Elspeth Brown,

Historian: markets, visual culture, gender, sexuality

LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory

The LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory is the largest LGBTQ oral history project in North American history, connecting over 200 life stories with new methodologies in digital history, collaborative research, and archival practice. This team-based project is organized as a "collaboratory," by which we mean a virtual working space--a cooperative laboratory--through which team members will come together to share work, ideas, and new knowledge concerning the creation of LGBTQ oral histories in the digital age. The Collaboratory is supported by a five year research grant from the Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

Our project seeks to answer a number of research questions about LGBTQ lives, archives, and digital history. How can oral history, as a methodology, intersect with queer theory, trans studies, and critical race theory to ask new questions of LGBTQ lives? In what ways can we historicize some of the key categories of twentieth century LGBTQ history, including older terms such as "gay," "femme," and "butch" and newer ones such as "aggressive," "trans," and "queer"? What kinds of activism have been effective, historically, in improving the lives of LBGTQ people? And finally: how can scholars and LGBTQ community members best provide access to, and engagement with, historical artefacts central to LGBTQ lives? 

The collaboratory has been covered in Oral History Association's Podcast, the CBC, and in the TSQ: The Transgender Quarterly. 

“Trans/Feminist Oral History: Current Projects.” TSQ: The Transgender Studies  Quarterly vol. 2 no. 4 (November 2015), pp. 666-672.