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.


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:

The Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity

img588Building the Collections

The Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity has continued to expand rapidly through in-kind gifts, purchases and the occasional commission.

In 2014 Special Collections was able to commission Cathryn Miller to produce a book artwork commemorating Joe Wickenhauser’s 2013 project Greystone Secrets: A Queerstorical Campus Walking Tour. The final product delighted everyone and provided the library with another major work by Saskatchewan’s most accomplished book artist. For more information see Miller’s description

In 2016 the Library was able to purchase two early titles of great historical interest. The first is the two volume 2nd edition (1821) of Johann Winckelmann’s (1717-1768) Monumenti Antichi Inediti, a collection of over 240 copper engravings of Greek and Roman sculptureWinckelmann is considered the founder of the discipline of art history and the leading catalyst for the neoclassical style. His ‘homosexual’ affairs were widely known to his contemporaries (including Goethe) and it is generally agreed that his aesthetic ideals were strongly influenced by the homoeroticism he saw in classical art. To mark its recent accession of its 5,000th title, the Library purchased a rare 1871 edition of Joseph and his Friend: a Story of Pennsylvania by American novelist Bayard Taylor (1825-1878). Taylor’s work has been described as “ America’s first homosexual novel” for its defence of those “who cannot shape themselves according to the common-place pattern of society.”

The Library’s most important recent gift is an enormous collection of books, magazines, papers and ephemera from the estate of local activist Gens Hellquist (1946-2013). Hellquist was one of the original organizers of Saskatoon’s gay community in the early 1970s and played a founding and leadership role in many of its organizations until his death. It is hoped this valuable collection can be made be available for research in 2017.

Hundreds of popular and academic titles have been acquired through the interest and generosity of The Rainbow Link,  a Toronto based organization which gathers and redistributes books of LGBT interest to community organizations and libraries across Canada, especially  to those not located in the biggest cities.

Neil Richards has continued donations to the collection, including additions to previous gifts of vintage physique magazines, sheet music associated with early cross-dressed entertainment, and magazine issues from the 1950s and 1960s featuring articles on homosexuality. Bruce Hugh Russell continued his generosity with the gift of many volumes dealing with Christianity and homosexuality. Several donors, including the USSU Pride Centre and Ron Jaremko, have provided many older issues of lesbian and gay lifestyle magazines, from the US, France, Australia and Russia.

baker004Among the U of S Archives most recent accessions is a large collection of movie posters and other ephemera that document the film industry’s long and rather tangled relationship to homosexuality and to LGBT audiences. The collection includes examples from over 150 LGBT themed films spanning the period 1961 to the present. The earliest example is a rare poster for Victim , a 1961 British suspense film dealing with the blackmail of homosexual men. It is credited with being the first English language feature to use the word homosexual and was an important early step towards the decriminalization of homosexual acts in England and Wales in 1967.

The collection is unusual in containing posters not only from Hollywood productions but also a large number from Canadian and European producers. An initial exhibition from the collection was presented in conjunction with Queer as Film ,the Saskatoon Public Library’s spring 2016 series of LGBT documentaries.