Princeton LGBTQIA Oral History Project connects students to the past

Launched in 2017, the Princeton LGBTQIA Oral History Project allows students to interview and learn from LGBTQIA alumni, faculty and staff.

Listening to the stories of LGBTQ Princetonians of the past made sophomore Rita Keazer realize how the climate on campus has evolved around gender and sexuality.

"I was very naive, thinking that Princeton was always the way it is today," she said.

Keazer is involved in the Princeton LGBTQIA Oral History Project, launched in the summer of 2017, in which undergraduate and graduate students interview LGBTQIA alumni and current and former LGBTQIA staff and faculty to learn about their lives, particularly their experiences being LGBTQIA (out and not out) at Princeton, and their perceptions of the climate for LGBTQIA people at Princeton at different points in time.

In the video above, Director of the LGBT Center Judy Jarvis, Keazer and senior Paloma Aguas discuss the project. Students interviewers participate in extensive oral history methods training as a requirement for participating in the project and are paid research assistants. Of the 73 interviews conducted so far, the audio and transcripts of about 45 interviews are posted online through the Princeton University Archives at Mudd Library to help current students connect to LGBTQIA stories and experiences of the past and to provide opportunities for scholarly research.

The project is a partnership between by the LGBT Center, Fund for Reunion/Princeton Bisexual, Transgender, Gay and Lesbian Alumni (BTGALA), the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies and University Archives, with support from the Provost Office's Princeton Histories Fund. Alumni and students can sign up to be involved in the project, and organizers hope to conduct a new round of interviews in summer 2018.