The Origins of OurStory Scotland
OurStory Scotland emerged out of Diverse Artists at the Glasgow LGBT Centre. The idea for our LGBT archive was first raised by Jaime Valentine at the end of the last meeting of the year in 2001. The idea of an archive was greeted with enthusiasm by those present. Jim Campbell responded especially favourably and by March 2002 Jaime and Jim were in regular communication about this project. Jaime attended the Arts for All conference in the Gorbals in March, and made enquiries about LGBT archives already in existence. Jim began work on an exhibition project with the theme 'Becoming Visible'. At the April meeting Jaime presented an update of research into archives and the Becoming Visible exhibition project. At the June meeting Jaime presented a verbal update on the archive project, suggesting purposes that would include practical interests (to see if we can set up an archive in Scotland), research interests (in the form and content of archiving and representing LGBT stories), aesthetic interests (in artistic expressions arising out of people's stories) and funding attempts. He reported on attempts to assess the interest and capacity of the Mitchell Library in housing the archive, contacts with Brighton Ourstory Project, who gave advice on financing and storage, and a future visit to the Glasgow Women's Library. In July Jaime and Haber met with Adele Patrick and Sue John of the Lesbian Archive and Information Centre at the Glasgow Women's Library, who were immensely informative and thoroughly supportive of the LGBT archive project: they have continued to give us vital encouragement as we communicate about developments in OurStory Scotland.
The name OurStory comes from the critique of history, first from a feminist perspective putting forward 'herstory', and then from other excluded groups, suggesting that history has neglected the experience of marginalised groups and that we wish to tell our story from the inside - from within groups commonly regarded as outside. One of the first LGBT archives in Britain is the Brighton Ourstory Project: Jaime contacted this project in March 2002 and made an extended visit at the end of July to meet Linda, who provided invaluable information and advice on the establishment of LGBT archives.
In July 2002 Jaime gave another report on the archive project, including communication with Brighton, the visit to the Glasgow Women's Library and contacts that he had established with a forthcoming project in Edinburgh on the oral history of the Edinburgh LGBT community. He proposed that several people from Diverse Artists get together to work on possible grant proposals for our archive project. This was the beginning of a distinct group of people interested in the archive project.
The first meeting of the archive group was on 13 August 2002. Jaime chaired this meeting, drew up the agenda and presented a list of the research aims in establishing LGBT archives in Scotland. Jim Campbell brought to this meeting items for the archive, so that a collection of publications could begin. Jaime was asked to write a piece on the archiving project for CentrePoint, the Glasgow LGBT Centre Magazine, published in September 2002. Our Stories Our Selves: an Archive for the LGBT Community presented the background and purpose of the archiving project, and noted the contacts that have been made along with several useful websites. In the same issue Jim Campbell contributed an article on the forthcoming exhibition, 'Becoming Visible: An Exhibition on the Social History of the Glasgow LGBT Community', while a later article, published in March 2003, gave an account of Becoming Visible: Setting Up the LGBT Archive Exhibition.
On 2 October 2002 a steering committee was set up, including Jaime Valentine, Jim Campbell and Eddy Steel. The name of the archiving group was discussed, and we decided on OurStory Scotland. The opening of the exhibition was agreed to be 4 November 2002.
The meeting on 16 December 2002 formally approved the Constitution of OurStory Scotland, and agreed the appointment of officers as Jaime Valentine (Chair), Jim Campbell (Secretary), Ian Strang (Treasurer).
The story of OurStory Scotland continues, and can be followed through our chronology:
History Scotland (Vol 12, 1 & 2, Jan/Feb & March/April 2012) has also published the story of how we turned out to make history
in our first ten years.
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