Arizona Queer Archives (AQA)

Visit the Arizona Queer Archives and its online collections at


The Arizona Queer Archives is the state of Arizona’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) archive being established through the Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona.  The Arizona Queer Archives uses and pulls the word queer into the way we will go about collecting, preserving, and making AQA collections accessible as we work closely with diverse LGBTQ communities throughout Arizona to develop an archive that is for, by, and about us.  We are challenging some of the traditional archival norms to make way for new and queer/ed structures of representation, storytelling, and meaning-making. We are developing an archive that will be much more than a rigid and dusty pillar of evidence for future generations to come.  We are developing an archive that will benefit us today as we collect many histories, stories, movements, and then work with communities to engage with our collections in new and creative ways.  We want an archive that is flexible and playful and one that is a living and breathing story of our lives.

VISION & MISSION  [draft version 002-11.18.13]

The Arizona Queer Archives of the Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona works in collaboration with the heterogeneous lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), gender non-conforming, and Two Spirit communities throughout Arizona to identify, preserve, and make available records, papers, and ephemera of enduring (and endearing) value that document the distinct histories of these communities. Its mission is twofold:

•  to collect and maintain individual stories, papers, photos, videos, oral histories, home movies, artwork, apparel, leathers, mapping/geographies, and other distinct multi-dimensional records that highlight lived insights and knowledges. Areas of collecting interest are specified in a separate Collection Development Policy.

•  to collect and maintain records and geographies of enduring value from organizations, community groups, safe spaces, and identified organizational efforts to support LGBTQ lives throughout Arizona.

The Arizona Queer Archives recognizes that the LGBTQ communities are diverse and heterogeneous and hold complicated, contradictory, as well as complementary histories that can all come together here as valid everyday knowledges and truths. The Arizona Queer Archives works to engage with communities to creatively collect, preserve, and share these many histories and memories.

COLLECTION POLICY  [draft version 002-11.18.13]

The Arizona Queer Archives of the Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona collects materials that are relevant to LGBTQ individuals, groups, and organizations that work to support LGBTQ lives. Items collected include stories, papers, records, ephemera, photos, videos, born-digital materials, and three-dimensional artifacts, such as art, crafts, and apparel.  

So as not to duplicate Arizona collecting efforts, the Arizona Queer Archives will share connections and select finding aids for other LGBTQ collections being preserved throughout Arizona. As a steward of and conduit for shared LGBTQ histories, the Arizona Queer Archives will work in cooperation with other collectors to assist researchers and community members in identifying collections as needed.


The Arizona Queer Archives is housed at the Institute for LGBT Studies office at 1731 E. 2nd Street, Room #205, on the University of Arizona campus.  For our physical collections, we currently have an air-controlled room with professional grade archive shelves and acid free boxes.  For our digital and virtual collections, we are developing an electronic media database, which will soon be open to the public, researchers, and communities by appointment.


Under the guidance of Dr. Susan Stryker, Jamie A. Lee is developing the Arizona Queer Archives.  Jamie is a Doctoral Student in Information Resources and Library Science (IRLS) with a Gender & Women's Studies minor at the University or Arizona.  In 2008, she started the Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project, Arizona's first LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) archives, and digital video oral history collection, which is being migrated into the Arizona Queer Archives (AQA) through the Institute for LGBT Studies as part of her doctoral research about archives—community-driven and institutionally-connected—being developed for, with, and about underrepresented groups.  Jamie hopes to work with communities and within archives to investigate how reimagining archival theories and practices alongside emerging media technologies may impact the ways that groups articulate identities to society and each other. Jamie will design and establish the Arizona Queer Archive as part of her dissertation research project as she develops queer/ed archival methodologies during her practical archival application. She is alum of the Knowledge River Program where she has been co-directing the Stories of Arizona’s Tribal Libraries: Oral History Project since 2010.  She presented at the 2012 International Archives, Libraries, Museums, and Special Collections Conference on the Future of LGBTQ Histories in Amsterdam and was invited to participate in the 2013 Archival Education & Research Institute (AERI) at UT-Austin. 

