Uncover LGBTQ history

Uncover LGBTQ history
Archives of human sexuality and identity: LGBTQ history and culture since 1940
24 November 2016

Do you have an interest in LGBTQ history and culture?

Curious to know how Justice Michael Kirby's views on gay rights have been reported outside Australia?

Perhaps you'd like to graph the frequency of the words HIV and AIDS in publications across the 1980s?

You can find all this and more when you explore one of the Library’s newest eResources from Gale: Archives of human sexuality and identity: LGBTQ history and culture since 1940.

Man wearing hat that spells the word 'GAY"

Yang, William, Hat, Gay Mardi Gras 1984, nla.obj-136863988

What can you find?

A unique fully-searchable collection that brings together approximately 1.5 million pages of primary sources on social, political, health and legal issues impacting LGBTQ communities around the world. – Archives of Human Sexuality & Gender, Gale

The amount of information in the archives is quite staggering. Through one simple search, you can find over 1.5 million pages of material on Australian and international LGBTQ organisations and individuals from 1940-2014. You can also find a large amount of material relating to feminism and women's rights.

Australian and New Zealand publications are well represented and include titles such as the Melbourne publication Gayzette, the Sydney based journal GLP! A journal of sexual politics, and New Zealand's Pink Triangle

Also included is a wide range of other published and unpublished items such as:

  • newspapers
  • manuscripts - including those of ACT UP Sydney
  • monographs
  • newsletters - such as the Sydney Gay Trade Unionists' Group Newsletter
  • photographs
  • correspondence - including letters from individuals such as Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon
  • government reports

The material is from over 20 individual collections that have been brought together in the Archives, from political and social organisations, as well as government and non-government bodies, such as:

  • AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP)
  • The International HIV/AIDS Crisis Part 1: 1985-1999
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • Sexual politics in Britain

Many of the groups responsible for the material are now defunct, making access to their records invaluable. 

Two men lighting candle at AIDS vigil

Yang, William, The last candle, AIDS vigil [The Domain, Sydney]  1994, nla.obj-136864462

Adding value to your research

By bringing together overseas publications that would otherwise be hard to find in Australia, the archives allow you to place the involvement of Australian activists and organisations within a worldwide movement. Perhaps you will find articles about Australian activists in the Canadian Forties Plus, the American New directions for women, or the British Women’s Voice.

Many of the titles are extremely rare, and span a variety of issues of interest to the LGBTQ community worldwide. They are sources from libraries and archives across the world, including:

  • British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics
  • Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives
  • New York Public Library

The breadth of sources represented, coming from community and activist organisations and government bodies, provides a variety of points of view and allows for research into social issues at the grass roots, for example same sex marriage and families.

Women protesting with placards at the International Women's Day march

Australian Information Service, and McKinnon, John, Women on the march wave their placards at the International Women's Day march, Melbourne  March 8 1975, nla.obj-137045864

How can I access the archive?

You can access the database onsite at the National Library in Canberra, and registered readers can  access it from home through our eResources with a National Library card.

If you don’t have a card, you can register for one for free.

Suggestions for further LGBTQ research

Don’t forget to search the catalogue for a wide variety of resources particular to Australia including newspapers, pictorial material and ephemera.

Other online resources include:

Need help?   

If you need further assistance with the Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity or any of our eResources, you may find the answer in one of our earlier eResources blogs:

Still stuck with your research? Ask a Librarian

Please note: the pictures used in this blog are from the National Library of Australia's Pictures collection.