LGBTQ archives provide accessible queer histories

The UBC library system has acquired a new addition to its archives. “LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940, Part II” is an archive of primary documents relating to LGBTQ life and history. If you don’t care about these UBC archives, you really should. They’re an excellent resource for your academic life, plus they provide an insight into history through primary sources.

Collections and Reference Librarian at Koerner Library Keith Bunnell spoke about the importance of the database, saying that “it’s a part of history that was buried for a long ... time and thanks to people who collected material [like] this, we can look at that.”

The database features around 1.5 million documents with everything from newspaper clippings to personal letters, ACT UP photographs to bathhouse ticket stubs.

When asked why one should take advantage of a resource like this, Bunnell asked “Why wouldn’t you? ... These are the primary sources ... [and] this is a lot more fun than just reading secondary books. This is the real kind of research that you do.”

Co-coordinators for Out on the Shelves, the LGBT2QIA+ library on campus, echoed the excitement in a written statement to The Ubyssey: “We’re very excited about UBC making strides to explicitly include and develop queer resources. Not only is it important to support scholarship and research generally, but focusing specifically on queer history and queer experiences as records of an enduring queer community are essential; having a shared history to investigate, explore, and pass on is especially meaningful in light of all the history in our community which has lost and censored over the years.”

Bunnell said his favourite pieces in the archives were the poster collection and the periodicals.

“It’s almost as if you can reach out and touch the material ... it really gives that impression.”

LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940, Part II is available online through the UBC library website.