Service Stories Archive: LGBTQ Oral Histories (SOCY 391 / WGST 398)

Because of the upcoming introduction of a new University website design, existing Service Stories on the site are being migrated to our Service Learning Blog so that they will remain in our archive.

This article was originally published in Fall 2019.


This spring for the third year running, Dr. Lisa Johnson will teach a special topics course which includes an oral history project offering students an opportunity to connect with the LGBTQ community in the upstate of South Carolina, providing the LGBTQ community a means to share their stories and experiences, and making them available immediately and for the future through the Library’s Archives and Special Collections thanks to the efforts of Coordinator of Archives and Special Collections, Ann Merryman.

In its inaugural year, oral histories focused on the stories of selected leaders within the LGBTQ community of the upstate of South Carolina. The 2019 oral histories present the experiences of African American members of the LGBTQ community, also known by many as queer and trans people of color (QTPOC). The focus for 2020 will be transgender and non-binary people. This high-impact learning experience for Upstate students also serves to correct incomplete and biased or distorted historical and social records of the LGBTQ population, a historically underserved community in this region.

Students work in teams of 2-3 to interview and collect oral histories. Pictures of two interview teams and their narrators are provided below.

The University of South Carolina Upstateā€™s Digital Collection are part of the South Carolina Digital Library initiative which provides free access to historic materials such as photographs, manuscripts, journals, books, oral histories, objects, etc. illustrating the history and culture of South Carolina from over 40 cultural heritage institutions across the state. Link directly to the LGBTQ collection at

Partial funding for the project in 2019 was awarded in the form of a grant from the LGBT Fund at the Spartanburg County Foundation. 

Sally McClellan with students.   

Marlanda Dekine with students