Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University Marie foltz received a Scholarships and Society by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to work with regional LGBTQ organizations to build their archival collections, raising awareness of the history and contributions of these communities.
Foltz will be the first researcher-in-residence at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She starts working with the center Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archives and leading public initiatives in the humanities in September 2021. Foltz is one of 12 winners of the scholarship program, which provides faculty with the opportunity to conduct research projects during their residency with community organizations.
The Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archives is a rich resource for exploring the value of regional LGBTQ political, social and cultural organizations as they contribute to national movements for equity, Foltz said. The collection, which includes publications, organizational documents, personal documents, oral histories and artifacts, documents local and regional LGBTQ life and activism. The materials provide opportunities to expand understanding of this history and these organizations beyond major cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, Foltz said.
“I am truly honored to receive the ACLS Scholars and Society and to have the opportunity to work with the staff at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center next year in the archives,” she said. “During the scholarship year, I will feature a variety of articles intended for the public that explore the value of regional LGBTQ history and work on academic articles on the unique contributions of LGBTQ organizations in Lehigh Valley.”
The scholarship builds on Foltz’s existing collaborations with LGBT Bradbury-Sullivan Community Center, where she leads a community reading group on LGBTQ memories as part of her work with the Lehigh South Side Initiative. the South side initiative promotes sustained research collaborations between Lehigh faculty, staff and students, area residents, local artists, activists, community leaders and government officials.
“Mary’s Award is recognition of her deep commitment to forging connections with community resources that make tangible differences in the lives of the people they serve,” said Robert Flowers, Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean from the College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh. “Her work illustrates the importance of public research in the humanities and how the work we do at the college leaves lasting impressions across the region and benefits the communities in which we live.
Foltz, who is director of the Lehigh South Side Initiative, is a member of Lehigh’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program and teaches post-1945 American literature, with an interest in LGBTQ writers from the ‘after war.
In the focus of historians and academics on large metropolitan areas when exploring LGBTQ history, the contributions of rural or smaller urban centers are often missed, she said.
“We need to share knowledge about the role of small urban centers in national movements such as the homophile movement, the gay liberation movement, the trans liberation movement, AIDS activism and the fight for equal marriages. , as well as other topics that matter to various LGBTQ groups of people, such as Black Lives Matter, immigration issues or economic justice issues, ”Foltz said. “This small urban center story is something academics should be working on nationally in their own local communities, partnering with local organizations to co-produce knowledge about urban and rural contributions to national movements.”
Her work with the archives will conclude with a public display of regional LGBTQ history and continue her partnership with Bradbury-Sullivan to conduct oral histories that contribute to the archives and showcase LGBTQ voices. “Next year, we will continue this work to bridge the gap in our historical understanding of Lehigh Valley and the contributions LGBTQ people have made to communities here,” said Foltz.
The archives include 17 collections and are offered to the community in partnership between the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and the Trexler Library at Muhlenberg College.
“The Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archives is one of our fastest growing programs at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center,” said Center Executive Director Adrian Shanker. “We are excited to enhance the impact of community archives with our very first researcher-in-residence. “
the ACLS scholarship program rewards scholarships in the humanities and social sciences with the ability to make significant contributions to knowledge in their fields, supporting six to 12 months of full-time research and writing. The program awards scholarships to individual researchers working in the humanities and related social sciences. Institutions and individuals contribute to the ACLS scholarship program and its endowment, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the colleges and universities associated with the Council, and former Fellows and individual friends of ACLS.
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