Transgender project wins travel grant

$10,000 Headwaters award will ensure more inclusive collection of stories

Andrea Jenkins
Andrea Jenkins

A project intended to document the oral history of transgender individuals in the Upper Midwest received a funding boost recently, which will help project organizers interview more people from outside the Twin Cities.

The University of Minnesota Libraries’ Transgender Oral History Project (TOHP), with initial funding from Tawani Foundation, will collect up to 400 hours of oral history from 200 to 300 transgender people from the Upper Midwest. The collection will be housed in the Libraries’ Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at Elmer L. Andersen Library.

The latest grant, a $10,000 Headwaters Foundation for Justice award, will be used to fund travel throughout the Upper Midwest to ensure a more diverse, inclusive, and representative collection of life stories for the project.

Grant will help ensure broad range of experiences

“This project is garnering significant attention from members within the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming community and the broader population as well,” said Andrea Jenkins, who is leading the TOHP at the Libraries. “TOHP is crucial to bringing trans* voices into the archive and the Headwaters support will allow us to reach out, travel, and include the broad range of experiences we need to do this well.”

The project goal is to shift the cultural narrative for Trans* identified people and to create heightened awareness and understanding in the broader community.

The project has two primary objectives:

  1. Document the historic and contemporary transgender experience in the Upper Midwest, not only to support the transgender community but also to provide a deeper store of materials for research and reflection.
  2. Make this history accessible to researchers worldwide and to the community at large. Access to full interviews, video and transcripts will be available to all researchers free of charge through the University of Minnesota’s Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies.

About the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies

The University’s Jean-Nicklaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies is a cultural repository with archival holdings, books, and ephemera representing some 58 languages. The collection includes more than 3,000 linear feet of material, including personal papers, organizational records, published material, film, music, textiles, and ephemera.

The majority of the current materials focuses on gay white men, so the addition of the transgender oral histories will increase significantly the variety, breadth, and depth of materials available for study by historians, scholars, and the public.

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