Senior Exhibit: We Are Everywhere: Lesbians in the Archive

Seated woman in black pants and white shirt smoking cigarette bending over arm of chair to kiss another woman. Above them floats a pair of legs wearing pump-style dark shoes.

Monday, May 2, 2022 - 12:00am to Sunday, October 30, 2022 - 11:00pm
Sterling Memorial Library, Exhibition Corridor
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

This year’s Yale Library Senior Exhibit, curated by Gabrielle Colangelo ‘22, is now on display in the Sterling Memorial Library Exhibition Corridor.  An online version of the exhibition is also available. 

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 At the same time, libraries are not apolitical spaces: homophobic and outdated library classification practices have made “lesbian” a difficult subject to research and find.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.

Members of the public may access the exhibit  through Sterling Memorial Library on weekdays until 6 pm. All visitors must be vaccinated and boosted when eligible. See Yale Library COVID-19 updates for details.