In May, I started an internship at the City of Vancouver Archives with the goal of supporting community outreach and engagement with the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA). This opportunity was provided through UBC’s Public History Initiative, which gives UBC students like myself an opportunity to apply academic skills outside the classroom and expand community engagement with history. Being both a history student and a member of the LGBTQ2+ community meant that this position held particular importance for me, and I had a passionate interest in increasing the visibility and public use of these holdings.
The BCGLA Audiovisual Recordings series consists of 43 audio tapes and 93 video tapes. The audio recordings include show tapes for drag performances at B.J.’s Club, various interviews for Angles, and Gay Games III coverage. The video recordings consist of drag events; fashion shows; made for television documentaries and specials; the Little Sister’s 2000 trial; and footage from various Pride Parades.
With LGBTQ2+ history month in October right around the corner, it is a perfect time to look toward the future of the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photo identification project. With East Side Pride, the Pride Proclamation, and the Sunset Beach Festival, it was a busy summer for the Archives and we are excited for what the coming months will hold. Photo identification and community engagement are ongoing processes, and we have some exciting things planned for the fall to ensure that there is continued work being done with the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives. For now, we have a couple important announcements regarding the project.
We are pleased to announce that our online tool for photo identification is up and running and can now be accessed here. This online mechanism provides instructions for how to browse and search the photos on the Archives’ website as well as tools to supply information and comments. Photo identification is fundamental for developing historical research on LGBTQ2+ history in BC as well as being important for the access, remembrance, and sharing of these photos within the community. We are hoping that this tool allows people to more actively engage with the BCGLA photo collection and have an accessible way to share their knowledge.
We are also in the
process of organizing a formal photo identification event later this fall. We
will be putting on a large scale version of what we had at our Pride booths
with even more binders and digital copies of the photos. We are excited for the
future of the BCGLA and would love to hear from you if you have any insights on
potential groups or organizations that would be interested in attending photo
identification events or would like to be in touch with the Archives team.
If you would like to
get more information on the photo identification tool or events, please feel
free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay tuned on both
Facebook and Twitter for updates regarding
this event and other BCGLA news.
Pride season is in
full swing in the city, including here at the City of Vancouver Archives! As a
community partner for this year’s Pride, we have had an exciting month of
sharing our LGBTQ2+ holdings at events and through new initiatives.
First, thanks to support from the Vancouver Pride Society, we had a booth at East Side Pride on June 22nd. There, we shared just some of the 5,400 digitized photographs in the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection, as well as information on our other LGBTQ2+ holdings. We loved meeting and hearing stories from the many community members who visited us!
We were also thrilled with the initial results of our photo identification initiative, which we launched at East Side Pride. The identification of people in photographs is an important part of completing the historical record, and has been the focus of many archives projects. Library and Archives Canada’s Project Naming, for instance, has had immense success since the early 2000s in identifying Indigenous people in archival photographs. Here at the City of Vancouver Archives, we’re reaching out to members of the LGBTQ2+ community for help in identifying people in the BCGLA collection. Of the more than 5,400 images that have been digitized, over 1,000 depict people who are currently unidentified. Identifying them will help to strengthen the collection, deepen knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ2+ history in this province, and ensure that community members’ voices and stories are heard and preserved for the future.
The BCGLA Photograph series contains about 7,500 photographs. There are a few photographs that date from as early as the 1890’s and continue until 2014. The photographs are arranged under file titles that reflect their subject matter. Ron Dutton, who collected and maintained the collection for decades before donating it to the Archives, provided access to the photographs through this arrangement and we have maintained his order. The file titles include: theatre, comedy, performance arts, dance, writers, artists, musicians, portraits, politicians, female impersonation, Stonewall Festival, HIV/AIDS, the Vancouver AIDS Memorial, political activism, Gay Games III, nightclubs, Vancouver Lesbian Connection, Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Community Centre, Vancouver Prime Timers, youth groups, leather community, First Nations, sports, Hiking Club, businesses, LGBTQ2+ community organizations, Vancouver Pride Festival and the Victoria Pride Festival.
The Archives is very excited to be a community partner for Pride this year, and would like to thank the Vancouver Pride Society who has invited us to several events throughout the summer! First up, we will be at East Side Pride at Grandview Park from 11am to 6pm on Saturday June 22. There, we will be sharing some records and other materials from the LGBTQ2+ community’s past. We look forward to meeting the community outside the Archives’ walls and talking more about our holdings.
Our booth will have a selection of photos from past events, protests, and demonstrations, many of which took place in East Vancouver in the 1980s and 1990s. These demonstrations of solidarity, visibility, and strength were critical for the LGBTQ2+ community, and laid the foundations for present and future celebrations and resistance. We acquire LGBTQ2+ materials to preserve these stories for future generations, and ensure that BC and Vancouver queer histories are remembered and understood. Our presence at East Side Pride is part of our goal to make these records accessible to the public. Continue reading →
We are very pleased to announce that all 1,936 posters in the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection are now available online, thanks to funding from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS). The B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives Audiovisual and Graphic Material Digitization Project was chosen as one of 21 national projects that received funding from the NHDS late last year. This funding, made possible thanks to the generous support of a private donor, allows cultural heritage institutions and organizations to digitize and make accessible Canadian documentary heritage materials. The Archives received $71,388 to digitize, describe and provide online access to almost 2,000 posters, 5,400 photographs, and over 200 video and audio recordings from the BCGLA dating back as far as the 1940s.
The digitization project began by re-housing, describing and digitizing the posters series. With a grand total of 1,936 posters, the collection represents a broad range of events and is an interesting example of the history of graphic design in Vancouver. Continue reading →
Back in May we announced that longtime LGBTQ2+ community archivist and activist Ron Dutton had donated his entire collection, known as the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives, to the City of Vancouver Archives.
Since then, we’ve been hard at work getting the collection processed and available to researchers. Subject files have been available since the summer, and we’re delighted to announce that the Periodicals series is now fully processed and available in the Reading Room. The series contains a broad range of titles ranging from community magazines and newspapers to newsletters, activity and event guides, comics and zines, representing a diverse spectrum of LGBTQ2+ experiences.
Detail from back cover of an issue of Faggo Punk & Queer Zine, 2000. Reference code: AM1675-S2-F536
The earliest publications in the Periodicals series date from the 1950s and were all published in the United States by early LGBTQ2+ rights organizations. Titles include The Mattachine Review (published by the Mattachine Society), One (published by ONE, Inc.), and The Ladder (published by the Daughters of Bilitis). Continue reading →