Lavender Legacies Guide: United States: Wyoming

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American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
Location:Centennial Complex
2111 Willet Dr.
Laramie, WY 82071
Mailing Address: Dept. 3924
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie WY 82071
Phone: 307-766-6832
Reference Department:, 307-766-3756

Begun as the personal collection of distinguished University of Wyoming professor and trustee Grace Raymond Hebard, the nucleus of UW’s manuscripts and special collections were donated to the school prior to Hebard’s death in 1936. Twenty years later, the department of Western History and University Archives, created in 1945 and housed within the University Library, welcomed a new head. During the course of almost forty years, the department grew and was renamed the American Heritage Center.
Our mission is to preserve a clearly defined set of primary sources and rare books--reflecting the written, image, and audio history of Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain Region, and select aspects of the American past--and to make those sources accessible to all. Our diverse collections support casual inquiry and international scholarship; most importantly, we play an active and creative role in the teaching and research missions of the University.

Current Holdings: Size and Content:
Matthew Shepard collection, 1983-2008: 3.35cubic ft. (9 boxes)
Bio: Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was severely beaten during the night of October 6, 1998 by Laramie, Wyoming residents Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. Shepard died as a result of the injuries on October 12, 1998. The incident led to a great deal of media coverage as it was believed to be a hate crime committed against Shepard because of his sexual orientation. Many groups and individuals organized memorials in Shepard's name. Shepard's murder also generated debate over hate-crime legislation as a deterrence to similar crimes.
Scope and Content: The collection contains information about the events surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, in the fall of 1998. The material came from different sources, such as the news media, University Presidents Office, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Association, now Spectrum, and includes correspondence from people in many parts of the country, news articles, fliers and posters, editorials, bulletins, and speeches. Also within the collection is information on demonstrations that took place, the debate about bias and hate crime laws in Wyoming, and memorials to Matthew Shepard. There are also lesbian and gay newspapers, posters for a drag party, and banners created by and sent to the LGBTA . The President’s Office files include hate mail, lesbian and gay literature, memorial web sites, and hate crime legislation petitions.

Matthew Shepard Web Archive, 1998-2008 [electronic resource]: (70 websites 1.9 million documents)
Bio: Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten and left to die in a field outside Laramie, Wyoming, sometime during the night of October 6-7, 1998. Born on December 1, 1976, Shepard was 21 years old when he died. On October 6, 1998, he left a local bar with two Laramie men, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, who later claimed they had intended only to rob him. The crime escalated when they tied Shepard up and beat him fatally. On October 7, 1998, another University of Wyoming student found Shepard tied to a fence. Shepard died at the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12, 1998.
October 2008 marked ten years since Matthew Shepard's death. This collection documents the impact that his murder had on people around the world, evinced in web pages, blogs, video clips, online memorials, and the websites of several organizations. It can also be accessed through Archive-It.
Scope and Content: The 70 websites captured by the web-crawl reflect a broad and in-depth coverage of the Shepard murder, memorials, and efforts that address inequalities based on gender and sexual orientation. These include sites such as the Westboro Baptist Church that protested at the University of Wyoming following Shepard's death and condemns homosexuality. There are also blogs written by friends, family, reporters, and people who did not know Shepard. Also included are sites of organizations related to Matthew Shepard and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender issues. Additionally, the websites of films, books, and music about Shepard's life and his murder were included in the website harvest. Finally, media coverage that only existed on the Internet was included.

Spectrum records, 2003-2007: 1.55 cubic ft. (2 boxes)
Bio: Spectrum was a Recognized Student Organization at the University of Wyoming. Formerly the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Association, Spectrum was a club for social and political support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, and allies.
Scope and Content: Includes newspaper articles, Day of Silence materials, artifacts from Spectrum meetings and activities, pamphlets and other resources for GLBT community (created by national GLBT organizations), and posters and fliers for meetings.

Collection Growth:
The American Heritage Center acquires (per acceptance by the AHC Acquisitions Committee) GLBT materials related to Wyoming and the West and authors of GLBT Western fiction. Other subject areas may be considered. The AHC will consider acquiring all types of materials, including all listed in 3A, except books and journals.

Access and Use:
AHC collections are available to the public, free of charge. Patrons must fill out a researcher form annually.
Hours: Monday, 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM; Tuesday-Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Site is wheelchair accessible.
For policies regarding use of photographs and the digital camera policy, please the Reference Department webpage:

Research space
Reference assistance on site
Telephone reference
Internet reference (e-mail/web)
Copying services
Audiovisual facilities
Exhibitions Loan agreements for exhibits

Indices to the collections:
All collections have MARC records in local database and OCLC. Online finding aids for some collections describe materials to the box or folder level: Paper findings aids also available for many collections.

Updating Collection Descriptions: Depending on the scope and notoriety of the collection we will feature it in our newsletter, blog, and professional listserves and newsletters