Welcome to my website! My name is Callie Swaim-Fox and this is my capstone project for my Archives Concentration at Smith College. I just have a few notes about the website and terminology.
First of all, I’m using the term “queer” on this website to describe LGBTQ+ people and people that have transgressed gender and sexual norms throughout history. Many people in the past, especially the lesbians of the 1980s that I write about, wouldn’t have used this term to describe themselves. However, it is a really useful umbrella term that can help encompass a wide variety of sexual and gender identities. I try to be specific about identity labels when possible, but the word “queer” has helped me describe a large group of people and connect people past and present who expressed their gender and sexuality in a variety of ways.
This website is called “Queer Social Worlds at Smith College” in reference to the goal of the creators of the 1982 Smith College Lesbian Alliance Survey. They stated that they wanted “to advance understanding of the lesbian experience at Smith and of the social worlds of those students of particular relevance to the Alliance.” One aspect I have loved about Smith are these “social worlds” that LGBTQ people create here, and have created here for more than a hundred years. These worlds look different over time, but whether through half-man dances, radical debutante balls, or convocation traditions, Smithies have continued to create queer “worlds” for themselves and each other. I hope to bring that history to the forefront and honor it through this website.
There is some contextualizing information in the first tab about the history of LGBT life at Smith, but the majority of my website focuses on the 1982 Survey that the Smith College Lesbian Alliance conducted and what it can tell us about LGBT Smith students. Then, I’ve created a modern survey for LGBT Smithies today to compile results we can compare to the 1982 survey. Finally, there are a variety of photos on the “Queer at Smith: Then and Now” tab.
I want to note that I have pictures from the Smith College Archives from lots of different time periods. Although I picked all the pictures to show ways that people transgressed gender or sexual norms or to show queer community, I want to note that I don’t know, and we can’t assume, the gender or sexuality of any of these individuals. If you or a loved one is pictured on this website and you want the image taken down, please let me know through this form.
I hope you enjoy exploring the website and that you learn about Smith, and maybe even yourself!