Category Archives: Richards Collection

The Saskatoon Pride Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this June with its biggest, longest and most varied program with events running June 9th to June 21st. The University Library congratulates all connected to the Festival and to the many other organizations whose efforts are making Saskatoon and the University more equitable, supportive and exciting places.

The University Archives and the Special Collections Unit’s Neil Richards Collection for Sexual and Gender Diversity share the Festival’s goal of fostering community pride and raising awareness of queer culture as well as facilitating research into LGBTQ history. The understandings and goals of those working towards greater freedom  have changed often and profoundly since the first printed appearance of the term ‘homosexual’ in an obscure 1869 German legal pamphlet. Uniting most of these efforts are courage, determination, and a desire to live and love visibly.  As a salute to Saskatoon Pride and its work, we highlight here a handful of our recent library acquisitions.

Radclyffe Hall letter:

To mark the acquisition of its 6,000th title the Neil Richards Collection has purchased a short autographed note from the celebrated Lesbian novelist Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943). Dated March 28th 1925 and  addressed to Arthur St John Adcock, editor of The Bookman,  the note seeks a review for her new novel A Saturday Life.

 

“As you were kind enough to take an interest in “The Unlit Lamp” (1924) I am undertaking to send you my new book…it is in a lighter vein this time, and if you like it at all, it should be an enormous help if you would give it a few  kind words in “The Bookman”. The book is to be published next Wednesday-   April 1st!”  

In 1928 Hall gave up her role as a comfortable and respected society novelist to publish her most well-known work, The Well of Loneliness. The Well was a lengthy plea for tolerance for its main character, a masculine lesbian named Stephen Gordon, who described herself as did Hall as a “congenital invert.”

Hall received harsh abuse and only a modicum of support for her temerity in raising the issue of lesbianism. The book was the subject of a much publicized obscenity trial in the UK, which resulted in an order that all copies of the novel be destroyed. Despite efforts at censorship, including in Canada, the book became so widely read by lesbians that it was known as the Lesbian Bible.

Rudi van Dantzig : For a Lost Soldier

London: Gay Men’s Press, 1996

Rainbow Link, the Toronto based organization that redistributes LGBT title across Canada, is the most generous donor to the  Neil Richards Collection. Among the hundreds of titles received last year is this exceptionally hard to find title. For a Lost Soldier is a wartime memoir of the relationship between  a lonesome Dutch boy named Jeroen sent for safety to the marshlands of Friesland,  and Walt Cook, a young Canadian  soldier attached to the allied liberation effort in that area of the Netherlands.  Separated completely from his family and desperate for attention and understanding Jeroen mistakes Walt’s interest and sexual abuse as love and falls into anguish when Walt’s unit marches on leaving him behind.

The author is the acclaimed Dutch choreographer Rudy van Dantzig (1933-2012), one of the giants of late 20th century modern dance.  Voor een Verloren SoldaatFor a Lost Soldier was published in the Netherlands in 1986, filmed in 1992, and translated into English editions that sold out almost immediately. It is among the most sought of modern gay literature titles by collectors.

Chevalier Publications :

Fated for Femininity

Los Angeles: Chevalier Publications, 1965. First printing, no date (ca. 1965)

I Am A Male Actress

Los Angeles: Chevalier Publications, 1963. First printing, 1963,

Chevalier Publications was established in California in1963 by American transgender activist Virginia Prince (1912-2009) to publisher her magazine Transvestia and other publications promoting self-acceptance by male crossdressers.  These were sold by subscription and in adult bookstores. The intention was that readers would provide the articles and stories. For twenty years the magazine offered stories and letters, personal and business ads, and listings of upcoming events. The goal was threefold –education, entertainment and expression. The Library has recently acquired four titles from this pioneering press.

According to Prince’s Wikipedia entry, Transvestia’s audience consisted largely of white men who were interested in feminine apparel. In other works, Prince helped popularize the term ‘transgender’, and erroneously asserted that she coined transgenderist and transgenderism, words that she meant to be understood as describing people who live as full-time women, but do not intend to have genital surgery.  Prince’s idea of a “true transvestite “was clearly distinguished from both the homosexual and the transsexual, claiming that true transvestites are “exclusively heterosexual.”.

OutSaskatoon’s Rainbow Family Series : 

 Saskatoon: OutSaskatoon, 2016.

Since the early 1970s in LGBT circles Saskatoon has been known as a city that in terms of activism punches far above its own weight. OutSaskatoon, known previously as the Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, has addressed the community’s social needs for over 26 years. In 2016, it published a series of four illustrated booklets dealing with the sexual and gender diversity of local families including aboriginal families. With texts  by Brent Beatty, Natasha King, Helen Thunderchild  and   Melody Wood and photography by Priscila Silva.

Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity

Using the Collections

In Making a Scene: Lesbians and Community Across Canada, 1964-84 (UBC Press 2015) author Liz Millward generously acknowledged the Richards collection at the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan for documenting the participation of lesbians in both social and political groups in the Canadian West.

radclyffehall_feat

In the summer of 2015 Shawna Lipton of Washington State University Vancouver travelled to Saskatoon to explore lesbian titles in the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity. She returned to Saskatoon in September for a public presentation of her findings with Prof. Ann Martin of the U of S English Department. Titled Returning to the Well: Radclyffe Hall and the Marketing of Lesbian Pulp Fiction the presentation examined how the Well of Loneliness and Hall’s iconic lesbian status, affected the content and marketing of preStonewall lesbian fiction. The Library used this opportunity to greatly expand its collection of Hall titles, including sheet music based upon on her early poems

April 2016 brought a visit by Kevin Allen of the Calgary Gay History Project who discovered material about gay organizing in Calgary in the 1970s at the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan, particularly dealing with participation in Prairie and National Gay Rights Conferences and the networking of private member gay social clubs that existed in Prairie cities in the 1970s.

Jonathan Petrychn, a doctoral candidate at York University, visited the Provincial and University Archives in June 2016, finding material for his thesis on the history of LGBT film festivals and screenings on the Canadian Prairies.

The Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity

nanandhopePromoting the Collections

The U of S Archives & Special Collections regularly promotes the visibility and use of its sexual and gender diversity collections through in-house exhibitions and descriptive pieces on the unit’s blog.

In each of the past three years the collections have been highlighted with displays at the annual U of S Breaking the Silence conference and through contributions to exhibits presented each February by Out Saskatoon at the Heritage Festival of Saskatoon.

In March 2016 the Library prepared and displayed an exhibit from its extensive collection of vintage lesbian pulp fiction in conjunction with a screening of the classic Canadian documentary Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories O f Lesbian Lives (1992) at the Broadway Theatre. Co-director Lynne Fernie travelled from Toronto to reintroduce the remastered film to a new audience.

An exhibition of classic LGBT themed movie posters was also provided to the Saskatoon Public Library in conjunction with its spring series of LGBT documentaries Queer as Film

From October 2013 to summer 2016 the Saskatoon office of the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan welcomed visitors and researchers with a large exhibition on Saskatchewan LGBT history in its corridor display cases. The exhibit was curated by Joe Wickenhauser with material drawn principally from the Archives’ Neil Richards fonds.

To keep track of the Neil Richards Collection as it is being shared with audiences all over Saskatoon, follow us on twitter @sask_uasc or Facebook.

The following is an ever-growing list of the Neil Richards Collection for Sexual and Gender Diversity’s online presence: