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Beth Zemsky Papers, 1974-2014

Identifier: Tretter: Collection 312

Scope and Content

The papers cover Beth Zemsky’s professional interests and career as a therapist, trainer, educator, activist and organizational leader in higher education and the GLBT community in Minnesota and nationally. Extent dates for the collection are 1974-2014. Bulk dates are 1988-2003.

The papers consist of training and teaching materials, presentations, notes, memos, brochures, newsletters, photographs, clippings, organizational minutes, surveys, evaluations, annual reports, drafts of articles written by Zemsky, and research articles, notably on lesbian battering and sexual and domestic violence, AIDS and HIV, multiculturalism and inclusivity in the workplace, transgendered inclusion and social movement building. There is also personal material focusing on Zemsky’s participation in AIDS-related fundraising through distance cycling, and birthday cards and letters. Books in this collection have been separated for cataloging.

Zemsky served from 1999-2006 as Board member and Board Co-Chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and there is an extensive amount of the organization's activity reports and quarterly financial information for that time period in the collection. There is also material concerning Zemsky’s fundraising and donor cultivation in the upper Midwest region.

The bulk of the collection consists of content generated during Zemsky’s tenure at the University of Minnesota from 1992-2007. In addition to institutional reports, programming materials and office correspondence, the collection contains Zemsky’s office calendars offering day-by-day access and insight to Office outreach and collaboration efforts. Researchers interested in the history of GLBT resource centers in higher education should also consult the GLBT Program Office Collection in the Tretter Archives.

Another major area of subject matter in the collection focuses on violence in lesbian, and to a lesser extent, gay relationships. Zemsky created and delivered presentations, Training, and lectures on the subject, as well as writing extensively for publication. Folders containing training and presentation material often include speaking outlines, notes and the handouts used.

A smaller subject area covered within the collection includes material from the GLBT Task Force, which was convened in 1999 to analyze the implementation of the recommendations from the 1990 Select Committee on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns. These documents include the charter, meeting minutes, and reports of the Task Force, as well as additional information on implementation of health care benefits for same-sex partners at the University of Minnesota.

The final subject area within the collection is a small amount of documentation of Zemsky's 2014 trip to Norway, where she was a US State Department-sponsored speaker at the 2014 Euro Pride event in Oslo. In addition to the paper records within the collection, Zemsky donated a flash drive containing photographs of the event. These digital records are not currently available to researchers.


  • 1974-2014


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Restrictions on Access

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

The collection contains some materials restricted to users. Please consult with the Tretter curator for further information.

Restrictions on Use

Please contact staff regarding copyright status of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Biographical Sketch

Beth L. Zemsky was born June 1959, in Jericho, New York. Zemsky attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where she graduated with a BS in 1981. She earned a Masters of Educational Counseling in 1982 and Masters of Social Work in 1983 at the George Warren School of Social Work at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. Zemsky moved to Minnesota in 1986. She worked as a psychotherapist in the Lesbian and Gay Counseling Program at Family and Children’s Services (1986-1990) and as an organizer and training coordinator with the Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council (GLCAC: 1989-1993).

In 1993 she became the first Director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Programs Office at the University of Minnesota. In 1999, she was appointed Coordinator of the University of Minnesota Diversity Institute. She served in both capacities until 2003. From 2003-2007, Zemsky was the University’s Coordinator of Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness. During the 1990s and throughout her tenure at the University, she was also an organizational consultant and trainer in private practice focusing on strategic planning, change management, multicultural organizational development and workplace and family violence prevention, as well as adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College.

Zemsky also served as a member and co-chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Board of Directors from 1999-2005, and was a founding member of the National Consortium of GLBT Resources in Higher Education in 1994. She was named an Education Policy Leadership Fellow in 1996-1997; a Bush Leadership Fellow in 2000-2001; and received the annual Leadership Award from the NGLTF in 2005. Locally, Zemsky was chosen as Grand Marshall of Twin Cities GLBT Pride in 1996 and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Twin Cities GLBT Chamber of commerce for service to the Twin Cities GLBT community in 2008.


18 boxes (17.5 cubic feet)


Folders with similar content have been grouped together intellectually in the finding aid using the following broad categories: Lesbian Domestic Violence and Abuse; University of Minnesota GLBT Programs Office; National Gay Lesbian Task Force; Teaching Materials; Training and Speaking Engagements; and the University of Minnesota GLBT Task Force.

Source of acquisition

The papers were donated to the Tretter Archives by Beth Zemsky in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Related Materials in the Tretter Collection

GLBT Programs Office, University of Minnesota

Toni McNaron Papers

Lisa Albrecht Papers

Tretter Collection Flat Files, 1920-2012

Processing Information

Collection processed by Susan Hoffman in 2013 and Amanda Wick in 2014 and Emily Atchison in 2015. Collection processing has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Beth Zemsky Papers, 1974-2014
Beth L. Zemsky
May, 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Jean Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies Collecting Area