Archival Innovator: Invisible Histories Project

Invisible Histories Project (IHP), a non-profit, community-based archiving and history project, is the 2020 recipient of the Archival Innovator Award from the Society of American Archivists (SAA).

The Archival Innovator Award recognizes archivists, repositories, or organizations that show creativity in approaching professional challenges, the ability to think outside the professional norm or have an extraordinary impact on a community through archives programs and outreach.

IHP works to locate, preserve, and make accessible the LGBTQ history of the Deep South. The Project began collecting queer archival materials in February of 2018, and to date has located more than 50 collections of LGBTQ historical documents from Alabama dating from 1912 to the present. It pioneers cooperative collecting, breaks down long-established walls of distrust, and builds lasting partnerships between LGBTQ memory-creators, academic institutions, budding archivists, and researchers. In the last two years IHP has developed Queer History South, a network and conference that brings together archivists, historians, oral historians, and community organizers to focus on the work of LGBTQ archival preservation. It creates a network of support and innovation for the field of Queer Southern Studies.

“We strive to break barriers between organizations and their local communities to ensure that preservation and research exist in a co-productive and relationship-centered way. We are invested in providing scholars with direct access to materials as well as creating a network of people conducting LGBTQ Southern archiving, preservation, education and research to make scholarship more accessible,” said Co-founder Joshua Burford.