Quotable History, 1980

“Beth Hodge: Do you ever feel invisible in your role as archivist?

Deborah Edel: Yes, I have talked sometimes about the loneliness of the long-distance archivist and the ambivalence that I experience. I think you’ve expressed it more, Joan [Nestle], and I think you feel it even more strongly because you’re a writer. It’s this feeling of ‘here we are, doing the collecting,’ the collecting and the preserving and the day-to-day stuff, and there s no time for me to read much of what’s going on. But it is because of the [Lesbian Herstory] Archives that women are doing this incredibly fascinating research. They’re spending five weeks at this library and three weeks at that library, taking the time to dig into women’s lives. They are writing up their research, and they’re publishing their articles. There’s a visibility to what they’re doing, but there isn’t for us.

Joan Nestle: There is a loneliness to being the cherisher of everyone else’s voice. We have our own voices that sometimes we want to express. Part of the problem is that this is the first time that something like this has been done. Regional archives are being set up more and more, but we have no community yet of other women that we can sit around with and just complain or share problems.”

— From printed interview of Joan Nestle and Deborah Edel (of the Lesbian Herstory Archives), interviewed by Beth Hodge, “Preserving Our Words and Pictures,” in (Sinister Wisdom: A Journal of Words and Pictures for the Lesbian Imagination in All Women 13 (Spring, 1980), 101-105). Accessed online on October 16, 2018, at Independent Voices: An Open Access Collection of an Alternative Press, which makes available digitized images from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, Duke University.

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