Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives
The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA) is a non-profit organisation committed to the collection and preservation of material reflecting the lives and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT Australians.  The Archives was established as an initiative of the 4th National Homosexual Conference, Sydney, August 1978, drawing on the previous work of founding President Graham Carbery. Since its establishment the collection has grown to over 100,000 items (370 shelf metres), constituting the largest and most significant collection of material relating to LGBT Australians and the largest collection of LGBT material in Australia, and the most prominent research centre for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans* history in Australia.
- 1 Collection
- 2 Programs
- 3 Events
- 4 Exhibitions
- 5 Publishing
- 6 References
- 7 External links
ALGA's collection includes a broad range of library, archive and museum material, including personal papers and organisational records, periodicals, books, posters, photographs, audio-visual (betamax, VHS, 8mm film, DVD etc.), sound recordings (oral history, radio programs, conference speeches events etc.), newspaper clippings, theses, articles and pamphlets, ephemera (e.g. flyers, circulars, invitations, cards, calendars etc.), badges, t-shirts, banners, objects etc.
The collection is strongest in holdings relating to the early gay liberation movement in Australian onwards (i.e. 1970-); however, the collection also includes earlier treasures such as a book of love poetry between two men from World War 1 and Monte Punshon's scrapbooks from the 1920s-1930s.
ALGA has also built up extensive collections relating to key aspects of LGBT life in Australia, in particular pride festivals such as Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Midsumma and Feast Festival, as well as HIV/AIDS and the various state AIDS action and support organisations, and lesser known aspects such as gay Christian organisations and gay sporting organisations and events.
ALGA also holds the largest collection of non-Australian LGBT material in Australia, including material from the United States, England, Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vanuatu, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand.
Personal papers and organisational records
The Archives' collection of over 150 records and manuscript collection includes many notable holdings, including the organisational records of the Daughters of Bilitis/Australasian Lesbian Movement (the first LGBT rights organisation in Australia); the Records of Society Five (Melbourne’s first ongoing gay rights organisation); the Records of the National Homosexual Conferences of the 1970s and 1980s; the Records of the Homosexual Law Reform Coalition (1975-1980); the records of publishers such as Wicked Women, OutRage and BlackWattle Press; the records of religious groups such as Christ's Community Church, Uniting Network, Metropolitan Community Church etc. The Archives also holds substantial collections of personal papers, including those entrepreneur Jan Hillier, HIV/AIDS activists and community workers Ian Goller and Bill Hathaway, academics Professor Dennis Altman, performers Noel Tovey, writers Bob Buckley, Dino Hodge and Lyn Palmer, transgender performers such as Rose Jackson, DJ's Stephen Allkins and Bill Morley, artists Eddy Hackenberg and Peter Tully etc.
The Archives holds more than 1600 titles (approximately 50,000 items), from community newspapers and magazines, to organisational newsletters and zines from across Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Japan. Over 20 titles have been indexed in whole or in part, amounting to over 14,000 article references.
Amongst the over 30,000 photographic items, notable special collections include those of Tommy McDermott, Robert Albert (Lottie) Lott and Brian Cooke documenting camp life in Melbourne from the 1940s to the 1960s; photographer collections, including those by John Storey, C. Moore Hardy, William Yang and Terrence (Terry) Bell, documenting LGBT life in Sydney from the 1970s-2000s; Eddy Hackenberg, Sydney-based artist and documentary photographer; Bob Buckley, S/M writer, documenting S/M and leather culture in Australia and around the world; David Johnstone, documenting Mandala gay commune and the early Radical Faeries in Australia; Ulo Klemmer, documenting saunas and beats in Sydney; organisational photographic collections, such as those of Midsumma and ALSO Foundation; and photographic collections from LGBT newspapers, including Campaign, Brother Sister, B-News (Bill Calder), Melbourne Star Observer, City Rhythm (Jay Watchorn and Leigh Klooger), and Klick (Ivan Polson), and Evolution Publishing (Melbourne Office). As well as a range of smaller collections of photographs in personal papers.
