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BC Gay and Lesbian archives collection donated to the City archives

May 30 2018

"Not only does the collection reflect the diversity within the LGBTQ2+ community and its evolution over the past 40 years, it documents a community whose lives and activities have historically been underrepresented in archival holdings."

City Hall displaying rainbow flag

The BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA), a collection established and maintained since 1976 by Ron Dutton, an active, long-time member of the Vancouver LGBTQ2+ community, has been donated to the City of Vancouver Archives and is now available to the public.

For over 40 years, Mr. Dutton has acquired and described textual records, photographs, periodicals, ephemera, and audiovisual materials of significance to the LGBTQ2+ community in Vancouver and British Columbia, and provided access to these materials from his home. Concerned with the future of the BCGLA, Mr. Dutton donated the entire collection to the City Archives.

What the collection includes

The collection consists of:

  • 16.4 metres of subject files
  • 8.6 metres of periodicals
  • 2,000+ posters
  • 7,500+ photographs
  • 220+ moving image recordings
  • 60+ sound recordings

The content includes:

  • Video documentation of charity drag balls
  • Extensive photo documentation of Pride Festivals from 1981 to 2009
  • Textual, photographic, and video materials related to HIV/AIDS activism
  • Subject files pertaining to such wide-ranging topics as art, immigration, censorship, gender identity, hate crimes, health services, religion, sports, and youth activism

"We are honoured that Ron has chosen the City Archives as the permanent home for his collection," said Heather Gordon, City Archivist. "Not only does the collection reflect the diversity within the LGBTQ2+ community and its evolution over the past 40 years, it documents a community whose lives and activities have historically been underrepresented in archival holdings."

Quote from Ron Dutton

"The BC Gay and Lesbian Archives was founded in 1976 to collect, organize, preserve and make publicly accessible the ongoing stories of Vancouver's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited communities, from earliest historical times to the present," says Ron Dutton.

"In these 42 years, hundreds of researchers have passed through my home as they examined this ever-expanding collection. At over 750,000 items, it has now outgrown my ability to house it all. I am thrilled that the BCG+L Archives now resides with the City Archives. The Archives has the technical resources and sympathetic staff needed to sensitively manage this collection, ensure its preservation, and position it within the context of the city's overall history. I intend to continue collecting both old and new materials that document my community's evolution, for deposit at the City Archives."

View the files

All 2,181 subject files are now available and can be viewed in the Archives' Reading Room. Periodicals are being processed and will be available by the fall.

Earlier this year, Postmedia donated over two million photographs from the 1940s to 1995 to the City archives, the largest single donation in the City's history.