March 12th, 2008 | Travels and Appearances
Doesn’t this look like the Hall of Prophecies in Harry Potter? It’s the University of Minnesota archives, a network of earthquake-proof vaults 125 feet below the surface of the earth. Also flood proof because they’re below the water table.
Part of my visit to the University of Minnesota last week consisted of a tour of the Tretter Collection, the GLBT archives that are stored here.
Jean Tretter is a guy who started collecting gay and lesbian cultural artifacts back in the seventies. Now his stuff has expanded into this official archive that he maintains at the University. So Jean gave me and a bunch of students a tour of the archives.
Here he is holding a charred book that was rescued from the rubble of the Hirschfeld library after the Nazis burned it down in 1933. Magnus Hirschfeld was an early gay rights advocate and sexologist, and he had this huge library of books about sexuality. This was a biography of the Marquis de Sade, in French.
Next Jean took out a box and started unwrapping something…he told me to put on a pair of white cotton gloves, then at the last minutes thought to ask if I minded “male things.” I assured him that no, I didn’t. Look. It’s a 4,000 year old pre-ptolemaic scribe, writing away on a tablet that’s perched on his gigantic schlong. It’s kinda blurry but I think you can get the gist.
And look, here’s all the extant editions of “Lesbian Nuns,” that Naiad book from the early eighties. Including an advance fake copy with blank pages that was used to show on tv when the Sally Jessy Raphael show did an interview with the editors.
Aren’t you glad someone’s keeping track of all this stuff? I am.