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Explore LGBT History at UWM

On the fourth floor of the UW-Milwaukee Golda Meir library -- if you look hard enough -- you'll find a one-of-a-kind collection of LGBT history.

In fact, it's the largest in the state.

Hundreds and hundreds of primary source, personal items are on display -- things like photographs, letters, leaflets -- all documenting the gay rights movement in the second half of the 20th century.

Visitors can see how gay culture -- and perceptions along with it -- evolved over time, and the Archives focus on items found primarily in Milwaukee.  

From photos showing the social suppression of the 1950s, to literature on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, and the marriage equality issue that has been debated for decades, people who visit see how Wisconsin had a role in a movement that would shape national history.

"This history is rich, but not well documented.  The voices and actions of the LGBT individuals are organizations are often unrecorded, suppressed, or erased," a handout for the Archives reads.

Also on display are rare publications, many in mint or near-mint condition.  Iconic physique periodicals from the 1950s, so-called "beefcake" magazines, are preserved, along with gay and lesbian fiction novels.  The Archives also feature original gay liberation rhetorical documents from the 1970s, even comic books of the 1990s.

The collection is open to the public, and library officials say it is always accepting new content for preservation.  For information on hours or to schedule a visit, contact Michael Doylen at 414-229-6980 or Max Yela at 414-22-4345.

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee