Digitizing Our Stories

Two men are in front of large scanners with computers, one sitting, one standing.

As the CLGA enters the 21st century it struggles, like many archives, to keep up with digitization technologies. One of the ways that the CLGA is looking to achieve this has been through partnerships with other organizations such as GALE Cengage Learning, which has been creating the online resource Archives of Sexuality and Gender. The CLGA was one of the first organizations to sign on to the project, and this has led to the digitization of large segments of our holdings.

In particular, GALE has been digitizing the CLGA’s international vertical files, which hold clippings and other pieces of paper ephemera from LGBTQ+ life around the world, our poster collection, and a significant portion of our LGBTQ+ periodical collection (the largest in the world). The project has been managed at the CLGA by Don McLeod, a volunteer since 1984 and the author of Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology, 1964–1975 and Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology, 1976-1981.

The project utilizes Book to Net Public III scanners, which produce high-quality digital images. Once reviewed and edited, the images will be accessible through the Archives of Sexuality and Gender as well as onsite at the CLGA. Don discussed the importance of this work: “This project will allow for access to hundreds of thousands of primary-source documents of LGBTQ+ history that might otherwise be lost. The CLGA has held these paper materials for years, but making them more widely accessible helps to give people a history. It ensures a continuity of knowledge, where members of newer generations can see the work of their predecessors at first hand.”

This project is part of a larger effort by the CLGA to provide increased digital access to our collections. In 2016 a Digitization Committee was created in response to the growing needs of the CLGA to manage and preserve digital resources. As records increasingly make the transition from analogue to digital, it is important to develop the skills, practices, and knowledge needed to ensure accessibility to future researchers.

The CLGA is joined in the Archives of Sexuality and Gender by a number of LGBTQ+ archives and special collections around the world, including the GLBT Historical Society (San Francisco); the Hall-Carpenter Archives at the London School of Economics (London); the Human Sexuality Collection, Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.); the Lesbian Herstory Archives (New York); the National Archives (Kew, England); the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles); and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York).

Author: Jade Pichette, CLGA Volunteer + Community Outreach Coordinator

The CLGA Partners with GALE Cengage Learning

National Portrait Collection