The Transgender Archives At the University of Victoria
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The Transgender Archives At the University of Victoria
Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria
Transgender Archives Stacks UVic.jpg
LocationUVic Libraries, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, British Columbia, V8P 5C2
Items collectedtrans, non-binary, Two-Spirit
Size162 linear metres (531 ft)
Other information
DirectorAaron Devor (academic)

The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria is the "largest transgender archive in the world".[1]

The collection is located at the University of Victoria Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives (Mearns Centre for Learning), in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and is co-ordinated by founder and academic director Aaron H. Devor and managed by Director of Special Collections and University Archivist Lara Wilson.

All holdings of the Transgender Archives are accessible to the public, free of charge, for personal research, investigation, and exploration.


While there are numerous lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, or LGBT, archival collections in North America, only a few exclusively feature trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit material.

The genesis of the Transgender Archives occurred in 2005 with a conversation between the founder of the archives, Aaron Devor, and Rikki Swin, a one-time Chicago manufacturer of plastic injection moulding and founder of the Rikki Swin Institute who moved to Victoria in 2007.[1][2]

The discussion led Swin to donate her institute's entire material holdings to the University of Victoria Libraries' Archives and Special Collections. Swin's founding donation is one of three major donations held in the archives.

The second major donation of material occurred when the daughter of Reed Erickson donated her father's extensive papers to the archives. Reed Erickson, founder of the Erickson Educational Foundation, died in 1992.

The third major donation occurred when Professor Richard Ekins donated the entire University of Ulster (Northern Ireland, United Kingdom) Trans-Gender Archive.

Officially opening in 2011, the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria has gathered other smaller donations and has grown to be "exceptional in its focus, size, and scope"[3] due to its unique position as being one of the only archives in the world that institutionally houses material exclusively reflecting trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit experiences.

Libraries and the LGBTQ community lists the Transgender Archives in their List of LGBTQ Archives/Libraries/Special Collections as one of the only archival institutions that exclusively houses trans material.


The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria contains archival material from both large and small trans organizations and focuses on the contributions of activists and researchers working for the betterment of trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people.[1]

While the archive currently emphasizes collections from North America and Europe, there are over 20 countries represented in the collection reflecting over a century of activism and research; if the materials were all lined up along one long shelf, the collection would stretch the length of one-and-a-half football fields.[4]

Holdings include: approximately 2,000 books, including many rare and first editions; large collection of informational pamphlets and booklets produced by advocacy organizations for educational purposes; historical and organizational records for several significant trans activist groups including personal papers from some leaders; international newsletters from trans communities; multimedia collection representing and recording trans experience; and a large collection of ephemera.[3]

At approximately 162 linear metres (531 ft) of books, periodicals, and archival materials, the collection is the "largest trans-focused archival collection in the world".[3]

Approximately 25 per cent of the collection is cataloged and is available to the public, with 60 per cent of the collection reflecting male-to-female experiences.[1]

While the archives is accessible to the public, free of charge, key documents are slowly being made available online (see external links).

List of the archives' largest collections

  • Rikki Swin
  • Ari Kane/Fantasia Fair
  • barbara findlay. Q.C. / Kimberly Nixon
  • Betty Ann Lind
  • International Foundation for Gender Education
  • Merissa Sherrill Lynn
  • Reed Erickson
  • Stephanie Castle / Zenith Foundation
  • University of Ulster TGA collection
  • Virginia Prince
  • Aiyyana Maracle


In 2014 founder and academic director Aaron H. Devor published the book The Transgender Archives: Foundations for the Future,[5] featuring the collection of the Transgender Archives. The publication was a finalist in the 27th Lambda Literary Awards ("Lammys") in the category of "LGBT nonfiction".[6]


Moving Trans History Forward conferences are a series of international conferences, founded and led by the Chair in Transgender Studies and the Academic Director of the Transgender Archives, which draw community activists, researchers, educators, artists, service providers, and allies of all ages from around the world. Conferences consider the history of trans activism and research, and the issues which impact trans, non-binary, and two-spirit people today locally, nationally, and globally.

The first conference, held at the University of Victoria, March 21-23, 2014, was entitled "Moving Trans* History Forward." Researchers and activists gathered to retrieve and preserve the stories and records of transgender pioneers of the early 1960s onwards.[7][8]

The second conference, entitled "Moving Trans History Forward: Building Communities - Sharing Connections," took place at the University of Victoria, March 17-20, 2016. It has been hailed as the largest transgender conference in Canadian history.[9] Trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) community-based scholars and activists, academics, archivists, librarians, family members, and allies of trans and GNC people explored preserving and recounting the history of trans and GNC people and communities in all eras and regions of the world. Events included: keynote speakers Jamison Green and Martine Rothblatt, oral presentations, posters, art exhibits, feature-length trans-themed film Two4One, panel discussion with founders of trans activism and research.

The third conference, entitled "Moving Trans History Forward: From Generation to Generation," took place at the University of Victoria March 22-25, 2018[10]. The conference registered 300 people from 11 countries in Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East, and drew 600 people to the largest event. Kent Monkman, a Canadian Cree Two-Spirit artist, delivered one of the keynote addresses, with Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the U.S., presenting the second keynote address.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d Dedyna, Katherine (October 31, 2012). "UVic now has the largest transgender archive in the world". Dave Obie. The Victoria Times Colonist. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ "Rikki Swin Institute (RSI)". The Transgender Archives University of Victoria. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Devor, Aaron (Summer 2014). "Preserving the Footprints of Transgender Activism: The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria" (PDF). QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. 1 (2): 200-204. doi:10.1353/qed.2014.0043. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ Devor, Aaron. "Moving trans history forward". The Ring: University of Victoria. University of Victoria. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ Devor, Aaron (2014). The Transgender Archives : Foundations for the Future (PDF). Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.: University of Victoria Libraries. ISBN 978-1-55058-524-7. Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ "27th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists". Lambda Literary Foundation. Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ Smart, Amy (March 20, 2014). "Trans pioneers to lead University of Victoria symposium". Dave Obie. Times Colonist. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ "Pioneers of transgender activism". CBC News. Retrieved 2015.
  9. ^ Meuse, Matt (March 19, 2016). "UVic to host largest transgender conference in Canada University home to one of the world's largest transgender archives". CBC News. Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ "Moving Trans History Forward - University of Victoria". Retrieved .
  11. ^ "Moving Trans History Forward conference aimed at more than LGBTQ community - Victoria News". Victoria News. 2018-03-19. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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