On Tuesday, Dana Porter Library launched an exhibit called “Gender Studies Isn’t New,” that aims to showcase how gender has been studied and researched overtime at UW.
Danielle Robichaud, digital archivist at Special Collections and Archives, said that she thought it was important for members of the library and campus to engage with “what is happening right now in terms of vitriol about gender and identity.”
“When the attacks on campus happened earlier this summer, there seemed to be a suggestion that it was in response to a new or recent focus on issues like gender, sex, identity,” she said. “ Working here in the archives is understanding that issues like gender have been a long-term ongoing discussion.”
The exhibit features two central themes. On one level, it looks at the study of gender on campus dating back to the 1960s. Visitors can also observe the types of research collections and resources that are available for both students and staff.
“You didn’t have to dig up a thread that’s an outlier in the action,” Robichaud said. “This stuff is all readily available and has been captured and documented and studied since the university was founded.”
The whole exhibit took two to three months to create and includes items such as a Gender Basics textbook. The book was authored by a UW professor who wanted to feature multiple perspectives on gender issues, including men and campus members who did not view themselves as feminists.
“My expectation was maybe that those types of communities and activities — at least the advocacy around them — was happening in places like Toronto, or Vancouver, or Montreal,” Robichaud added. “And so I have found it really fascinating to learn that Waterloo has really been pivotal in pushing forward conversations and advocacy related to the LGBTQ+ community.”
The exhibit will be featured in the Special Collections and Archives section of the Dana Porter Library for the rest of the semester.
Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.