Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America collecting historical documents and artifacts

Stuart Hinds displays a recent donation to the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America. The archive is seeking letters, photos, scrapbooks and other artifacts that tell the story of LGBT life in Kansas City.

When he was in library school in the 1990s, Stuart Hinds wondered what happened to the personal papers and photographs of gay people who were dying of AIDS. He thought it seemed important to collect their records. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that Hinds, now head of LaBudde Special Collections at the Miller Nichols Library at UMKC, was in a position to do anything about it.

The mother of a gay man in Kansas City kept scrapbooks in old wallpaper sample books. The books are now part of the new archive.

Three years ago, the LaBudde department teamed up with the Kansas City Museum to form the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA). Its goal is “to collect, preserve and make accessible the documents and artifacts that reflect the history of the gay and lesbian community of the Kansas City region,” according to GLAMA’s website.

With little fanfare and not much advertising, the word has started to get out. GLAMA is receiving donations of personal papers, magazines and other memorabilia. “It’s seen an amazing response in the community,” Hinds says.

This map from a gay publication in 1979 shows the locations of businesses that welcomed gay patrons. It’s now part of the GLAMA collection. View a larger image at the GLAMA website.

For example, just last weekend a man flew to Kansas City from Miami with a photo album. “He’d been carrying it around for 16 years,” Hinds says. When he heard about GLAMA, he contacted the archive to see if it would be interested. Hinds says they were interested…very interested. He says, “ A good friend of his died in the mid‑1990s, and his friend owned and operated Taps, which was a bar at 19th and Main. He brought four photo albums.”

Those photo albums are now being catalogued and will be preserved. They’ll also be available for researchers and students. The Kansas City archive is one of about 50 gay and lesbian archives across the country. Contact the archive at


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