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Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives: Conclusion


Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archive poster

The most significant impact on the historical record of homosexuals in Winnipeg was the formation of the Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archive in 1990. The Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre began collecting records from various organizations and providing access to the public to preserve the documentary heritage of their experiences. Individual members of the resource centre, largely volunteers, received training from the Association of Manitoba Archivists on how to care for historical records and catalogue them. One of the most significant projects undertaken by the Archives was the oral history projects that are now included in the collection. The project was funded by the Provincial Archives of Manitoba to collect stories in two parts. The first regarding homosexuals in Winnipeg dating before 1970, and the second from 1970 to the mid-1980s.

Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archive pamphlet

As Elise Chenier states in her article ‘Hidden from Historians: Preserving Lesbian Oral History in Canada’ (Archivaria, No. 68, Fall 2009) the community efforts of gay and lesbian activists are the sole reason why archives today have even the meager collections that are kept:

In the postwar period most lesbians and gay men worked hard to hide, not preserve, their private lives. Much of what we know about this era results from the efforts of lesbians and gays who in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s initiated and sustained local oral history projects and built community archives to hold their records. (p. 248)

Browse the Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives finding aid for more information on oral histories

The current Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives collection is indebted to the individuals who took the time and care to prepare their historical records in a way that lends itself to public access. Community archives such as those of the Manitoba gay and lesbian community tell us more about the issues and experiences relevant to those living in periods of interest and study. The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives collection is an important example of struggle, organizing, liberation and local people’s history.