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The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives collection is the result of concerted efforts by the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre (est.1983) staff to compile records about Manitoba’s LGBTTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirit and Queer) history. The Archives, established in 1988, was overseen by the Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archives Committee, a group composed of academics, community members and activists. Primary objectives of the Archives was to preserve the documentary, photographic, and electronic heritage of gay and lesbian Manitobans and to support the research and study of such a collection by scholars and the public. This material was largely collected and accumulated from the donations of local Winnipeg LGBTTQ organizations dating back to the early 1970s. Organizations such as the University of Manitoba student organization Gays for Equality (est. 1973), the Oscar Wilde Memorial Society (est. 1980), Council on Homosexuality and Religion (est. 1978) and Project Lambda (est. 1977) figure prominently in the history of the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community, thus contributing a great deal to the archival content. The largely volunteer staff, namely Chris Vogel and Kenneth Steffenson, of the Resource Centre received archival training over a five year period from the Association of Manitoba Archivists. This training formed the accessioning and cataloguing of the archival material in an efficient and systematized way, leading to an established archival holding recognized by many professional associations and archives in Canada. The archival material was consistently expanded through an active collection policy which advertised in newspapers and gay journals asking the community for records, specifically in the form of oral interviews. An oral history project was undertaken in 1989 by the Resource Centre, through a sponsored grant from the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, to collect the histories of gay men and women who were active in Manitoba prior to 1970. This project provides an important example of the community response to maintaining a consistent record of LGBTTQ history in Manitoba. For scholars, the oral history project is an important groundwork which will be expanded with future efforts to continue to collect oral histories from the 1970s onward.
The Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre was founded in 1983 by the concerted efforts of the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community to raise funds and establish a safe and friendly meeting space. As vocalized by Project Lambda, the goal was to 'provide counseling for gays, a medical centre, a library with positive gay literature, a book shop, a TV room, rooms for lectures and discussions as well as offices for gay organizations.' Fundraisers held at The Old Fellows' Temple on Kennedy Street by various organizations contributed to the realization of this goal. The original location of the Winnipeg Gay Centre was at 275 Sherbrook Street, next door to the gay community space/bar, Giovanni’s Room. The Centre officially began when the campus gay organization Gays for Equality relocated there. In July of 1988 the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre moved out of Giovanni’s Room to new offices at 222 Osborne Street. This new location made room for the growing archival collection and the intent to meet the community's needs. In September of 1999 the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre received a name change to Rainbow Resource Centre and relocated to 170 Scott Street.
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Shultz, Ryan. "Research/Study Leave Report: Winnipeg's Queer History." March 2007.
Vogel, Chris. "Living History: The Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archive," Lambda Letter (September 1990). pp. 4-6.