Archives & Society
1 November 2011 
Nine and a half years: The impact of London Metropolitan Archives LGBT History and Archives Conference
Jan Pimblett (London Metropolitan Archive)

For almost 10 years now the London Metropolitan Archive has hosted an annual conference on LGBT History and Archives.  It originated through a desire to engage people with the archive in new ways; to unearth hidden histories and rediscover the lost past of specific communities within the metropolis.  Jan Pimblett reflects on how successful this approach has proven to be and on how interest and considerations in LGBT history and culture has changed over the course of a decade.  As with many under-represented communities archiving of LGBT history is largely made up of negative representations as revealed through criminal records, popular reporting and uninformed discourses.  However, look far enough into the archive then other pictures begin to emerge such as materials produced through activism and via campaign literature.  Pimblett also discusses attempts to ‘fill in the gaps’ through gaining co-operation and aid from people in some way involved in LGBT history.  However, this is not an easy job.  Much of LGBT history is invisible or highly personal.  There is also a hurdle over ‘trust’ to overcome.  Due to continued social tensions there is concern, whether fair or not, that an archive might turn against the ‘community’ and the material hidden again from view.

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