The digital projects of Houstonian J.D. Doyle have been selected by the United States Library of Congress as part of their efforts to preserve LGBTQ history. In a message from the Washington D.C. library, Doyle was told: “The United States Library of Congress has selected your website for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. We consider your website to be an important part of this collection and the historical record.”
Doyle says the news came to him out of the blue. “I really didn’t see this coming. I’m excited and honored.”
Doyle’s websites were nominated by Meg Metcalf, a librarian for the library’s Women’s, Gender & LGBTQ+ Studies department. Metcalf says: “As a researcher myself, I have found J.D. Doyle’s archive an absolute treasure. I refer researchers to his various sites regularly, as in many cases they are the only online access points for certain primary sources of LGBTQ+ history. And I use it myself often, most recently to access the digitized copies of Vice Versa. I know researchers who have spent hundreds of dollars and traveled hundreds of miles to access copies of Vice Versa. To be honest, I cried a little when I realized that he had digitized the entire run. That’s just how important it is.”
The Library of Congress believes online archives are important because they capture information that could otherwise be lost. Many of today’s newly created documents and images are “born digital” and never printed on paper, so the library is committed to acquiring, cataloging, and preserving digital materials for future researchers to access.
The library will collect content from Doyle’s websites at regular intervals over time. This collection will be available for viewing at Library of Congress facilities, and could also be included in the library’s public-access website that is available to researchers around the world.
Doyle’s impressive array of archive websites includes Houston LGBT History, The Texas Obituary Project, Houston We Have History (the Banner Project), Queer Music Heritage, Female Impersonation, QMH101 (queer music lesson plan), Out Radio, Audio File, Queer Music Heritage Blog, Video Channel, and his daily Facebook history outreach project. After nearly two decades of gathering, digitizing, and sharing history online, Doyle’s websites constitute one of the largest LGBTQ history efforts in the nation.
Doyle also has an impressive physical collection of LGBTQ history. His collection of queer music recordings is probably the most comprehensive in the world, and he has amassed an amazing collection of pre-Stonewall drag memorabilia. During that era, drag existed largely as “female impersonation revues” in straight nightclubs. Many drag-show photos, posters, and videos are digitized and can be viewed and heard on his Female Impersonation website.
Doyle has organized a board of directors who are entrusted with preserving his archives for future generations. Board members include activists Eric Liston, Sara Fernandez, and Jack Valinski.
The Houston LGBT History website is easily navigated, and includes information on nearly every aspect of local LGBTQ history. Among its offerings is a year-by-year display of photos from every Pride parade in the past 40 years. Doyle has also digitized and posted nearly every issue of the This Week in Texas (TWT) magazine.
Doyle works tirelessly to locate, digitize, and post information from a wide variety of sources, including local, state, and national publications. His Texas Obituary Project has over 5,000 entries, and has helped countless people find information about friends and relatives lost to the AIDS epidemic. His websites also serve as a magnet for information held by others who are happy to see their memorabilia given a permanent online home.
Doyle was honored for his achievements in 2014 when he was elected Male Grand Marshal for that year’s Pride parade. He continues to serve on Pride Houston’s advisory committee comprised of former parade marshals.
To access the J.D. Doyle Archives, visit jddoylearchives.org.
For more information about the Library of Congress LGBTQ+ Web Studies Archive, visit www.loc.gov/rr/main/lgbtq/lgbtqgeneralguide/digitalcollections.html.
This article appears in the June 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.