Mary Foltz awarded Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowship to expand LGBTQ Archive

PICTURE: Mary Foltz is an Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University. view More

Credit: Lehigh University

Mary Foltz, Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University, has been awarded a Scholars and Society Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to work with regional LGBTQ organizations to build their archival collections and raise awareness of history and society Contribute to expand these communities.

Foltz will be the first fellow at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She will begin working with the center’s Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive and leading humanities initiatives in September 2021. Foltz is one of 12 winners of the scholarship program, which gives the faculty the opportunity to conduct research projects with community-based organizations during their stay.

The Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive is a rich resource for exploring the value of regional LGBTQ political, social and cultural organizations as they contribute to national movements for justice, Foltz said. The collection, which includes publications, organizational records, personal documents, oral lore and artifacts, documents local and regional LGBTQ life and activism. The materials provide opportunities to expand understanding of this history and organizations beyond major cities like New York City, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, Foltz said.

“I am really honored to receive the ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowship and to have the opportunity to work with the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center staff in the archives next year,” she said. “During the fellowship year, I will be offering a variety of publicly available contributions that explore the value of regional LGBTQ history and work on scholarly articles on the unique contributions of LGBTQ organizations in the Lehigh Valley.”

The scholarship builds on Foltz’s existing collaboration with the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, where she leads a community reading group on LGBTQ memories in connection with her work on Lehigh’s South Side Initiative. The South Side Initiative promotes sustainable research collaborations between Lehigh faculty, staff and students, residents of the area, local artists, activists, community leaders and officials.

“Mary’s award is a recognition of her deep dedication to making connections with community resources that will transform the lives of the people she serve,” said Robert Flowers, Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh. “Your work illustrates the importance of public humanities research and how our college work makes a lasting impression in the area and benefits the communities in which we live.”

Foltz, director of Lehigh’s South Side Initiative, is a member of the Lehighs Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program and teaches post-1945 US literature with an interest in post-war LGBTQ writers.

In the focus of historians and scholars who focus on the big metropolitan areas when researching LGBTQ history, the contributions of rural or smaller urban centers are often overlooked, she said.

“We need to share knowledge about the role of small urban centers in national movements like the homophile movement, the gay liberation movement, the trans-liberation movement, AIDS activism and the fight for marriage equality, as well as other issues that Of concern to different people are LGBTQ groups of people like Black Lives Matter, immigration issues or economic justice issues, “said Foltz.” This story of a small urban center is something that scholars are working on at the national level in their own local communities and with local ones Organizations should work together to co-produce knowledge of urban and rural contributions to national movements. “

Her work with the archive will culminate in a public exhibition on regional LGBTQ history and continue her partnership with Bradbury-Sullivan to create oral stories that add to the archive and highlight LGBTQ voices. “Over the next year we will continue this work to fill the gap in our historical understanding of Lehigh Valley and the contribution that LGBTQ people have made to the communities here,” said Foltz.

The archive comprises 17 collections and is offered to the community in collaboration between the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and the Trexler Library at Muhlenberg College.

“The Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive is one of our fastest growing programs at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center,” said Adrian Shanker, executive director of the center. “We are very excited to be enhancing the impact of the community archive with our very first scholarship holder.”

The ACLS scholarship program honors scholarships in the humanities and humanities with the ability to make meaningful contributions to knowledge in their fields and supports six to twelve months of full-time research and writing. The program awards grants to individual researchers who work in the humanities and related social sciences. Institutions and individuals contribute to the ACLS scholarship program and its foundation, 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 college and university staff of the Council , and former Fellows and individual friends of ACLS.


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