Magazine article American Libraries

An Archive for All: How the Transgender Archives Work to Create Community Connections

Magazine article American Libraries

An Archive for All: How the Transgender Archives Work to Create Community Connections

Article excerpt

University of Victoria (B.C.) Libraries is home to the largest physical collection of transgender-related material worldwide. Lara Wilson, university archivist and director of special collections, explains how the Transgender Archives has evolved from cataloged items to community outreach in its seven years.

In 2007, Aaron Devor, dean of graduate studies and professor of sociology at the University of Victoria (UVic), asked if our libraries were interested in accepting a large donation of archival and rare print materials related to transgender history from the Rikki Swin Institute (RSI) collection, and if we were open to expanding our holdings in this area. The answer to both questions was yes.

RSI was established in Chicago and open from 2001 to 2004. Its collection includes rare books, periodicals, and archives on leading American trans activists such as Virginia Prince and Ariadne Kane, organizations, and such conferences as the annual Fantasia Fair and the International Foundation for Gender Education. The collection took some time to sort and catalog, and the donation was the beginning of a new acquisition direction for us. In 2011, we formally launched the Transgender Archives, which would become the largest physical collection of transgender-related archival and rare print material in the world.

Seven years later, the archives include donations from philanthropist and trans man Reed Erickson and University of Ulster (UK) Trans-Gender Archive collection. We've also focused our efforts on outreach. We want to emphasize the accessibility of the materials and the fact that these histories were being preserved for all--not just academic researchers. Many people have little experience accessing archival and noncirculating library materials, and outreach was our way to turn a potentially intimidating experience into a welcoming one.

The libraries continue to work closely with Devor, who is now the chair of transgender studies at the university--a donation-funded position--and the academic director of the Transgender Archives. The role of the chair is to further this outreach and knowledge mobilization, whether through teaching and mentoring in the area of transgender studies, hosting visiting or local scholars, or providing orientation tours of the Transgender Archives' holdings. Beyond appealing to the UVic population, the chair is committed to creating a safe and positive space where all transgender, gender nonbinary, and two-spirit people can meet and build community. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.