The LGBTQ Archive at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reflects the lives of members of the LGBTQ community in Madison, Wisconsin and greater Dane County from the 1940s to present day. The archive is housed within the UW-Madison Archives. The archive contains oral histories, personal papers, photographs, ephemera, and organisational records relevant to LGBTQ life from both a university and community perspective over time. This is a growing collection designed to provide resources and historical memory for marginalized individuals.


  • A poster advertising an exhibit entitled You Are Here: Finding the LGBTQ Community hosted by the LGBTQ Archive at UW-Madison.  Image taken from Madison LGBTQ Archive instagram, October 29, 2018. Image posted March 10, 2017.
    A poster advertising an exhibit entitled You Are Here: Finding the LGBTQ Community hosted by the LGBTQ Archive at UW-Madison. Image taken from Madison LGBTQ Archive instagram, October 29, 2018. Image posted March 10, 2017.
  • Interior of The Back Door from December 1972, the first gay bar in Madison as well as the first bar owned and operated by an openly queer people. Image taken from Madison LGBTQ Archive instagram, October 29, 2018. Image posted September 22, 2016.
    Interior of The Back Door from December 1972, the first gay bar in Madison as well as the first bar owned and operated by an openly queer people. Image taken from Madison LGBTQ Archive instagram, October 29, 2018. Image posted September 22, 2016.
  • A series of pins and buttons reflecting the political campaign of Kathleen Nichols, one of the first openly LGBTQ elected officials. Image taken from Madison LGBTQ Archive instagram, October 29, 2018. Image posted March 4, 2016.
    A series of pins and buttons reflecting the political campaign of Kathleen Nichols, one of the first openly LGBTQ elected officials. Image taken from Madison LGBTQ Archive instagram, October 29, 2018. Image posted March 4, 2016.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives was founded in 1951. In 2007, the collection began documenting via an oral history project the voices of politicians, professors, students, and activists in the Madison LGBT community. In 2015, University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives designated a space within its holdings to collect physical materials related to Madison’s LGBT communities. Although this collection began as an oral history repository, it has expanded significantly and now includes oral histories, personal papers, photographs, ephemera, and organizational records. The collection contains reflections from the experiences of students, faculty, politicians, and activists from Madison.

A finding aid is available for the collection. The finding aid includes numerous individual collections as well as records of organizations, newsletters, support groups, media groups, and activist groups active in the Madison community from 1940 to present day. The collections within the archive pertain to individuals, activist groups, art, and many more topics.

Some of the activist groups and locations highlighted within the archive include the AIDS Network Collection, the Bi? Shy? Why? Files, the Fallen Woman Productions Files, the GALVAnize: Gay and Lesbian Visibility Alliance Collection, Wisconsin Gazette Periodical Collection, UW Alumni Association Collection, Dick Wagner Collection, a Silence = Death poster, Rural Southwest Wisconsin Gay & Lesbian Alliance Files, PFLAG materials, Outreach Youth Group Photographs, Our Lives Magazine Files, Madison Lesbian Herstory Project, Madison Area Transgender Association, LGBT Books to Prisoners Files, Harriet Forman Collection, National Lesbian Feminist Organization, Cardinal Bar Collection, In the Family Conference Files and Newsletters, Integrity/Dignity Correspondence and Files, Gay Counseling Program History and many more.

The archive also houses collections that highlight local members of the LGBTQ community and their contributions to greater Dane County's LGBTQ scene, including the papers of Joe Elder, Michele Besant, Lewis Bosworth, Beverly Buhr, Pat Calchina, Dick Wagner, Jen Voichick, Tim Tillotson, Kathleen Nichols, George Mosse, Jane Vanderbosch, Marge Sutinen, Richard Kilmer, David Jindra and many others.

In addition to exhibits hosted on campus, the LGBTQ Archive maintains social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To add your own materials to the collection, contact the UW-Madison Archives at 608-262-5629 or uwarchiv@library.wisc.edu. A multimedia project of the archive aims to document and disperse memories of organizations, civic actions, cultural spaces, and fights for justice. The archive also produces a podcast. The archive places particular emphasis on making historical materials available in a variety of mediums to serve the diverse needs of Madison's LGBTQ population.

"Archives History." UW Archives and Records Management. August 09, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018. https://www.library.wisc.edu/archives/about-uw-archives/archives-history/.

"Madison LGBTQ Archive Collection Preview." February 15, 2017. Accessed November 26, 2018.         https://www.library.wisc.edu/archives/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2015/06/LGBTQ-Archive-Collection-Preview-2-15-17.pdf.

"Madison's LGBTQ Community." UW Archives and Records Management. April 14, 2017. Accessed October 29, 2018. https://www.library.wisc.edu/archives/exhibits/madisons-lgbt-community-1960s-to-present/.

"UW Archives and Record Management." University of Wisconsin-Madison. Accessed November 26, 2018. https://www.library.wisc.edu/archives/.