The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives that have been acquired by the University of Manitoba Libraries are now available in Archives and Special Collections.
The collection was originally accumulated and catalogued by the Winnipeg Gay and Lesbian Resource Centre which became the Rainbow Resource Centre in 1999. This new organization maintained custodial ownership over the Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives but in 2008 they were donated to the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections, followed by a second accession in 2009 and a third in 2010. The primary objective of the Archives was to preserve the documentary, photographic and electronic heritage of gay and lesbian Manitobans and to support research and study by scholars and the public.
The collection includes 13.8 metres of textual records, 69 video cassettes, 117 photographs, 107 negatives, 488 slides, 130 audio cassettes, 15 reel to reel tapes and even 33 t-shirts.
This collection contains issues and information on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and queer history including: comprehensive works, bibliography, reference; gay/lesbian life, lifestyles and concerns; literature and language; visual and performing arts; history and gay/lesbian liberation movement; behavioural sciences; social sciences; philosophy and religion; physical and natural sciences; and AIDS.
“The formation of the Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives is a symbolic culmination of individuals and organizations recording people’s history,” says Shelley Sweeney, head, archives and special collections. “Through this active approach to preservation and self-awareness, an outstanding body of knowledge exists today on the life, literature, art, philosophy and history of the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community dating back to the 1940s.”
A selection of the collection has been digitized and is available online. The digital exhibit gives electronic access to records that illustrate the historical significance of this collection and provides a rare glimpse into the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community from the 1960s to the late 1990s. Included in this exhibit are photographic and textual examples drawn from various subjects, campaigns and organizations that involve Winnipeg LGBTTQ culture.
The digital collection will be officially launched and available for viewing at the 25th Annual Pride Winnipeg Festival at the The Forks on June 3, 2012, at 12:00 pm.
Organizations such as the University of Manitoba student organization Gays for Equality (est. 1973), the Oscar Wilde Memorial Society (est. 1980), Council on Homosexuality and Religion (est. 1978) and Project Lambda (est. 1977) figure prominently in the history of the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community, thus contributing a great deal to the archival content. Chris Vogel and Kenneth Steffenson of the Winnipeg Gay and Lesbian Resource Centre received archival training over a five year period from the Association for Manitoba Archives in order to organize these records.
The archival collection was recently expanded by the addition of materials from an oral history project begun in 1989 by the Resource Centre through a grant from the Provincial Archives of Manitoba to collect the histories of gay men and women who were active in Manitoba prior to 1970. This project provides an important example of the community commitment to maintaining a consistent record of LGBTTQ history in Manitoba. This collection of oral histories has been complemented by the University of Manitoba’s Institute for the Humanities and Archives and Special Collections’ LGBTTQ Oral History Initiative, headed by David Churchill. Projects such as these have added a strong historical timeline to the existing collection, producing varying voices and perspectives. Several episodes of the local cable access program Coming Out will also be added to the Archives’ YouTube channel in the future.
Winnipeg experienced a particularly active movement of well-organized individuals and groups who took it upon themselves to create their own liberation, seeking to advance the rights of gays and lesbians throughout the province. This collection, and this digital archive, record that history.
For more information about the Pride Winnipeg Festival please visit: http://www.pridewinnipeg.com
The website for the Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives is:
For more information, please contact Shelley Sweeney at: 204-474-6350.