Collection RBSC-ARC-1014 - Archives Collective collection

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Archives Collective collection

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1.09 m of textual records

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Administrative history

The intention of the Archives Collective was to acquire knowledge of the heritage of gay people, and in so doing develop “that sense of pride and security which is so vital to the building of self-confidence.” Run by a BC based group of librarians and archivists, such as Archives Collective founder James Thomas, Ron Dutton, and Rob Joyce, the Archive was founded in 1976 to collect and preserve materials by and about gay groups and individuals in the Pacific Northwest. Many of these items were immediately transferred to other organizations which were better suited for the long-term preservation of the materials. The Archives Collective “placed several thousand items in some twenty archival collections, but mainly in the Canadian Gay Archives… and in UBC Special Library Collections.” After the group disbanded in the late 1980’s, Ron Dutton continued his practice of collecting materials related to gay and lesbian life in BC, and in 2018 his collection was donated to the Vancouver Archives as the BC Gay and Lesbian Archive.

Custodial history

Archives Collective founder James Thomas and other Archives Collective members held collected materials prior to deposit into RBSC and other repositories, such as the Canadian Gay Archives (now ArQives). Materials were donated directly to the Archives Collective by community members and gay organizations.

Scope and content

Collection contents include materials related to various lesbian and gay organizations in Vancouver and Toronto, as well as political activities in the New Democratic party, left-wing organizations, presses and radio. The Gay Liberation movement is widely represented, with Labour, Socialist and Marxist, Women’s Liberation, and First Nations organizations peppered throughout the collection. Significant attention is given to Gay Alliance Towards Equality, the John Damien, Gay Tide and Body Politic legal battles, and Anita Bryant. There is also a significant presence of materials relating to CRFO Co-op Radio.

It was collected and donated by James Thomas, Founder of the Archives Collective. Significant donations were made to the Archives Collective by Randy Notte, a writer and gay advocate based out of Victoria and then Toronto and Vancouver; these donations document his wide range of involvement in the NDP and Socialist groups throughout Canada, especially as they have to do with gay and lesbian rights at that time. Files 2-20 to 6-07 are related to Notte’s activities. The collection is divided into two series, Subject Files (1919-1989) and Archive Administration (1979-1989).

Collection includes materials in the form of letters; pamphlets; posters; political materials, including a number of NDP related items collected by Randy Notte; materials relating to the functions of Gay and Lesbian organizations in Vancouver, Victoria and globally; newspapers and newspaper clippings; and other ephemera.

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Physical condition

Some papers contain water damage resulting in ink spreading. Some newspapers in poor condition and paper is flaking.

Immediate source of acquisition

Collection received from James Thomas, founder of Archives Collective, at various intervals, including donations in 1980, and 1987. Randy Notte also made a donation in 1990 of a significant portion of the existing archive.


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Associated materials

Material associated with the Archives Collective can be found in the BC Gay and Lesbian Archive at the Vancouver Archives, and at ArQuives in Toronto, Ontario.

Materials relating to Archives Collective can be found in the Gay Alliance Towards Equality fonds at UBC Rare Books and Special Collections.

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General note

Content Warning: Researchers should be aware of homophobic materials throughout the fonds.

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Arrangement and Description completed by Matthew White, August 2023

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