History and Mission

About iHP
The invisible Histories Project is a fully incorporated 501C3 effective October 12th, 2016.  Donors can deduct contributions that they make under IRS Section 170.  iHP is listed as a public charity as determined by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America.  iHP has the public charity status 170 (b) (1) (A) (vi).  ​

iHP Mission The Invisible Histories Project is designed to be a repository for the preservation of the history of LGBTQ life first in the state of Alabama and then the entire Southeast.  The archive will preserve, collect, and protect the living history of the diversity of the Queer community–both urban and rural. Using the Alabama site as a model, IHP is currently expanding into Mississippi and Georgia with aims to reach the entirety of the Southeast within 10 years. 

IHP focuses on four key elements related to advancing LGBTQ Southern History:
Community Engagement
Archiving, Preservation, Research & Scholarship
Professional Development & Best Practices

IHP acts as an intermediary between institutions and organizations and everyday folks. We strive to break barriers between organizations and their local communities to ensure that preservation and research exist in a co-productive and relationship centered way. IHP is invested in providing scholars with direct access to materials as well as creating a network of people conducting LGBTQ Southern archiving, preservation, education and research to make scholarship more accessible. We focus on providing education of the Queer South to those within and outside the region through speaking, exhibiting, online materials, and publications. Finally, IHP seeks to help develop a new generation of scholars working in the Queer South as well as work alongside other professionals in the field to develop best practices for this work. ​

iHP Goals

In addition to preserving the rich history of LGBTQ Southerners, the project’s goals are to:

  1. develop a timeline of LGBTQ history in each state and across the South along with community/academic programming to highlight our findings,
  2. create experiential learning experiences for students in archives, history, preservation and research, and
  3. establish an off campus, centrally located museum to display these histories as part of a larger Queer History South.

Additionally, iHP seeks to create a counter narrative to the “lacking South” and provide a sense of community and heritage for LGBTQ people. 

Who We Are
The Invisible Histories Project is a community driven project whose goal is the collection and preservation of the complex LGBTQ history of the South. This project strives to provide the South (starting with Alabama) with a connection to its Queer past with an eye on the present and future.

The iHP Board is consists of representatives from around the state who volunteer their time. 

iHP was founded by and is managed by Joshua Burford and Maigen Sullivan. Both Josh and Maigen have worked in higher education as Gender & Sexuality Diversity Coordinators, taught identity related courses at the college level, provided consulting and training on LGBTQ inclusion and competency, worked with the Alabama Safe Schools Coalition (ASSC) and are heavily involved in the Alabama community (as well as other communities throughout the South). Josh holds a MA in American Studies and a Masters in Library and Information Studies. Maigen holds a MA in Women’s Studies and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Studies of Diverse Populations. 

Josh has been working on Queer archiving in the state of Alabama for over a decade. Josh and Maigen began work on the IHP in November of 2015.  The archive currently has over two dozen promised collections including one of the largest lesbian collections in the country and are currently establishing agreements with all 6 LGBTQ Pride organizations across the state to collect their current holdings as well as yearly submission after their festivals and parades. 

Less than 17% of all students in K-12 schools have access to any kind of Queer history (GLSEN, 2015). This means that our LGBTQ youth grow up without any kind of examples of the personal lives activist organizing, or relationships of the people who have come before them. This isolation from the past has been a problem for the Queer community for a century.

The Invisible Histories Project will make our local history available to Gay/Straight
Alliances across the region in an effort to connect students to our past and to inform our future. Our hope is to give this history back to our community so we can empower our youth to imagine what our future will be. Further, we will partner with the ASSC to provide LGBTQ history to students throughout the state. 

At the college level, the iHP will provide guest lectures and special events on LGBTQ history by request. Further, we will work with undergraduate and graduate students to develop a weeklong LGBTQ archive and history program for the summer wherein college students work with local high school students to develop a better understanding of the Queer community in the South.

There is power in seeing your history on display. We want as many people as possible to see all the amazing history firsthand and in all its context. Once materials have been collected, the iHP will host exhibits in galleries and museums across the state and the country. iHP will also be available for presentations and displays by request for community organizations and companies. By being on display we will dispel the myths that our history does not exist and that LGBTQ people haven’t been an integral part of the fabric of the South.

Project Objectives (Past & Future)
iHP has been in the works since 2015 and much work was done behind the scenes during the past 2 years. However, due to the iHP strategic plan and the project officially going public in November 2017, 2018 will be considered “Year One.”

  • Preliminary planning
  • Established connections with national and university archives
  • Began relationship building
  • Developed collection scope and criteria
  • Made preliminary contact with potential board members
  • Solidified promised collections from Year One
  • Developed 3 year strategic plan
  • Outreach to universities for partnership


  • Develop Board of Directors
  • Establish website and marketing materials
  • Partner with UAB and the Birmingham Public Library for archive storage and educational programming
  • Partner with UA for collections processing and educational programming

Year One (2018)

  • Create access to digital collections of Queer media
  • Develop snapshot of LGBTQ history through an informal timeline
  • Create community infrastructure for donation of materials in 3 cities (Birmingham, Tuscaloosa & Huntsville)
  • Establish a traveling collection that can be requested locally and nationally
  • Formalize iHP model for replication in other states
  • Test current LGBTQ collections finding methodology developed by The University of Alabama in partnership with the project to be used across the South
  • Begin groundwork for a Queer History South Network of scholars and archivists across the South
  • Begin Community Mapping program through Alabama Humanities Foundation grant

Year Two (2019)

  • Expanding community infrastructure to 2 additional cities (Montgomery, Mobile)
  • Conference presentations on findings at 2 national conferences
  • Develop traveling collection
  • Complete Community Mapping program through Alabama Humanities Foundation grant
  • Pilot iHP in Mississippi through the University of Mississippi
  • Begin groundwork for satellite location in Georgia through the University of West Georgia

Year Three (2019)

  • Expansion of project to target rural communities in Alabama
  • Acquisition of an off campus, public display option (museum)
  • Expansion and continued support of Mississippi satellite site
  • Pilot iHP in Georgia through the University of West Georgia
  • Partner with large national archive(s) to develop exhibit(s)

Keeping LGBTQ+ History Alive is Important