The Archives holds approximately 5000 books, with a focus on LGBT-related books published in Australia or by Australian authors. Non-Australian historiographical books are also collected as well as pre-1980 LGBT-related books, particularly those that were distributed or circulated in Australia. The Archives also holds two special book collections, the Ardy Tibby Collection of Lesbian Fiction and the David McDiarmid Book Collection. The Rare Books Collection holds items dating from the mid-19th century as well as association copies and artists' books.
The Archives holds approximately 3000 posters dating from the 1960s to the present. Posters cover a range of subject matter from dance parties to protests, HIV/AIDS education to LGBT pride festivals. Notable holdings include extensive material relating to the Sydney Mardi Gras, including a comprehensive collection of posters from each festival as well as posters for protests surrounding the arrests of the first Mardi Gras in 1978. A number of special poster collections are held by the Archives, including the Ian Malloy Collection, documenting HIV/AIDS education and gay and lesbian protests; the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) Poster Collection, documenting HIV/AIDS education in Australia and internationally; the Les Smith Collection, documenting his Brisbane-based DJ career; the Beige Design (Chris Orr and Paul Clifton) Collection, documenting their Melbourne-based design practice for the LGBT community; the David McDiarmid Collection, documenting his poster designs from 1972 onwards; the Grant Kilby Collection, which contains leather posters as well as original poster designed by Allan Booth; the Ron Muncaster and Ken Hocking Collections documenting leather and S/M events. Also amongst the collection are a large number are a number of posters printed and designed at community print workshops in the 1970s and 1980s, including posters produced at Earthworks Poster Collective, Redback Graphix, Redletter Press, Megalo Access Arts (Megalo Print Studio) etc.
Oral history and audio
The Archives' oral history and audio collections are extensive and include over 200 oral history recordings, over 200 audio records from Australian LGBT radio programs and LGBT subjects on mainstream radio, and over 100 sound recordings including mixtapes and recordings of DJ sets.
The Oral History Collection documents the breadth of Australian LGBT life from across Australia, documenting early camp life from pre-WW2, the development of the gay liberation movement and later LGBT organisations and community activism. The collection has a strengths in documenting gay liberation and activists, but also holds a wealth of stories of everyday lesbians, gay men and trans men and women. Special collections include the John Lee Collection, which includes 34 oral history interviews recorded between 1978 and 1980, documenting camp life in Adelaide, SA, which includes 9 interviews with recollections from pre-WW2. Other special collections include the Dino Hodge Collection, which includes 19 recordings created in preparing his 1996 book 'The fall upward : spirituality in the lives of lesbian women and gay men'.
The Archives also holds over 200 audio recordings relating to gay and lesbian radio programmes, such as Gaywaves (Radio 2SER, Sydney); Gay Radio Information News Service (GRINS), recorded at Radio 2SER, but distributed nationally; Gay Liberation Radio Collective (Radio 3CR, Melbourne) etc. Supplementing the audio recordings are a number of archival collections relating to gay radio programs, including Gaywaves, GRINS, and Inside Out (Radio 2RSR, Sydney), as well as the personal papers of members of program collectives, such as Sheril Berkovitch (Gay Liberation Radio Collective). Also included are a small number of off-air recordings of interviews relating to LGBT-subjects on mainstream radio programs.
Ephemera consists largely of small printed paper items, most of which were not intended to have a long life, such as brochures, flyers, postcards circulars etc. The Archives’ Ephemera Collection comprises over 2600 files, largely by organisation/publisher, with a smaller number of people or subject files. Substantial holdings include events such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Midsumma and Feast Festival; as well as conferences such as Queer Collaborations; venues such as nightclubs; and theatre programs.
