Scholarship Related to Transgender Issues to Benefit from First Digital Archive

Holy Cross professor launches expansive online hub to advance research
February 11th, 2016 by 

STA
Photo by: Tom Rettig

K.J. Rawson, assistant professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, recently launched the world’s first Digital Transgender Archive (DTA), a collection of transgender-related historical materials. Rawson’s project was recognized in 2013-14 with funding from the American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowship, awarded each year to a handful of academics to advance digital humanistic scholarship.

The DTA is designed to increase the accessibility of transgender history by providing an online hub for digitized historical materials, born-digital materials, and information on archival holdings throughout the world.

Today, with both new scholarship emerging in the academy and more focused attention on current topics related to transgender people, the launch of the DTA is timely. Rawson says the DTA provides dramatically improved access to transgender history. “We collect materials from all over the world that were created prior to the year 2000,” explains Rawson. He says the collection includes books, oral histories, personal papers, organizational records, serials, photography, ephemera, and more. The website is freely available for students, academic researchers, and the general public.

By documenting primary source facts and experiences of individuals, the launch of the collection also supports efforts for social justice for transgender people and communities. “As our mission statement successfully captures,” Rawson says, “Holy Cross encourages every member of our community to be passionate about truth, promote social justice and foster dialog in order to more deeply understand and respect diverse experiences. The DTA will further these qualities by counteracting negative and hurtful stereotypes of transgender people with more truthful and historically informed representations.”

In the past two years, 15 Holy Cross students have worked as research assistants with the DTA, collaborating on the process of digitizing, recording, and entering historical materials into the database. Processing materials requires students to read and analyze individual artifacts to develop subject terms, compose abstracts, and provide any additional relevant information.

In addition to gaining critical experience in the hands-on work of building an archive, Rawson says it has been a transformative experience for many students. One recent graduate is considering a career in library science; another is pursuing transgender-related social justice work.

“I decided to get involved in the DTA initially because I was interested in the content,” says Victoria Mousley ’17, a psychology major, and the DTA’s lab supervisor last fall. “I wanted to help bring trans-history into the Holy Cross community, and I respected Professor Rawson’s research efforts. As I became more involved, I realized just how important the project is to the preservation of the community’s history.”

The lab where the students work collaboratively on teams has become not only a site of energetic intellectual learning, but also a social space and source of community support. Catarina-Oliva Beal ’18, an English and sociology major with a concentration in creative writing, worked on a team with three other research assistants, and says the DTA lab is a welcoming and fun place to be. “The teams bonded quickly and developed their own personalities,” says Beal. “My team started the project with no context for the files; all we had was this manila envelope with ‘Merissa’s Documents’ written on the front. We spent a lot of time trying to piece together how all the documents fit together and told a story. It felt like detective work.”

The collection is built by more than 20 different archives and organizations from around the world. Eight are universities including, Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library, Cornell University, Duke University, the University of Victoria, and the University of Michigan.

The global scope of the project has inspired Keith Plummer ’17, a double major in sociology and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. Currently studying abroad at the University of Oxford, Plummer is working on developing a summer research proposal to support the DTA. “One of the goals of my project would be to diversify the holdings of the DTA by possibly forging partnerships with archives in London or digitizing materials on site at other locations.”

Media Coverage

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

| More
Tags
Categories
English, News, Press Release

Comments are closed.

02/16/17 Holy Cross Faculty Member Recognized for Contributions to Catholic Higher Education
02/16/17 Religious Studies Professor Offers Response to the Potential Repeal of the Johnson Amendment
02/15/17 Holy Cross Names Dan Kim Vice President for Communications
02/15/17 Margaret Peterlin ’93 Joins State Department as Secretary Rex Tillerson’s Chief of Staff
See All
See All
Featured Videos

See video
Holy Cross Faculty Member Recognized for Contributions to Catholic Higher Education

Watch Video >
See video
Time-Lapse Video: 13 Inches of Snow Blanket Campus

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins ’63 Honored as Helmerich Distinguished Author, Reads Poetry on NPR

Watch Video >
See video
Video, Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Wishes You a Merry Christmas

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Holy Cross History Professor Featured in PBS Pearl Harbor Documentary

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Two-Time Heisman Candidate Gordie Lockbaum ’88 Featured by ESPN in ‘30 for 30 Short’

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Holy Cross Students are ‘More Engaged’

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Take a Look at Campus Life After the Sun Sets

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery, Video: Class of 2020 Receives A Holy Cross Welcome on Move-In Day

Watch Video >
See video
VIDEO: Stephen Colbert Talks Holy Cross in Web Exclusive

Watch Video >
More

Summer OL Training
6/14/2017

See More >


Summer OL Training
6/13/2017

See More >


Summer OL Training
6/12/2017

See More >


SAM'S CLUB
6/8/2017

See More >


Summer OL Training
6/8/2017

See More >


Sexual Misconduct Policy Training
6/7/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519: Open to Campus Community OnlySee More >


Women's Forum Weekly Meeting
5/11/2017

See More >


MSO Advocate Program (Event canceled)
5/11/2017

See More >


AAC Luncheon
5/10/2017

See More >


Athletics
5/10/2017

See More >


Kimball Captains' Senior Send Off Dinner
5/9/2017

See More >


Women's Track and Field Banquet
5/9/2017

See More >


Dean's Spring Address
5/9/2017

See More >


Dean's Address
5/9/2017

See More >


Summer Internship Send Off Meeting
5/9/2017

See More >


Summer Internship Send Off Meeting
5/8/2017

See More >


Cinco de Mayo
5/5/2017

See More >


Women's Forum Weekly Meeting
5/4/2017

See More >


Real Estate Club Meeting
5/4/2017
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Edith Stein Hall 118C: The main goal of the Real Estate Club will be to expose HC students to a broad... See More >

More Holy Cross in the News

02/15/17

Margaret Peterlin ’93 Joins State Department as Secretary Rex Tillerson’s Chief of Staff

The Washington Post

Maintaining a cohesive team at the State Department is critical to the agency’s future success, writes Josh Rogin, a columnist for the Global Opinions section of The...

02/14/17

Religious Studies Professor Reflects on Shaker Culture, Insights

The Conversation

Moved by the recent passing of Sister Frances Carr, thought to be one of the last known Shaker, professor of religious studies Joanne M. Pierce discusses Shaker legacy and...

02/14/17

Why Early Aid Letters Matter: Holy Cross Financial Aid Expert Comments on New FAFSA Rules

U.S. News & World Report

Lynne Myers, director of financial aid at College of the Holy Cross, explains why the changes to the financial aid process, effective for the 2017-2018 academic year, could...