Since 1973, The ArQuives (formerly the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives) has been acquiring and preserving material documenting LGBTQ+ history. The ArQuives’s mandate is to acquire, preserve, organize, and provide public access to information and materials in any medium, by and about LGBTQ+ people, primarily produced in or concerning Canada.
Personal Papers and Organizational Records
The ArQuives houses papers and records documenting many Canadian LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations. More detailed information about fonds and collections at The ArQuives can be found on our database.
The ArQuives houses the world’s largest collection of LGBTQ+ periodicals. We currently have over 9,700 unique titles in the collection. The guide “Our Own Voices: A Directory of Lesbian and Gay Periodicals, 1890s to 2000s”, compiled by long-time The ArQuives volunteer Alan Miller, lists more than 7,200 titles from all over the world, most of them held at The ArQuives.
The James Fraser Library
Our collection of books and monographs, named for The ArQuives’s first volunteer archivist, James Fraser, contains over 11,000 titles from both Canadian and international authors. The collection consists of both non-fiction and fiction, including a large collection of “pulp” fiction. Material in the James Fraser Library is non-circulating and available for reference only.
The ArQuives maintains a collection of vertical (subject) files relating to people, organizations, and events. The majority of these files relate to subjects in Canada, while the remainder are organized by the United States and other international countries. Guides to the over 33,000 vertical files can be found on our database.
The ArQuives’s collection of photographs includes prints, negatives, slides, and digital files, documenting LGBTQ+ people, locations, and events, such as demonstrations, conferences, parades, parties, plays and shows. Many of the photographs form part of an archival fonds or collection.
The poster collection consists of thousands of posters, of all sizes, relating to parties, dances, concerts, bars, plays, films, and art exhibitions. A guide to the posters can be found on our database.
The Music and Audio collections contain reel-to-reel tapes, vinyl LPs, audiocassettes, and digital media. The collections consist of all genres including, but not limited to, commercially produced music, oral histories, radio broadcasts, and recordings of events or political protests.
The Moving Images collection includes films, filmstrips, videocassettes, DVDs, and digital media. The collection consists of all genres, including, but not limited to: feature films, documentaries, footage recorded from television programs, original productions, and erotica.
In addition to records and published material, The ArQuives also collects artifacts relating to the LGBTQ+ communities. The artifact collection includes buttons and pins, t-shirts, matchbook covers, trophies and plaques, and leather gear.
The Archives accepts paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other creative works that are created by or have historical and cultural significance for LGBTQ+ Canada. For more details, see the Art Collection Policy.