The Newspaper Clippings collection contains over 50,000 clippings (~12m), covering Australian metropolitan dailies and regional and suburban newspapers. Between c.1975 and 2000 the Collection was developed with the support of OutRage magazine and Fr Ken Sinclair, who utilised press clippings services and subsequently donated clippings to the Archives. Additional clippings, particularly those from before 1982 have been actively copied from the national and state libraries. The Collection has been photocopied onto paper and is sorted chronologically into binders. While the collection has not been fully indexed, approximately 6,500 articles have been indexed to date. Additional print indexes are available, including: ‘’Editorials in Australian newspapers related to homosexuality’’ (Melbourne, Vic : Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives Inc, 2010, 2nd ed.); and Robert French's two indexes, Gays between the broadsheets : Australian media references on homosexuality, 1948-1980 (Sydney, NSW: Gay History Project, 1986) and Mossies could spread AIDS : Australian media references on AIDS, 1981 - 1985 (Sydney, NSW: Gay History Project, 1986). A number of collections of personal papers also contain subject-based newspaper clippings files, including those of Geoff Allshorn and Graham Willett.
The Archives maintains a substantial colletion of audio-visual material in a range of formats, from Super8 to Umatic and VHS, including feature films, documentaries, safe sex / sex education videos, daytime talk shows, news reportage, and original recordings of community events. Holdings include The Set (Australia, prod. Frank Brittain, 1969) – the first ‘gay’ movie to be made in Australia; and Number 96 (Australia, 1972-1977) – Australia’s first soap, and the first to feature a gay character; we hold 5 episodes as a sample of the series. Notable special collections include the Colin Billing Collection, containing original video recordings of Melbourne LGBT community events such as those by Midsumma and The ALSO Foundation.
The Archives' collection of artwork consists largely of photographs, collages and paintings, as well as original poster and costume designs, cartoons and comics. Poster and flyer designs include works by designers such as Mark Lyndon Matheson, Allan Booth and David McDiarmid. Cartoons and comics include works by Kenton Penley / Kenton Miller, Brett Willis, David Pope, John Ditchburn (Inkcinct) and Ian Sharpe. Special collections include the Frank and Leonie Osowski Collection of fetish-related artwork; the Papers of Andi Nellssun containing photographic and collage works; the Papers of Bill Morley containing sketchbooks, drawings and collage works; the Papers of Eddy Hackenberg containing photographic, collage and film works; the Papers of Stephen Allkins containing jewellery by Peter Tully and two original costumes by David McDiarmid; the Ken's of Kensington Collection contains four photograph collages by John Jenner; the David McDiarmid Collection includes an artist book and print portfolio; leather and S/M artwork, including original sketches by Bill Ward, are located in the Ron Muncaster and Ken Hocking Collections; the David Beschi Collection includes an original watercolour etc.
The Archives holds approximately 900 badges dating from the early 1970s gay liberation period to the present. The badges are largely Australian, but with notable holdings of badges produced in America and New Zealand.
The Archives holds approximately 380 t-shirts dating from the early 1970s gay liberation period to the present. The t-shirts are largely Australian, but with some t-shirts produced in America and England.
The Archives holds a small collection of costumes, including drag outfits from the late 1960s to the 1990s (including a radical drag outfit worn by activist Ken Davis in the 1978 Mardi Gras, and one worn by Miss New Zealand during the 1990s); a leather/punk jacket created by Marcus Bunyan; and overlays worn by various motor clubs during the 1970s-1990s.
The Archives holds approximately 60 banners, documenting LGBT activism from the late 1970s through to 2013, with banners from Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
Queer Youth Education Project
The Queer Youth Education Project was established to provide workshops about Australian queer history to youth groups and school groups based on the Archives’ collection. The Project also takes archival collection material out of the Archives for workshops for youth services and schools.
The Venues Project seeks to photographically document LGBT venues across Australia. Venues documented include Mandate Nightclub, Xchange Nightclub and the Market Hotel in Melbourne, and Ken's of Kensington, Kingsteam Sauna and Aarows Sauna in Sydney. Additional venues are documented progressively, with priority given to those that are being renovated or closed.
