected].

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