Guest blogger: Hana/Connor Yankowitz (Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies & University Archives Student Intern) - Pt. 1
This week we are excited to welcome and hear from one of our talented University Archives student interns, Hana/Connor Yankowitz (Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies '23), in the first of a two-part series tracing their path to the Archives, and their work to uncover the history of gender studies at Stanford.
Hello everyone! :D
I go by Hana or Connor Yankowitz (they/them), and I am a fifth-year Stanford undergrad studying queer art, culture, and history in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program (aka FGSS; formerly known as Feminist Studies). I’m also currently a historical research intern for FGSS at the University Archives, unearthing the history of my favorite interdisciplinary academic program as well as its predecessors in gender and sexuality studies.
I got here on a bit of a strange path. To briefly cover my history with Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies:
In summer 2019, I took Adrian Daub’s two-week Sophomore College class, “LGBT History and Culture in the Bay Area.” My favorite parts of the course were the times we got to check out interesting historical materials in various Bay Area archives, including the one at our own Stanford Library. This class was my first encounter with the lovely Stanford University Archivists– specifically, Josh Schneider, who pulled some materials related to queer student organizing for our class to peruse. I liked the course so much that I ended up declaring FGSS as my major during my sophomore year, in order to keep studying queer history.
My Sophomore College class at our final presentation, Summer 2019
The following year, I became a Program Representative and helped revitalize FGSS’s quarterly newsletter.
Poster for the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 40th Anniversary, at which I spoke as a Program Representative, 2021
Shortly afterward, I spent a year and a half as Band Manager for the LSJUMB (better known as the Stanford Band). In my rare free time as Manager, between running student staff meetings and conducting basketball games, I liked to investigate our organization’s history, working on a comprehensive (and sadly, still quite incomplete) timeline of the Stanford Band from its start as a military-style marching band in the 1890s to its shenanigans in the present day. I found myself intrigued by the amount of local history at Stanford, and thought that getting involved at the Stanford University Archives might be a good way to explore further, beyond the auspices of the band itself.
Some photographs of my time as Band Manager
In February 2022, I wrote to Josh Schneider to ask him if there might be any summer research opportunities available at the archives. He encouraged me to reach out to faculty and staff involved in my areas of interest at the University to see if anyone was looking for archival assistance.
Two months later, Maxe Crandall, associate director of FGSS and my major advisor, emailed Josh and I to give us the exciting news that FGSS was happy to fund my conducting archival research on the history of FGSS, to help in the ongoing effort of uncovering and recording the program’s past.
My pseudo graduation, 2022
The previous summer, my fellow Program Representative Brionna Bolaños had begun the work of writing a Program History as part of their practicum, but had never gotten the chance to finish it. My task, therefore, was to use the Archives’ resources to edit and add to the Program History so that it could be published in a finished state on the FGSS website.
On the Archives side of things, I hoped to create an exhibit on the history of gender/sexuality studies at Stanford for the library’s website.
After some time talking to Josh and learning about the breadth of resources available through the Archives, I determined that the most useful way to compile information would be to create a timeline of gender and sexuality studies at Stanford. This timeline would be largely focused on FGSS, but would also include other events, organizations, and programs, in order to give a better idea of the overall trajectory of feminist studies at Stanford over time. I also started a massive spreadsheet of gender/sexuality studies courses taught at Stanford, hoping to glean some insight about the changing curriculum of feminist studies over the years. I figured that once I had a substantial amount of information in both of these documents, I’d be in a much more informed place to write a historically accurate summary of the program’s past.
I spent my hours at the Archives over the summer reading transcripts of oral history interviews; sorting through old course bulletins; combing Searchworks for feminist-studies-related content; and perusing the archival collections for Feminist Studies (1980-1998); the Graduate Women’s Network; the Clayman Institute; and Stanford syllabi, scanning anything interesting I found that wasn’t already in the library's digital repository.
Oversize posters I found in the Archives that the Libraries' Digital Production Group helpfully scanned for me. Find more of them here!
By the end of the summer, I had a 20-page-long timeline, almost 900 courses on my class spreadsheet, and about 400 newly-scanned documents. But I didn’t feel equipped to write the Program History just yet– I had only gone through about half the Archives’ records on the Feminist Studies program, I hadn’t conducted any oral interviews of my own, and I hadn’t been able to review the materials from the recent celebration of the Program’s 40th Anniversary. In short, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing any key documents or interesting information.
Luckily, Maxe and Josh both agreed to continue supporting my project through Fall and Winter, hence my continued involvement at the Archives (albeit at a slower pace, since the end of the summer also marked a restart to classes, house jobs, and Band events).
With my timeline sitting at 35 pages, I’m currently working on processing the (now over 600) scanned documents for upload into the library’s digital repository; data mining old Stanford Bulletins; and acquisitioning more recent materials from FGSS, as well as (finally!) actually writing the Program History– stay tuned for its publication on the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies website sometime soon.
And stay tuned here for the second installment of my adventures at the Archives next week!
Tabling for the Archives at Reunion Homecoming, 2022
Hana/Connor Yankowitz ('23) is an undergraduate studying queer art, culture, and history in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Stanford University.
About the University Archives
The Stanford University Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to content in any format that documents the history of the university, in support of teaching, learning, and research at Stanford and beyond. Please contact us if you would like to share materials with us, work with us, or if you have any questions about using the collections.