As the Collaboratory works to connect LGBTQ digital histories projects across Canada and the U.S., our Collaborators share resources and expertise, and develop new methods in conversation. We invite you to meet our collaborating scholars – read on to learn more about some of the incredible work they have underway.
Dr. Aaron Devor, (PhD, FSSS, FSTLHE), is the Founder and Academic Director of The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria, the Founder and Inaugural Chair in Transgender Studies, the Founder and Host of the Moving Trans History Forward conferences, and a Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of Victoria.
Let’s start with your name, pronouns, and honorific.
Dr. Aaron Devor. He/Him
We’ve heard that aspects of the Transgender Archives are soon to be digitized! What prompted that decision? Which materials will you focus on first, and why?
Access to our collections is a high priority for the Transgender Archives. Putting our collection up online makes them available to people who are unable to visit. We are attempting to prioritize the digitization of our most requested items. A number of important periodicals held by the Transgender Archives have already been digitized and are being posted online as they become available: e.g., Transvestia, FTMI Newsletter, EEF Newsletter. We have also digitized many documents from Fantasia Fair, the longest running gathering of Trans People in the Western world (since 1975) and many, many other documents. We currently have about 800 items posted on the Digital Transgender Archives and we have recently launched a new discovery tool at https://www.uvic.ca/transgenderarchives/discovery-tool/index.php that has links to both our hard copy and digital collections.
What challenges have you faced in digitizing the TGA’s contents? How have you responded to them?
Our biggest challenges have been prioritizing what should go up online first and finding enough staff time to get the scanning done. As I mentioned above, we’re trying to respond to user requests and prioritize the most requested items. Staffing time will continue to be a challenge.
What position does community and community engagement play in the work of the Transgender Archive?
Many brave souls created our trans communities. Everything we have in the Transgender Archives was created by our communities. There would be nothing to archive without the work of community. We would not have a Transgender Archives without the generous contributions of members of the trans community. All but less than one metre of our 160 metres of materials have been donated to us by community members who have the foresight and wherewithal to collect and retain records of our history before donating them to us.
The whole point of having Archives is so that people will use them to access our history. We welcome the public into our archives. We are a public institution and the archives belong to them. There is no charge to use our archives and no membership of any kind is required. The Chair in Transgender Studies serves as the Academic Director of the Transgender Archives, and the Chair in Transgender Studies offers fellowships to help with the expense for both university- and community-based scholars to visit the Transgender Archives.