Lesbian activist Mev Miller of Cranston has received a $2,000 grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities for her new project: Wanderground: Archiving Lesbian Legacies, Words, Creativity in Rhode Island.
This one-year individual grant supports research into Rhode Island lesbians’ relationships with and contributions to the late-twentieth-century Women In Print Movement, and their existing personal collections related to the movement. The research will primarily take the form of surveys and interviews, as well as visits to existing lesbian archives, and will culminate in a presentation of findings via a website/blog, physical display, and presentation event.
As of May 1, lesbians who live or have lived or worked in Rhode Island are invited to reply to a survey to share their ideas and experiences. All responses are anonymous, unless individuals add their name to the mailing list. Surveys can be accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Wanderground. A Spanish version is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Wanderground-Spanish. Paper copies in English or Spanish can be received by contacting Wanderground. The survey will remain open until November 15. COVID-safe focus groups for more in-depth discussions will be offered starting in June.
The Wanderground project will use the survey responses, focus groups, and additional research to lay the foundation for developing Wanderground, a lesbian archive in Rhode Island. Its mission is to collect and display a broad array of lesbian publications and artifacts from many places, including Rhode Island, in order to keep them alive and visible to current and future lesbians.
As early as the 1960s, lesbians began to more openly express their feelings and life experiences in poetry, stories, and thought. The Women in Print Movement (1970s-1990s) emerged as lesbian-focused writers, publishers, and bookstores positively shaped and affirmed lesbian thought and writing. Despite adversity, those vibrant spaces and voices encouraged women/lesbians, to discover and affirm their own identities, claim their own strength and power, and gain support and a sense of well-being. They had a profound effect on lesbians struggling to come out. As lesbians came to an awareness of themselves as lesbians, they found each other and formed alliances and communities.
Mev Miller has collected hundreds of those national publications and other lesbian cultural artifacts from that heyday, and wants to connect with other Rhode Island lesbians who may have collected similar materials. Since she did not live in Rhode Island during that time, she is also curious to learn more about what lesbian works or publications contributed to lesbian visibility and activism in Rhode Island.
This Wanderground Research Project is made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. For more information write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.wanderground.org.