Once landfill-bound, the U of M’s Benjamin Karpman Papers are a treasure trove of GLBT history

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Andy Steiner About a decade ago, a large collection of psychiatric records — 21 boxes worth of personal writings, family histories and careful physician’s notes — were discarded in a trash bin outside St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., ready to be tossed in a landfill. Then someone took a second look.It turns out that the pile of “trash” was actually a treasure trove of first-person accounts written between the 1930s and the 1960s by people who were being treated by University of Minnesota-trained psychoanalyst Benjamin Karpman for “non-conforming” sexual behavior and gender identity. Understanding the writings’ worth, their anonymous discoverer made an important decision: to collect them all and send them to the University...

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