Ongoing oral and digital histories projects lead by members of the Toronto Collaboratory team.

Detail from wall calendarScholars in Residence Digital Collections Lab

Project Leads: Elspeth Brown, Cait McKinney, Juan Carlos Mezo Gonzalez, Sajdeep Soomal, Sid Cunningham
Students: Alisha Krishna, Amal Khurram, Caleigh Inman, Mac Stewart, Zohar Freeman

This project is a partnership with the Jackman Humanities Institute’s Scholars in Residence program. For May 2016, we will be running an intensive digital collections lab with five undergraduate students, out of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, to create three digital collections: 1) “Not a Place on a Map,” Desh Pardesh Festival oral history project (partnership with South Asian Visual Arts Centre); 2) The Mirha-Soleil Ross Archives; 3) Foolscap Oral History Project. Each project is outlined in detail below.



Desh Pardesh ProgramNot a Place on the Map Desh Pardesh Oral History Project

Project Lead: Saj Soomal, SAVAC
Toronto’s Desh Pardesh festival (1988–2001) was a multidisciplinary arts festival that showcased underrepresented and marginalized voices within the South Asian diaspora. In collaboration with SAVAC, we will produce a digital collection that streams these already complete born-digital interviews with artists and activist of colour, and brings additional context to the interviews through digitized visual materials that document the festival. Learn More.



Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 10.41.34 AMTransPartners Project

Project Lead: Elspeth Brown
This project explores the experience of partners of trans* men, focusing on partners who were with their partner before and during at least six months of the transition, however defined (the couple does not have to be together now). 50 interviews have been completed in Canada and the U.S. so far. Learn More.


Desh Pardesh ProgramMirha-Soleil Ross Archives

Project Leads: Cait McKinney and Sid Cunningham
Collaborators: Nora Butler Burke, Aaron Cain, Trish Salah

Mirha-Soleil Ross (b. 1969, Montréal) is a transsexual media artist, activist, and sex-worker, who lived in Toronto from the early 1990s until 2008, the period covered by her fonds at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. The Collaboratory has partnered with the CLGA and Ms. Ross to processes these unparalleled records of trans art and activist histories in the city. The first batch of processing was completed in April 2016 and the collection is now open to researchers. We are building digital collections based on these materials as part of our Scholars in Residence Digital Collections Lab (May 2017), and will be completing oral history interviews with Ms. Ross later in 2017.



DSC01737SRS Activism in Ontario

Project Lead: Nick Matte
This oral history project focuses on the 1998 delisting and 2008 re-listing of sex reassignment surgeries in Ontario (as medical procedures funded by the province). Currently in the interview stage, this project will result in an online exhibit that brings together the voices , memories and experiences of people who were either effected by the policy changes, or who worked to fight for access to quality health care and equality for trans people in Ontario and beyond. Learn More.


foolscap blog picFoolscap Project

Project Lead: Zohar Freeman
We are  digitizing a newly uncovered collection of oral history interviews that comprises 52 tapes contain 42 separate interviews with gay men discussing their experiences of pre– and post Stonewall community life (specifically, the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s). The project was organized by the late John Grube, and also includes a number of tape transcriptions (22 in total) as well as several personal letters regarding potential interviewees. Learn More.