Review: The Transgender Archive Online

| Mar 21, 2016
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Correction 6/1/16: We just learned that University of Victoria is just one of many contributors to the Digital Transgender Archive. The DTA is actually an international collaboration with more than 20 different archival collections from around the world (though only 14 are online so far), only one of which is UVic. That is why we couldn’t find a link from the University’s homepage.

The first thing you notice when you try to visit the University of Victoria’s online Transgender Archive is that you can’t find a link from the university’s homepage to the Archive. Everything from anarchists to Medieval manuscripts can be accessed through the “Digital collections” link on their main page. Searching for “transgender” from the main page’s search feature will get you to a page of trans related things and the first one is “The Transgender Archives.”

Once found I boldly clicked on the archive link and a pdf file titled The Transgender Archives, Foundations for the Future by Aaron H Devor loaded into my browser. (Dr. Devor is the man in charge of the archive.) The pdf is an introduction to the Archive and contains many photos of items that can be found there. Among the photos are items like magazine and book covers, trans erotica, photos of Virginia Prince, other historic figures, and other ephemera. While worth looking through to see the excellent digital renderings of the Archive’s holdings there is no link to the actual online Archive.

Dr. Devor and part of the Archive.

Dr. Devor and part of the Archive.

Pressing on I returned to the library’s main page and clicked the link “Featured collections & initiatives.” Scrolling down the resulting page I came upon a link to “The Trans* Web.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Clicking that link sent me to a page with a definition of “The Trans* Web” and info on the Transgender Archive. Which remained illusive. Under the definition there were search results with links to other websites containing trans information but no Archive. I begin to ask, How do I get to the actual Archive?

Returning to the homepage I tried using the search function to look for Renaissance News. Surprisingly the first item on the search results was the newsletter and later the magazine of the Renaissance Education Association, Inc. However, clicking on links on the Renaissance News page just seem to result in circular actions.

At this point patience began to decay. If the Transgender Archive is available online why can’t I find it by going to the University’s website? Are they proud to host it but not so proud that they make it easy to find? (There is the possibility that you have to be a registered user of the university library in order to get to actual content this way.)

There’s only one thing to do. Go directly to the archive using the link we published in our TWIT column today. At last! Success. The Archive is laid out with links on the left side that go to Renaissance, The Outreach Institute, Fantasia Fair, JoAnn Roberts, and other content creators. Under that is a list of topics, and another list of subjects. To the right you find a list of results with links for each item. Clicking on the link to the Creative Design Services Promotional Brochure brought up a page with information on the brochure and a thumbnail photo of it. Clicking the thumbnail loaded a full size, print quality pdf file of the brochure. This is true for everything from correspondence between various individuals to promotional fliers for events and even magazines, newsletters and program guides for conferences. If you happened to miss Vol. 8, No. 11 of Renaissance News & Views from 1994 fear not. You can read the whole thing online through the Archive.

In conclusion it seems that unless you have the address the Archive is hard to find through the University’s homepage but once you land there be prepared to spend some time. There are all sorts of newsletters and other ephemera from the trans community, and it’s easy to just keep clicking links and loading new items. Navigation can be tricky and searches for items like Transgender Community News, the magazine published by Renaissance, did not result in any of the issues turning up. A search for Transgender Tapestry magazine published by IFGE did not turn up any issues of that publication. I assume that the Archive does have these magazines (I know because I personally donated some) but they haven’t been scanned and uploaded yet. Such a project is a massive undertaking. I have to label the Archive as a work in progress but a noble effort to retain our history and make it available to everyone, whether you just want to jog your memory of days gone by or you are conducting academic research.

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Category: Product Review, Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

Comments (2)

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  1. angela_g angela_g says:

    Thanks Victoria. I know the Archive has TCN since I donated a pile of them to the collection. It does take time to get everything scanned so I guess they’re still working on them.

  2. victoria victoria says:

    Part of their collection is at

    On that site you can find almost every issue of Tapestry there, including the first issue. No copies of TCN though, yet.