Three Questions with Karen Wisely, UNT Doctoral Student

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Three Questions is an initiative to share the value that our faculty, students, and others in the UNT community derive from using the Unique Collections at UNT Libraries.

  1. How important are Unique Collections in your teaching, learning or research?

    I am in the midst of writing a dissertation on the development of the Dallas gay community to complete requirements for a doctorate in history. The Resource Center LGBT Collection of the UNT Libraries is vital to my research. There are over 600 boxes in the collection, covering virtually every organized activity of the Dallas community from 1940 to the present. This collection and the cataloguing of it in such quick order have really made my dissertation possible.

  2. How have Unique Collections changed the way you approach your research, teaching or learning?

    Prior to the collection being obtained by the UNT Libraries, it resided in various storage facilities in Dallas. The boxes were stacked on top of each other, the labeling was sporadic, and access was severely limited. Now, thanks to the work of the UNT Archives staff, I can sit at home in front of my computer, browse through the detailed finding aid, email the staff which box I need to look at, and it will be waiting for me the next time I visit the library. This convenience has allowed me to be much more focused in what I’m researching.

  3. What do you want others to know about your research?

    The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is one of the top ten largest urban areas in the country and home to one of the most vibrant and active LGBT communities in the United States, and even the world. Yet, because of the difficulties in accessing this collection prior to UNT obtaining it, no one has written anything about its history. It was a stroke of luck that, just as I was ready to dive in and do heavy-duty research, this collection moved to UNT where the wonderful staff had it organized and ready for use in less than a year. If it had been this easy to use before, I would probably be researching a different topic.

Karen Wisely is a Ph.D. candidate from the History Department of the University of North Texas whose dissertation topic is the formation of LGBT community in Dallas. This work follows up on her Master’s thesis on the same topic. She is a three-time recipient of the C.M. Caldwell Memorial Award, sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association, which recognizes excellence in historical research and writing on Texas or local history topics. She has presented papers at the Oral History Association’s annual meeting and, most recently, at the East Texas Historical Association’s meeting. Currently, she is a teaching fellow with the History Department where she has taught numerous sections of the American History survey.