Collection Glimpse: The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Arcvhies

This is the first post in a new series of posts entitled “Collection Glimpses.”  Each post in the series will focus on a unique collection, innovative repository, or a not well known cultural heritage institution.

We are family button- Karen Andrews. CLGA

The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) is located in Toronto, Ontario and was founded in 1979.  CLGA aims to “acquire, preserve, organize, and give public access to information and materials in any medium, by and about LGBT people, primarily produced in or concerning Canada.”  Currently CLGA is the second largest LGBT archive in the world.

The CLGA’s archival holdings are unique not only in their subject matter but in the inclusion of nontraditional archival material types.  For example, the CLGA has an extensive collection of t-shirts, buttons, matchbooks, erotica, and other material related the the Canadian LGBT community.  The CLGA also has a variety of more traditional archival material including personal and organizational records, photographs, artwork, cartographic material, and audio-visual items.

 In addition to the extensive holdings of the CLGA, the Archives has an rich publication history. Since 1979, the CLGA has published or helped publish 15 works  on Gay and Lesbian heritage and culture.

The current downside of the CLGA is the limited hours the Archive is open to the public.  Recently, this lack of on site availability has been partially compensated by the digitized holdings which can be browsed and searched online.  However, currently only a small percentage of items have been made available online and most researchers are still reliant on the physical holdings of the CLGA.

Despite the limited hours, the CLGA is the best resource for primary source material on the Canadian LGBT heritage.  The grassroots and community based nature of the CLGA is evident in its holdings, collection policies, and outreach.

Photo credit: Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives