February is LGTBQ+ history month in the UK and library blog is celebrating by featuring posts about resources for exploring LGTBQ+ lives in the past, present, and future. This first post in our series is about one of our online archives. We would love to hear your comments and questions about the posts: please tweet us @GCWLibrary, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tell us your thoughts in the comments section at the end of the post.
Adam Matthews Explorer (AM Explorer), is one of the library’s newer databases, and contains a huge range of online archives organised around a wide range of themes. Queer histories A collection that might be of particular interest for exploring LGTBQ+ histories in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries centuries is Sex and Sexuality. The archive collects the research papers, notes, and interviews of people who have researched sex, sexual behaviour, sexuality from an academic and medical perspective, such as Alfred Kinsey and Norman Haire; and archival collections which focus on lived experiences of individual people.
You can do a keyword search within the archives represented in the collection (the take a tour page gives you a good overview of the collection as a whole) or browse specific parts of it. One particular part of the collection lets you explore the diaries of Anne Lister, a nineteenth century gentlewoman who wrote about her relationships with women and travels across Europe. An introductory essay offers some context and background on who Anne Lister was and her importance in lesbian history. You can also explore the papers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century gay rights advocate Edward Carpenter. To explore twentieth century gay and lesbian history, you can explore the responses given by participants in the National Gay and Lesbian Survey.
The Sex and Sexuality archive also focuses on a wide range of collections from specific libraries, such as the Kinsey Institute, which has collected a large library and archive of material relating to sex and sexuality–you can explore collections ranging from romantic and erotic pulp fiction to an archive of materials on cross-dressing in the nineteenth century and much more besides. You can also explore collections from the ONE Archive at the University of Southern California Libraries, including papers, photographs and letters which provide a firsthand view of queer lives, relationships and advocacy in twentieth century America. On the other side of the pond, archivists have collected a huge range of material from the UK’s National Archives relating to sex and sexuality–you can see some of the highlights here
Even if you have some experience researching for your studies, working with an online archive can sometimes be overwhelming! There are a range of ways to explore the collection in order to find material you are looking for or interested in. You can search for specific names or keywords–if you are searching for particular words and phrases keep in mind that our vocabulary around sex and sexuality has changed a lot (and continues to do so), so you might find it helpful to take a look at the research tools section for ideas. If you are interested in browsing specific topics, like gender identities or art and literature, there’s a feature that lets you browse by topic. And if you struggle to locate material that is relevant to your research or interests, do contact your subject librarian–we’re here to help!