Minnesota History: Building A Legacy

Claiming History: Giving Voice to the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies

Tretter Collection staff with the large Outfront MN collection

Tretter Collection staff with the large Outfront MN

Regents of the University of Minnesota (U of M Libraries)
Minneapolis, Hennepin County

The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota Libraries reflects the key role Minnesota has played in the GLBT community nationwide. Legacy funds allowed the U of M to organize and describe 1,600 linear feet of archival materials documenting the history of the GLBT movement in Minnesota, with the goal of opening and ensuring access to these important materials for research and teaching by faculty, students, and the community.

The Tretter Collection originated over 40 years ago when Jean-Nickolaus Tretter, who believed that the rich history, tradition, and culture of the gay community should be collected and preserved, began to gather materials. By donating his massive collection of books, serials, newspapers, ephemera, textiles, audiovisual, and archival material to the university in 2000, Tretter ensured his collection would be preserved. The Tretter Collection has taken its place in history as a significant resource for research.

During processing, a number of high value collections were identified, processed and made available including records of important local organizations such as the Minnesota AIDS Project, Outfront MN, Minnesota Men of Color, and the University's Queer Student Cultural Center, as well as records of important local and national figures.

The final step in the project was to physically relocate and reshelve approximately 1,800 boxes of material. One aim of this work was to put the most notable collections in one location so they could be highlighted during tours. This has qualitatively improved the tour narrative for visitors. It has also gathered the most used collections into the most convenient storage and limited the number of trips to multiple locations needed to retrieve materials for researchers.