2012 saw the formation of Plymouth's LGBT community archive and it's inclusion into the city's archives. Very little held in the those records reflected the lived experience of LGBT people in the city of Plymouth and much of what was there was often concerned with criminality and mental disease. At the same time though, there were people in our community in their seventies and eighties who had witness a incredible transition in their lifetime from a time where homosexual acts between men were illegal to the 2010 Equality Act and its implications for LGBT life. Hopefully no generation would need to witness such a transition again and it felt incredibly important to capture some of that lived experience within the archives.
The Pride in Our Past project with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the involvement of LGBT groups and individual's around the city, the archive collected memorabilia and artefacts but principally oral history interviews that was included in the themes of the Pride in Our Past Community exhibition held in 2012.
The ongoing work of the archive is to continue to collect stories and items which allow people to share their memories and take pride in their own past and contribution to the city.
June 2012 saw volunteers awarded the title of "Most Inspirational Community Archive" by the Community Archives and Heritage Group in their first national awards and the work of the archive has continued and is ongoing.
Pride in Plymouth is committed to providing ongoing support to the Plymouth LGBT Archive with the development of the on line archive, digital media production and publishing.
Through this website and the established Pride in Plymouth network we will continue to promote the Plymouth LGBT Archive and present it's content in various formats and themes.
The Plymouth LGBT Community Archive comprises of the following key components:
1) The Physical Archive
Physical items such as photographs, memorabilia, letters, news sheets flyers and posters are deposited with the Plymouth and West Devon Record office where it is held under the collection number 3901.
2) The on-line archive
The on-line archive can be found at http://plymlgbtarchive.org.uk this a fully expandable searchable resource hosted on the popular community blogging platform wordpress.com. This simple solution can be maintained by many collaborators and editors. Readers can add their views and memories to an article by using the built in commenting facility. Digital media is stored and shared through the following networks:
a) Flickr – Photos and short videos. By February 2013 the archive have stored over 380 pictures on Flickr many of them in Hi-Resolution format.
b) Scribd – Newsletters, scanned documents, computer generated posters and flyers.
c) YouTube – Video files and visualised oral histories where relevant stills are mixed with the audio.
Not only do the above networks provide vast amounts of free or nearly free storage they also help the archive reach and engage with a wider audience.
3) The Mobile Archive
Made up from a selection of the archive content printed on medium designed for portable and temporary displays. This includes pop ups, laminated prints, and an iPad that provides more interactive access to the archive. The portable exhibit can be scaled to fit any event whether indoor or outdoor.
The Plymouth LGBT Archive utilises social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to keep friends and followers up to date with the latest news. Twitter has proven very useful in building links with national archives and other community archives across the UK.
The collaborative Phd student has taken on the role of Archive co-coordinator as the creation and material gathered form a major part of his research. Members of the community that have shared stories or contributed to the archive or Pride in Our Past exhibition have been invited to become a ‘Friend of the Archive’. It is envisaged that from the friends a board of trustees will be formed to oversee the ongoing development of the archive ensuring that that precious stories and content is preserved for future generations to enjoy and research.
The Friends of the Archive will be able raise the profile of the archive by fund raising, supporting the mobile archive, organising and supporting local history and social events.
An Award Winning Community Archive is Born out of the Pride in Our Past Project
The Heritage Lottery Funded, Pride in Our Past project reached completion in 2012 with its own exhibition at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and the formation of the award winning Plymouth LGBT Community Archive. This project website created and hosted by Pride in Plymouth has been transformed providing further links to the rich content held in the Plymouth LGBT Archive and other relevant LGBT History sites, news and events.
The Pride in Our Past project received national recognition in June 2012 through the Community Archives and Heritage Group awards.
Winning the 'Most Inspirational Community Archive'
Read more about the awards and view the press release at the Plymouth LGBT Archive
Work on the Archive is ongoing and throughout LGBT History Month 2013 the archive will be publishing a selection of the oral histories collected as part of the Pride in Our Past project. Pride in Plymouth will continue to support the archive with its digital media, and maintain this site that presents material from the archive in different formats.
Mobile LGBT Archive Display
In addition to the on line archive and physical archive deposited with the Plymouth and West Devon Record office a mobile archive display has been created. This display enables the archive to continue to connect with communities at various events in the region. The mobile archive was launched at the 2012 Plymouth Gay Pride - Pride in the Park where a joint display was on show with the record office. The mobile Plymouth LGBT Archive will be at many events in 2013 and future years.
Pride in Plymouth supports the mobile archive by sharing resource and cost to ensure that the archive can continue to reach the wider community gathering stories and memories from people that may not make contact through other channels. We also believe it is important that LGBT community have a visible presence at as many events as possible in the city.
Content for the mobile archive display can be selected and scaled to suit the event whether indoor or outdoor.
Contact Us if you would like the archive on show at your event.