America’s Oldest Gay Organization Establishes Archive at the University of Houston

Posted by The Diana Foundation
The Diana Foundation signed its official agreement with the University of Houston’s MD Anderson Library Special Collections to establish The Diana Foundation Historic Archive. Historical Diana documents, video, and memorabilia will be donated to the archive and be shared with the general public for research purposes.  Thanks to the extraordinary services of the University, materials will be preserved and digitized. The archive will become its own subsection of the University’s overall LGBT History Research Collection.
 
In 1953, The Diana Foundation was formed by a group of Houston friends who gathered to watch the first televised Academy Awards. This annual party continued with guests creating their own awards (The Diana Awards) to roast their friends. Over time, The Diana Foundation become one of Houston’s most prominent LGBT organizations and has helped raise substantial funds totally over $1.6 million dollars for local charities. This year will mark the Foundation’s 65th anniversary. 
 
Tanner Williams, outgoing president of The Diana Foundation, signed the agreement with Dean of Libraries Lisa German at the June General Membership Meeting. Williams, along with past president John Heinzerling and president-elect Dan Maxwell, worked to solidify the relationship with the University. Heinzerling was one of the leading people who helped negotiate the agreement to move The Botts Collection LGBT Archive to the University’s Special Collections in 2015. The Botts Collection has been supported by The Diana Foundation for many years and includes some Diana artifacts. 
 
“During my last hours as president of The Diana Foundation, it was my biggest responsibility to secure the history of the organization and to ensure our story could be shared with the world,” said Williams. “I am excited about the new opportunities our relationship with the University of Houston will provide. This is a time when all LGBT organizations in our community should consider joining us to help to build one of America’s greatest gay archives.”
 
The LGBT History Research Collection includes personal papers, organizations records, and library collections that preserve and promote collective understanding of Houston’s and the region’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities and service organizations. Materials document the communities’ activist, cultural, social, and political activities, and the personal experiences of community members. UH Libraries is an active member of Houston ARCH, the Houston Area Rainbow Collective History organization.
 
“As the 17th President of the Diana Foundation, I am proud that our history will forever be captured and the many milestones that we have achieved will be available to all who seek to learn more about LGBTQ presence in southeast Texas,” said Maxwell. “As an educator, I am eager to share the many stories about The Diana Foundation and our role in the LGBTQ community of the City of Houston with the faculty, students, and alumni interested in learning.”
 
As efforts continue in the local community to build its own gay museum, Williams commented that we already have the resources to prominently display and educate the world about the rich history in Houston. “We already have brick and mortar at the University of Houston. What we need is the ability to put our history in the hands of researchers, interested minds, and the entire world. This is what the Diana’s are doing,” said Williams.
 
Current and past members of The Diana Foundation are being asked to gather any materials that may exist and consider making contributions to the collection. The Foundation will maintain the copyright of its materials; however, all materials will be available to the public. Sixty-five years of history will now have an official home at the University of Houston.
 
Organizations interested in joining the LGBT History Research Collection at the University of Houston are encouraged to do so by visiting http://info.lib.uh.edu/p/lgbt-history
 
The Diana Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit recognized as the oldest continuously active gay organization in the United States of American founded in 1953. Details found at www.thedianafoundation.org
 
Photo credit: Dalton DeHart. // Pictured left to right: President-Elect Dan Maxwell, Dean of Libraries Lisa German, President Tanner Williams, and Past President John Heinzerling - signed agreement to establish The Diana Foundation Historic Archive. 
 
The Diana Foundation
P.O. Box 66523 - Houston, TX 77266-6523 - thedianafoundation@gmail.com
 
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