June 20, 2024

LGBTQ Oral History Project Highlights Alumni Pride

In 2019, UMW history students interviewed members of Mary Washington’s LGBTQ Alumni Affinity Group as part of Associate Professor Erin Devlin’s Oral History seminar. Today, UMW Libraries’ archiving team has made those interviews available for anyone to access, just in time for Pride Month. Photo courtesy of UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives.

In 2019, UMW history students interviewed members of Mary Washington’s LGBTQ Alumni Affinity Group as part of Associate Professor Erin Devlin’s Oral History seminar. Today, UMW Libraries’ archiving team has made those interviews available for anyone to access, just in time for Pride Month. Photo courtesy of UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives.

Recruited to play field hockey at the University of Mary Washington, Chrissy Bowdren ’11, then a freshman, left practice to get her picture taken for her EagleOne card. Sweating in her uniform, she saw a familiar face in line. She teased her new teammate, Nicole, for being freshly showered and made up, but it was the start of their friendship. And something more.

“We were just kind of inseparable ever since,” she told Shawnya Peterson ’19. “We just got married two years ago.” Peterson, a UMW senior at the time of the conversation, was interviewing Bowdren for her history class.

Today, for the first time, Bowdren’s story and others told by Mary Washington’s LGBTQ alumni, will be available for anyone to hear, as part of UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives. Released during Pride Month, these interviews were conducted in 2019 by students in Associate Professor Erin Devlin’s Oral History seminar, with help from the Office of Alumni Relations. The recordings, transcribed by the students, show how these alums discovered themselves and learned to feel pride at Mary Washington, while shaping queer culture on campus for generations to come.

“Oral history is a powerful tool for amplifying the voices of individuals, especially those who have been marginalized,” Devlin said. “This collection will benefit all of us as we work to more fully capture the diversity of experiences at UMW.” Read more.