Phil Johnson

DENTON — Resource Center Dallas is transferring the archives of its Phil Johnson library to the University of North Texas to create the Resource Center Dallas LGBT Collection of the UNT Libraries. That collection will become part of a larger LGBT collection in UNT’s Department of Archives and Rare Books.

Dreanna Belden, UNT Libraries assistant dean for external relations, said the school collects materials from groups underrepresented in other libraries.

“We need to raise money to digitize it so everyone in the world can see it,” Belden said.

UNT began working with the LGBT history group The Dallas Way more than a year ago to begin collecting and archiving the history of the LGBT community in North Texas.

RCD CEO Cece Cox said in a press release, “By partnering with a nationally recognized library facility at the University of North Texas, we are ensuring that our valuable history will be available for future generations of students, academics, researchers and the general public.”

This week, copies of Dallas Voice from 2006 to the present went live on the UNT History Portal and all prior issues will be added once funding is secured to scan the older papers. About 400 boxes of materials from the Phil Johnson library will be transferred to UNT.

Belden said the first step will be to transfer the items to acid-free boxes. They will be stored in new climate-controlled facilities built on campus to archive historical papers.

Belden said after the material is stored, it will take a librarian about a year to go through the boxes and take an inventory of the items.
She said that the next step will be to begin putting non-copyrighted material online. Once available on the Internet, users may help update items such as photographs by helping to identify people in pictures and where and when events took place.

The collection of historical material at RCD began with a donation in 1994 from Phil Johnson, who had been collecting magazines, newspaper clippings, posters and other LGBT-related items since the 1940s. Since then the collection has grown with donations of photographs, books and other artifacts including the personal papers of John Thomas, RCD’s first executive director. After the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Servicemembers Legal Defense Network board member Dave Gainer donated boxes of papers related to that two-decade struggle. The collection also includes items like the soapbox used by Queer Liberaction to stand on street corners and discuss equal rights.

Under the agreement with UNT, the Resource Center will be able to display portions of the collection at its current and future homes.

Material may still be added to the collection by donating at the Resource Center. Belden said UNT is collecting material from communities underrepresented in other libraries. Two other special groups include a North Texas Latino collection and horse ranching materials. She said that there are 500 horse ranches in Denton County alone.

The library at the Resource Center will close, and librarian Sandy Swan will be laid off. Clients will still have access to computers in the library.

View the UNT History Portal at

David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 10, 2012.