About 16 years ago, Jerame Davis and his husband were fired from their jobs in Indiana because they are gay.
“It was a group of Pride At Work activists who helped us fight back against that employer,” Davis said. “Because of Pride At Work’s help, we were able to make enough noise and have the company negotiate with us and, ultimately, we won the very first LGBT nondiscrimination settlement in the state of Indiana.”
Today, Davis is the executive director of Pride At Work, an American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations-recognized group that works toward full equality for LGBT workers. In July, the group gave its archives to the Special Collections and University Archives located in the University of Maryland’s Hornbake Library.
“We look at ourselves as a bridge between the LGBT community and organized labor,” Davis said. “Our work focuses primarily on educating labor, LGBT issues and educating the LGBT community about labor issues.”
This university was an “obvious choice” because the AFL-CIO archives are already housed here, Davis said.
“Since we are the official repository for AFL-CIO records, anything that is directly related to AFL-CIO, I am highly interested in adding to our collections here,” said Jennifer G. Eidson, the university’s labor collections archivist.
The boxes delivered to Hornbake have materials documenting the efforts of Pride At Work over the organization’s 21-year history, Eidson said.
“So much interesting stuff [in the archives] … a wide variety that really shows the history of Pride At Work, what we have been doing and who has been involved,” Davis said.
The archives contain posters, meeting minutes, agendas and more, he said.
“I’m really excited that the archives are there and that they will continue to be there,” Davis said. “It was such a joy working with everyone at UMD.”
Luke Jensen, director of this university’s LGBT Equity Center, said he’s pleased the records are part of the archives.
“It really underscores how the University of Maryland is really becoming a great place for those who are interested in research and scholarship on LGBTQ people and issues,” Jensen said.
Eidson said she is also looking forward to having the archives made available to researchers, staff and students.
“I have had questions in the past about what we have regarding LGBT rights and labor unions,” Eidson said, “but I really had nothing before, so I am really excited to have this aspect represented.”