2012 saw the formation of Plymouth’s LGBT community archive and its 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 witnessed an 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, collected memorabilia and artefacts but principally oral history interviews that were included in the themes of the ‘Pride in Our Past’ community exhibition that had a nine week run at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery in 2012.
Many members of the community who contributed and volunteered on the Pride in Our Past project went on to help Pride in Plymouth deliver the city’s first proper outdoor pride in 2012. Since then our volunteer base has grown considerably as has the pride festival and other events we host.
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. The archive is coordinated and maintained by Pride in Plymouth Director Dr. Alan Butler who created the archive and exhibition as part of his Phd studies with Plymouth University.
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 remains 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. Bringing the archive under the umbrella of Pride in Plymouth not only offers security for the community assets but also widens the options for future funding and ongoing development of this important community resource.
The Plymouth LGBT Community Archive comprises of the following key components:
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 September 2014 we had stored and shared over 900 photos, now in 2016 the collection has exceeded 1,500 images many are available in Hi-Resolution format. We have captured all the events organised by Pride in Plymouth Volunteers, along with the many other events we support.
b) Scribd – Newsletters, scanned documents, computer generated posters and flyers. We also have a retrospective of the Pride in our Past Exhibition (2012) in PDF magazine format stored in our Scribd space.
c) YouTube – Video files and visualised oral histories where relevant stills are mixed with the audio. We will seek further funding to support the editing and digitisation of the oral histories collected so far making our history more accessible to many people across the globe.
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. Many of the images from the Pride events organised by us at Pride in Plymouth have been included and shared across the globe – Putting Plymouth Pride on the International Pride Map.
3) The Mobile Archive and Pop up Exhibition
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 digital displays that provides more interactive access to the archive. The portable exhibit can be scaled to fit any event whether indoor or outdoor.
If you would like Pride in Plymouth to bring Plymouth’s LGBT history and talks to your organisation or event then please use the form below to make your enquiry or you can call us on 07935306029