Instructor Name: 
Deborah Burke
Course Description: 

This Capstone course introduces oral history as a method for documenting, preserving, and amplifying the diverse histories and voices of Portland’s LGBTQ+ communities. Our community partner for this course is the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN).

Through listening to interviews with queer elders and exploring related primary source materials, we will learn about local queer history. Topics will include political activism of the 1970s, the anti-gay backlash and ballot measures of the 1990s and early 2000s, the long fight for marriage equality, various social groups, and the internal tensions and external pressures that Portland’s LGBTQ+ community has faced over time. We will pay particular attention to the ways that race, class and gender impact the narratives and experiences of both individuals and the broader movement for queer liberation.

Simultaneously, students will develop and practice their own listening and interviewing skills. Students will work in pairs to conduct, record and transcribe an oral history interview, to be housed as part of GLAPN’s collection at the Oregon Historical Society for long-term preservation and future use by researchers, scholars, activists and community members. Students will also have the opportunity to produce and present a multimedia presentation, slideshow, podcast or performance, based on the interview they conduct for the course.

Community Partner

A group of community-based historians started GLAPN in October 1994. GLAPN members are involved in many activities that promote a greater awareness and understanding of LGBTQ+ history – including processing collections and doing independent research. One of the best ways to gather LGBTQ+ history is to interview members of the community and record their stories. GLAPN material is stored at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.