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Collection Policies


(updated as of 2012-07)

The mission of The History Project is to collect and preserve the history of Boston’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities, and to share that information with LGBTQ individuals, organizations, allies, and the public. Our collection development program reflects the diversity and distinctiveness of our community’s rich and unique history.


The History Project (THP) is New England’s largest and most venerable archives of LGBTQ-related materials. One of THP’s key archival objectives is to collect materials that document the organizational and activist history of several well-known groups based in Boston and Massachusetts. THP pays particular attention to the materials of grassroots activist organizations, as these types of groups often leave behind very little material evidence of their activities.

The History Project’s collection policy generally focuses on the acquisition of materials and information that can be subdivided into a few broad categories:


  • THP actively collects, preserves, and makes available records of Boston- and Massachusetts-area organizations that serve LGBTQ communities, often with a particular focus on grassroots organizations. Examples of early collection acquisitions include records of the Boston Chapter of the Mattachine Society, the Homophile Union of Boston, the Boston Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, and the Gay Speakers Bureau (currently known as SpeakOUT Boston) – all early examples of LGBTQ organizing in Boston. More recent acquisitions include the records of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, Project 10 East, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, the International Foundation for Gender Education, and Alternative Family Matters, among others.


  • THP also collects the records of Boston- and Massachusetts-based LGBTQ individuals. These collections typically serve to document an individual’s involvement in LGBTQ organizing and activism. Examples include the papers of Laura McMurry (who was involved in the Boston Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the OtherFund, and the Speakers Bureau), David Peterson (co-founder of Gay Community News and the Speakers Bureau), and Charley Shively (writer, historian, and co-founder of Fag Rag), among others.


  • THP maintains an extensive and ever-growing set of files corresponding to various LGBTQ-related subjects or topics. These files contain photographs, flyers and leaflets, invitations and announcements, newspaper clippings, research for THP publications and exhibitions, and other materials. Topics include: Political and health-related organizations or institutions; Social groups or organizations, such as: LGBTQ bars and clubs, athletic teams, social networking communities, and more; Individuals, including but not limited to leaders in the LGBTQ community and/or LGBTQ political figures; Events and demonstrations, such as Pride or AIDS marches.


  • THP’s collection of Boston-area LGBTQ publications is extensive and includes: Gay Community News, Esplanade, Hit Parade, The Guide, The Mirror, Tommy’s Connection, Focus, FAG RAG, Bay Windows, the Boston Reader, and more. 


  • THP actively seeks photographs that help tell the story of Boston and Massachusetts’ LGBTQ history. Some of THP’s notable photograph collections include: the photograph file from Gay Community News, photographs documenting Boston-area bars that served or serve the LGBTQ community, photographs documenting the history of the annual Pride celebration, and more.


  • THP’s collection includes numerous ephemeral items and historical artifacts relevant to LGBTQ history, with a particular emphasis on Boston and Massachusetts’ LGBTQ history. Ephemeral items and artifacts include: buttons, posters, t-shirts, matchbook covers, bar-specific ephemera, stained glass, etc.


  • THP records and provides access to the histories of LGBTQ community members whose lives have enriched our own. This collection of oral histories is both expansive and representative of the diversity of our community.


It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to establish policies and programs that address issues of the accessioning and deaccessioning of archival records and materials.

The History Project solicits donations of materials from individuals, organizations, social groups, and cultural institutions that serve or involve LGBTQ communities. THP does not purchase manuscripts or archival materials. 

THP welcomes unsolicited donations of materials; however, donors will be expected to complete a Donor Agreement Form.

With respect to historically significant materials that do not adhere to the provisions of this collection policy, The History Project attempts to ensure their preservation in an appropriate archival center, repository, or institution.

All donors to The History Project will be expected to complete a Donor Agreement Form; oral history participants will be expected to complete an Oral History Release Form. To obtain a copy of one or both of these forms, email info@historyproject.org or call 617.266.7733.


As we continue to develop as a community, The History Project’s collection will continue to reflect our collective struggles, triumphs, and perspectives. When notable gaps in our archives reveal themselves, this collection policy helps ensure that we provide a comprehensive representation of our community’s diverse and multi-layered history.