She is an award-winning independent filmmaker whose work has screened on PBS, Free Speech TV, and at film festivals and conferences throughout North American and Europe.   She presented at the 2008 Women's World Congress in Madrid, Spain, the 2008 National Communications Association (NCA) Annual Convention, and was the keynote speaker at the 2009 New Directions in Critical Theory Conference about the power of storytelling and using media to make lasting change. Jamie is a member and former co-executive director of Pan Left Productions, Tucson’s filmmaking collective.  She taught documentary film at City High School and continues to facilitate Grrrls Literary Activism Workshops through Kore Press. She is the recipient of the 2009 Arizona Commission on the Arts Artist Project Grant and a 2010 Arizona Governors Arts Award nominee for her work connecting her artform to community activism. 

Jamie spent the summer 2011 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in their Media Initiatives Unit, where she indexed video oral history interviews and entered data into NMAI’s Indigenous Media Online Database; researched technological and access issues within the Indigenous Media Online Database as well as within the Smithsonian’s Digital Assets Management System in order to offer steps for future expansion and changes to allow for more operability for outside researchers, community researchers, and internal curator staff research; developed the NMAI Oral History Project Standard Operating Procedure for use internally as well as within American Indian communities to collect important and relevant histories to be used as permanent record within the Indigenous Online Database and the NMAI archives, in exhibits, and in publications; produced and edited artist interview segments highlighting their work in the Vantage Point contemporary art exhibit to be streamed on the NMAI Youtube channel.


The Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project is the cornerstone of the Arizona Queer Archives. Virtual access to the queer/ed digital database will be available in spring 2014.

The Storytelling Project is Arizona’s first LGBTQ archive, started in 2008 with funding from the Alliance Fund of Southern Arizona, to record and commemorate the voices, images, and memories of LGBTQ people living in the state of Arizona. The goal is to develop and build on the historical record of the diverse LGBTQ individuals and communities here in Arizona, capture memories of historical moments and movements, reveal our struggles, triumphs, healing, and beliefs; as well as share knowledge with future generations. Building on the Project’s success, the time is right to create an online virtual quilt or tapestry of stories of:  long-time activists who played critical roles in creating a more open and accepting environment for LGBTQ people in Arizona; non-activists who live their lives openly; artists who make meaning of their lives in creative works that make change; as well as young people who are shaping their own voices for their communities’ futures; and those of us who live multiply-situated lives across and within many contexts.

The Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project, as a virtual collection of the Arizona Queer Archives at the Institute of LGBT Studies, will provide a tool to educate students, community members, and policy makers about our own state’s communities and histories while the medium through which the stories are collected and shared allows these diverse users to understand how complex LGBTQ communities are; to explore how gender, culture, class, or migrant background intersects with LGBTQ identity to present distinct struggles and opportunities; and to realize that “the” LGBTQ community includes many voices and perspectives. The Arizona Queer Archives, with its initial virtual collection of oral history interviews, will provide ways to build meaningful dialogues around difficult issues while also promoting a very important message that there is no one “right” or “natural” or “normal” way to deal with these issues, but instead, many ways and many opportunities to learn new perspectives.

Special thanks goes out to many people and organizations that made this project possible and continue to make our LGBTQ oral histories an important part of Arizona's historical record:

•  Pan Left Productions for their fiscal sponsorship and ongoing technical support since the very first Alliance Fund grant in January 2008;

•  Elizabeth Burden for intitial connections within the community to better understand the multimodal ways to disseminate digital video oral histories;

•  Eithne Luibheid, former Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies, and Adela C. Licona, Associate Professor in English, for long conversations about how the oral histories might be streamed and accessed through the University of Arizona's iTunes Unversity account;

•  Gregory Anderson at the U of A for help to develop a computerized workflow to efficiently and effectively compress and upload oral histories to iTunes University;

•  Alliance Fund of Southern Arizona, Arizona Humanities Council, Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC), Kresge Art in P.L.A.C.E. fund through TPAC, Institute for LGBT Studies, Pan Left Productions, Southwest Feminists Reunite, and many individual donors along the way; 

•  Susan Stryker, Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies, and the Institute for LGBT Studies for moving the project forward in significant ways, for supporting the project into its next vibrant phase, and for archival wisdom and institutional support; and

• to all participants who are willing to tell their stories in front of the camera and those who are willing to learn the video production skills to carry the work into the community.