On Monday 22nd September at the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) on Richmond Street the latest edition of our LGBT source guide was launched.

The LGBT History Source Guide is an introduction to the extensive archive and printed material held at the Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives and elsewhere relating to the history of Manchester’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. The guide is being newly updated due to the huge success of earlier issues. The new and updated guide features up to the minute information, including the influential papers of Alan Horsfall – the founder and secretary of the North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee which were recently deposited with the Greater Manchester County Record Office. Copies of the guide will be circulated to libraries.

On the launch night Jeff Evans, a researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University, with help from volunteer Sylvia Kölling, told the dramatic and salacious story of the police raid on a drag ball in Manchester which caused a national scandal in 1880.

The event was held in the LGF’s large and bright conference room. We had set out some documents relating to LGBT history from the Manchester Archives as well as picking out a few key pieces from the LGF’s own newly implemented Archives.

The room quickly filled up and the launch began. Dave Govier, an Archivist from the Manchester Archives, introduced the audience to the guide and explained why it is an invaluable resource for people to find out more about LGBT history. There were plenty of guide to be given out as they were hot of the press only that morning. The talk by Jeff Evans and Sylvia Kölling was a great example of the importance of having an in-depth and useful LGBT source guide as their story was only really made possible by time consuming and meticulous research. It can be difficult to find references to LGBT issues in archives. Sometimes this is because the words used to describe identities and behaviours have changed over time, but often it is simply because archivists write summary descriptions rather than describing individual items in detail.

The talk was very interesting, full of juicy details and fascinating evidence which all leads to the conclusion that there was an active ‘queer’ community in Manchester which we can definitely date back to the late 19th Century. There were some good questions from the crowd which Jeff and Sylvia answered with passion and enthusiasm. It was clear that the LGBT community even back then were misrepresented but at the same time became highly influential in the city’s social and cultural history. But it’s clear from the good turnout and attention the event gathered that there is high interest in the subject and for people who want to research LGBT history; I can only say that the guide should definitely be your first point of call.

View the online version of the updated source guide here:  http://issuu.com/McrArchives/docs/lgbt_source_guide_2011

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