In this month’s Diversity Allies blog Marlena Nuernberger-Walle provides an update on the what the group has been doing in June 2021. It also provides sources and events surrounding Pride Month, Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller History Month, and UK Windrush Day
What we’ve been up to
The Awareness Campaigns Group is now in the final stages of creating a calendar surrounding days and months of commemoration to ally-relevant causes. They are hoping to share the calendar within the month. Here is a sneak peek for the month of June:
As a member of the awareness campaigns group with the diversity allies, and one of the creators of the calendar, you can tell I’m pretty passionate about using commemorative days as a tool to recognise and celebrate minority groups that have, too often, been pushed to the fringes of mainstream society and who face challenges in their everyday life because they belong to those groups. That said, commemorative days are not enough: diversity and inclusion require an ongoing commitment to learning about the issues these groups face and how we, as archivists and as people, can work towards equality and inclusivity.
This post aims to highlight some of the collections, initiatives, and events that I thought were relevant to diversity allies work, but the examples given here are by no means exhaustive. Most archives will have records in their care that showcase the diversity inherent in human life; maybe the links below can inspire or inform outreach activities in the month of June and beyond.
As you can see, June is dedicated to the awareness of two groups. First of all, it is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Not to be confused with LGBT History month (February here in the UK and Ireland, October in the US), Pride month is a time to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans- and other sexualities, genders, and identities, in the spirit of equality, tolerance, and increased visibility of this underrepresented minority.
The first official Pride Event in the UK is thought to be the London Pride Parade 1972, but as many of us in archives know, the existence of LGBTQ+ people and the promotion of LGBTQ+ culture is not new or modern. You can read more about LGBTQ+ history in this recent article on Pride Month, or in this post for looking at gender norm defying historical figures for LGBT history month.
Pride Month in Archives
In archives, collections like the Hall-Carpenter Archives at LSE, or the Plymouth LGBT Archive are a great place to look at examples of LGBTQ life in the UK, both past and present. Other archives have compiled resource lists to help researchers find relevant material, for example this source list at Lothian Health Service Archives. The special collections and archives at Bishopsgate Institute hold one of the largest collections of material relating to LGBTQ+ history, politics, and culture from the late nineteenth century onward, including the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA). The National Archives has a guide available on their website to help users find LGBTQ+ material in the archives. On 18th June, Vicky Iglikowski-Broad from The National Archives and Stefan Dickers from Bishopsgate Institute will host a free online talk: ‘LGBTQ+ archive collections: different perspectives.’ Tickets are available here.
Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller History Month
June is also Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller History Month. Gypsy, Roma and Travellers are a group of (distinct and diverse) ethnic minorities in the UK facing considerable challenges in terms of health, education and housing inequalities. Collections like the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma Collections at the University of Leeds and the Gypsy Romany and Traveller sources at Surrey History Centre give an insight into the unique culture and traditions of these groups.
UK Windrush Day
Finally, 22nd June is Windrush Day, honouring the half million people who moved to the UK from the Caribbean after the second World War. In 2018, the Windrush Scandal revealed the hostile environment policies and destruction of records resulting in the wrongful detainment, deportation, and/or denial of legal rights of British Citizens from the Caribbean, many of whom are still waiting for recognition and compensation. The 2010 destruction of the Landing Cards, which served for many as proof of their arrival in the UK, highlights how public recordkeeping decisions have consequences for the individuals in those records. The Black Cultural Archive’s subject guide, ‘War to Windrush’, can be found here, or researchers can have a look at The National Archives’ resource guide for researching Black British social and political history in the 20th century.