The Stonewall National Museum & Archives (SNMA) in Fort Lauderdale recently received a $50,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitize its collection and update information systems.
“This is a big step for Stonewall," said Executive Director Hunter O'Hanian. "Our archive is over 2,700 linear feet, totaling more than six million pages of LGBTQ history, from the 1950s to the present day. With the help of the Mellon Foundation, we will begin the process of digitizing the collection and making it available to researchers, writers and artists around the world. Accessibility to our collection has long been a strategic goal of the organization.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic limited in-person visits to the facility, O’Hanian and SNMA leadership recognized the need to digitize the collection, especially deteriorating newspapers, periodicals and documents. The grant will allow the museum to hire a consulting firm to map a plan and retain a staff manager to oversee the massive project.
O’Hanian added, “Not only does digitalization make these materials available to a larger audience, but it also ensures the content will be preserved beyond the useful life of the paper they were printed on. Collectively, we are making sure that this history won't be forgotten.”
Jacki Bennett, board chair, pointed out, “Digitizing our impressive collection propels SNMA’s archival leadership forward in exhibiting LGBTQ history and culture to all across time and geographies.”
Work is expected to begin this month. About half of the current collection is already available online at Stonewall-Museum.org/Archives/.