This year’s Yale Library Senior Exhibit,
curated by Gabrielle Colangelo ‘22, is now
on display in the Sterling Memorial Library
Libraries are sites of self-discovery. Many coming-out stories feature accounts of individuals finding queerness for the first time while reading. At the same time, libraries are not apolitical spaces: homophobic and outdated library classification practices have made “lesbian” a difficult subject to research and find. As of early February, out of the ten million items recorded in Yale Library’s database Orbis, only 1068 are catalogued under the subject heading “lesbian.”
“We are Everywhere” explores the relationship between lesbians, archives, and lesbian objects in archives. Beginning in the archives of the Harlem Renaissance and ending in the archives of the AIDS crisis, this exhibition asks the question: What does it mean to catalog an object as “lesbian” -–or to not? In particular, the exhibition highlights moments where lesbians deliberately introduce themselves into the mainstream historical record with younger generations in mind: creating their own archives so, as Lisbet Tellefsen said, young lesbians of the future “trying to organize and do work will have it a little easier.” The objects in this show are a small sample of the material traces left by our vast, continually discovered queer history. We are everywhere. We write, we love, we care, we see. We name ourselves.
This project builds on an English Department senior essay and highlights materials from across Yale Library special collections, such as the Lisbet Tellefsen papers at Beinecke Library and the Lesbian and gay liberation collection at Yale Manuscripts and Archives.