Lesbian Oral History Project needs contributors!

Allison Brewer and Anita Martinez interview Patricia Martinson (centre)

2021-11-17 • Halifax

“I don’t think I have anything important to contribute!”

Archivist Rachel Moore says staff at the Nova Scotia LGBT Seniors Archive often hear this statement from queer women when approached about potential donations. The archive is a collaborative community project aimed at developing an accessible collection of records that document the activities of LGBT seniors from Nova Scotia. Operating within the Dalhousie University Archives, NSLGBTSA collects a wide range of paper records, visual materials, and other ephemera.

Photo: Allison Brewer and Anita Martinez interview Patricia Martinson (centre)

While the Archive has been successful in collecting records of the experiences of gay men across the province, Moore says it has been harder to track down records of the experiences of women and other gender diverse individuals. “Historically, organized LGBT activism in the province hasn’t focused on women’s issues specifically, and many of the major legal challenges here have had male litigants” says Moore. “Outside of personal journals, everyday experiences like coming out don’t generate a lot of physical records, so there’s a lot of history that goes undocumented.”

The Archive has recently received funding from the Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage for its Lesbian Oral History Project, which is meant to help broaden NSLGBTSA’s existing collection. The project pairs volunteers with senior participants for informal interviews about the seniors’ experiences. The resulting conversations are recorded, transcribed, and added to the archive’s holdings.

About the project, Moore says, “We wanted to create an opportunity for lesbians and other queer women and gender diverse people to talk about their lives’ experiences and to share what parts of their history they feel are important to pass on.”

NSLGBTSA is currently in search of interview subjects for this project. Interviews are open to all women over 55 years old, including trans women, Two Spirit, and non-binary people. If you are interested in being interviewed for this project, please send an email to NSLGBT@Dal.ca.

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