We are delighted to announce that the UMKC Libraries’ LaBudde Special Collections department received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement at the Faculty Awards Celebration on May 18. This award recognizes and celebrates faculty, staff, units and campus organizations that have made engagement with the community a central aspect of their approach to student learning and scholarship.
The department as a whole – Stuart Hinds, Curator; Dr. Anthony LaBat, Operations and Processing Associate; Kelly McEniry, Archives Assistant; and Lindy Smith, Head of LaBudde Special Collections – received this award for their commitment to supporting and engaging with the Kansas City community, especially recent activities which demonstrate their commitment in tangible ways. Their approach to community engagement builds impactful relationships with the Kansas City community, and does the important work of preserving the community’s culture and memory for the future.
The team members in LaBudde Special Collections (LSC) have long been active partners with academic departments at UMKC as well as community organizations. In recent years, the department’s community partnerships have expanded, providing long-term stewardship, access, and research support for local and regional historical materials, curating public exhibits, and hosting public programs. Much of the department’s engagement connects students and faculty with collections from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, offering meaningful experiential learning opportunities while also fostering positive community relationships.
A non-exhaustive list of the types of projects and relationships that show LSC’s deep engagement with our community includes:
Founding the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America
As a collaboration with the Kansas City Museum and the Jackson County (Missouri) Historical Society, LSC created GLAMA, the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, in 2009 and houses the collection in LaBudde Special Collections at UMKC Libraries. The archive collects, preserves, and makes accessible documents and artifacts that reflect the histories of the LGBT communities in the Kansas City region.
Exhibit to Shed Light on History of Gay Persecution
LSC hosted the traveling exhibit Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals – 1933-1945 in 2013, in partnership with UMKC’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion, the City of Kansas City, the Heartland Men’s Chorus, and the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education.
Marking Local LGBT History
In 2013 GLAMA formed a committee of local LGBT activists to install an historic marker in Barney Allis Plaza in downtown Kansas City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first gathering of gay and lesbian civil rights leaders that took place in Kansas City in 1966 and the subsequent formation of Kansas City’s first gay and lesbian advocacy organization.
Recognizing Women in Kansas City
LSC houses the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame, an effort to acknowledge women, past and present, who have impacted Kansas City’s development. More than a third of the inductees have chosen to deposit their professional and/or personal papers with LSC.
Supporting the Community of Zine-Makers
Since the first convention, LSC has been a formal sponsor or co-host of Kansas City ZineCon, a convention of zine makers and those interested in “zines” – self-published magazines – and has amassed a collection of more than 2,500 zines from the community.
Retelling the Story of the 1968 Uprisings
In 2019, LSC worked with the Prospect Business Association, the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, and UMKC’s Office of External Relations to curate an exhibit retelling a story that was decontextualized and sensationalized in the 50th anniversary exhibit for the 1968 uprising in Kansas City following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The new exhibit reparatively addressed harmful narratives in the historical record, engaging in counter-storytelling to highlight stories, experiences, and narratives of the Black community during the 1968 events. LSC created the exhibit installed at the Cultural Heritage Center and a digital version, Eight Days in April, and hosted a virtual panel, moderated by KSHB news anchor Dia Wall – Eight Days in April: Race, Rebellion, and Reconciliation – during Black History Month in 2021, funded by a Missouri Humanities Council mini grant.
All of these projects and accomplishments and more are the result of LSC’s dedication to community engagement, and have served to expand representation of the communities present in LaBudde Special Collections. The collections related to these efforts are regularly utilized by students, faculty and researchers from UMKC, Johnson County Community College, the Kansas City Art Institute, cultural institutions in the Kansas City region and across the globe, ensuring that local and regional communities are represented in the historical record for research and scholarship.