New Collection At UW's American Heritage Center Focuses On LGBT Experience In American West

Jun 8, 2015

Credit American Heritage Center

The American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming is looking for submissions to its newest archive: “Out West in the Rockies,” which is chronicling the experiences of lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgendered people in the American West.

Rick Ewig is the Associate Director at the American Heritage Center. He says there are other archival institutions with a focus on LGBT people in other parts of the country.

"Most of those of course are based in large cities on the East and West Coasts. And so as far as collecting the more rural story of the LGBT community, that really has not been done much before," he says.

Eewig says that makes it important to give these people a voice.  And, he says, centering this collection in Laramie has special significance because of the history surrounding Matthew Shepard’s murder.

"Laramie has gained somewhat of a reputation of being anti-gay, which is of course completely untrue, but it’s there. And so we felt that by doing this new collecting area for LGBT it would help make the point that the university, that the community, that the state is not that way at all," says Ewig.

The center is looking for the correspondences, diaries, and photographs of LGBT people in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The first papers submitted to the archive are already available to the public.