ALGA undertakes a range of activities and events, including stalls at various pride festival fair days around Australia, Queer History Walks, in particular during Melbourne’s annual Midsumma gay and lesbian festival; the annual Homosexual Histories Conference; the annual honors thesis prize; regular Open Days; and exhibitions.
ALGA has an increasingly active exhibition program, developing exhibitions both in-house, as well as contributing loans and expertise to exhibitions around Australia, in-house exhibitions including:
- Forbidden love, bold passions: an exhibition of lesbian stories 1900s to 1990s (1996) - touring exhibition curated by History Inverted and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives
- Significant moments (2001), developed by the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives with support from Pride March
- Camp as: Melbourne in the 1950s (2005), City Gallery, Melbourne Town Hall
- Sydney Mardi Gras Museum exhibition (2013), Sydney - funded by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
- Passion: 30 years of safe sex (2013), Victorian Archives Centre, Melbourne
- Gay times are here again (2013), State Library of South Australia - celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Adelaide Gay Pride Week
- Out of the closets, into the streets: gay liberation photography 1971-73 (2014), Melbourne and Sydney - Forthcoming
- Vital signs: interpreting the Archives 9–26 July 2014, Blindside Gallery, Melbourne Vic - Forthcoming
Exhibitions featuring notable contributions from ALGA include:
- Got the message? 50 years of political posters (2013), Art Gallery of Ballarat
- Protest! Archives from the University of Melbourne (2013), Leigh Scott Gallery, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne
- Radicalism (2014), The Substation, Melbourne - An exploration of radicalism, resistance and defiance around questions of gender and sexuality
- David McDiarmid: when this you see remember me (2014), The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, 9 May-31 August 2014
- TRANSMISSIONS: archiving HIV/AIDS - Melbourne, 1979-2014 (2014), George Paton Gallery, University of Melbourne - Forthcoming
In addition to ALGA’s irregular Newsletter, previously titles the ALGA Bulletin, ALGA has published a number of books and has edited a number of monographs in series, these include:
- Intimacy, violence and activism : gay and lesbian perspectives on Australian history and society (Gay and lesbian perspectives ; 7) / edited by Graham Willett and Yorick Smaal (Clayton, Victoria Monash University Publishing, 2013) - based on ALGA's 12th Australia's Homosexual Histories Conference, Brisbane, 2012
- After homosexual : the legacies of gay liberation / edited by Carolyn D'Cruz and Mark Pendleton (Crawley, W.A. Uwa Publishing, 2013) - based on the joint ALGA and La Trobe University conference of the same name, held at Victoria University in 2012
- Secret histories of queer Melbourne / edited by Graham Willett, Wayne Murdoch and Daniel Marshall (Melbourne, Vic: Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 2011)
- Out here : gay and lesbian perspectives VI / edited by Yorick Smaal and Graham Willett (Melbourne, Vic: Monash University Publishing, 2011)
- 'Queen City of the South : gay and lesbian Melbourne'; La Trobe journal ; no. 87 / edited by Graham Willett and John Arnold (Melbourne, Vic : State Library of Victoria Foundation, 2011)
- The travelling mind of Val Eastwood / by Val Eastwood (Melbourne, Vic: Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 2009)
- A guide to gay and lesbian writing in Australia / by Michael Hurley (St. Leonards, N.S.W. : Allen & Unwin and Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 1996)
- A history of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras / by Graham Carbery (Melbourne, Vic : Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 1995)
ALGA has also been used as a principal research facility for almost every LGBT historical work published in Australia.
- "Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives Inc" Australian Society of Archivists Inc. Accessed: 7 December 2009.
- "Collection | Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives". Alga.org.au. 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "Lesbian and gay archive emerges for anniversary" The Age, 23 August 2008. Accessed: 7 December 2009.
- "Collection | Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives". Alga.org.au. 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "Queer Youth Education Project | Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives". Alga.org.au. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- [dead link]
- Website for Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives