Ruth Ellis Center Project

Kathryn Berringer

This project builds upon a Rackham Public Scholarship grant to continue an archival and oral history project in collaboration with the Ruth Ellis Center, a nonprofit organization providing social and medical services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth in metropolitan Detroit. Following a community-based participatory research model, the design of this project has been directed and informed by youth and staff at the Ruth Ellis Center and focuses on the production of an interactive, multimedia history of the center and the communities in which it is embedded. Kathryn Berringer, PhD Candidate in Social Work & Anthropology will coordinate a youth-driven research project relevant to both the center and members of its Youth Advisory Board (YAB), as well as facilitate and organize trainings for youth on topics relevant to our research (e.g. ethnographic methods, videography, photoethnography, and the principles of participatory action research). This work will involve documenting various intersecting histories: the organizational history of the Ruth Ellis Center; the history of the center’s namesake, Ruth Ellis – a Black lesbian community leader who provided informal care to young people throughout her life; the history of the building in which the center is housed – a red brick theater built in 1916 next to the Highland Park Ford Factory – and the neighborhood in which the building is located in Highland Park, Michigan, a city bordered on all sides by the city of Detroit. In documenting these histories, Kathryn and her collaborators will be working not only to collect and preserve an archive that might otherwise disappear, but also to elevate the histories of those who have worked to make the Ruth Ellis Center possible – and, in turn, to elevate the voices and stories of youth at the Ruth Ellis Center today.  

Library Mentor:  Julie Herreda