Queer Archives in Canada

In working on Calgary’s Queer history, the team has been in contact with others across Canada also conducting LGTBQQ research. It’s exciting to meet people passionate about their own projects, to look at the extensive archives and find those great nuggets of information, and read the amazing stories of courage. The types of archives varies greatly: from institutional collections focused on gender and sexuality, to smaller ones in people’s homes. We’re currently creating a database of existing archives in Canada, and have some interesting highlight to share.

The oldest in Canada is the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA). Started in 1973 in a tiny cramped office, the archive has grown to become the largest independent LGBTQ+ archives in the world. Its home in Toronto is literally an old house built in 1858. With a focus on Canadian content, their collection includes personal papers, unpublished documents, publications, audio-visual material, works of art, photographs, posters, and other artifacts. They also host exhibitions. February’s is “Code, Read: Hollywood’s Hays Code and the Queer Stereotypes of the Silver Screen.”

Transgender pioneer Virginia Prince. University of Victoria Transgender Archives

One of the few exclusive transgendered archives is at the University of Victoria. Since 2007 the Special Collections Transgendered Archives has actively been acquiring documents, rare publications, and memorabilia of persons and organizations that have worked for the betterment of transgendered people. The Transgender Archives is accessible to the public, and available to faculty, students, and scholars for teaching and research. The incredible part of this archive is the sheer amount of personal material donated from people across North America. One well-known activist Betty Ann Lind (1931-1998), a founder of the Delta Chi Tri-ESS (Society for the Second Self) chapter of Washington, DC in the early 1970s, the predecessor to the TransGender Educational Association of Greater Washington.

The Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity at the University of Saskatchewan began as a private collection. Started by its namesake when he was employed by the University Library, Richards developed and help acquire many impressive collections of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender materials, including organizational documents, collections of lesbian and gay pulp literature, magazines and newsletters published in LGBT communities, documentation about theatrical cross-dressing, novels and nonfiction published before 1969, and material on the Gay Rights movement. As of September, 2014, approximately 3,319 titles had been added to the Richards collection.

For more information about Queer archives in Canada, contact us.

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