The Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony was founded in 2010. We digitize and make available online oral histories and testimony of same-sex and same-gender attracted women, inclusive of Two Spirit, queer, bisexual, and lesbian women, transmen, and others. The archives and the web site is supported by and operates out of Simon Fraser University Library's Special Collections and Rare Books. More background information about the founding and development of the project is available in our Resources.
This project is supported by an grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Currently, ALOT is undertaking a project called "Bridging the Gap," which seeks to explore how incorporating participatory features into digital archives can encourage community users' use of an online archives hosted by an academic institution.
The testimonies that ALOT collects, digitizes, and hosts online come in many different forms. For more information on how to donate your archival materials to ALOT, or have ALOT host your materials on our site, see Donating to ALOT.
ALOT accepts contributions of individual oral histories but also accepts donations of collections of archival records, which may include complete fonds or individuals’ collections of relevant materials. Archival records are usually original, unpublished records of one creator that have enduring value and so are preserved for access and posterity. Donations to ALOT are housed in Special Collections and Rare Books at Simon Fraser University, and selections of the audiovisual holdings are digitized and made available online through this site. In the future, the complete descriptions of ALOT’s archival holdings will be available online at SFU Special Collections’ AtoM. ALOT also hosts some collections online that are housed in other archives.
The majority of materials donated to or hosted by ALOT are the original audio or video recordings of oral history interviews. Oral history can be defined as recordings of “historical information, obtained through an interview that preserves a person’s life history or eyewitness account of a past experience.” These oral history interviews are original, primary, unpublished sources that are generally created for the purposes of documentation (such as part of a community project) and/or further research (such as for a book or an academic article or project), and are unedited, historical records. The oral histories that you listen to or view on the ALOT site are not produced or edited to be documentaries, and are often undertaken by academics, students, or non-professional community members. Many of the oral histories available on this site were recorded on to audio cassettes decades earlier, frequently without the intention to preserve the tapes, or even to make them available. Because magnetic media degrades rapidly, the quality of the audio or video on this site can be less than perfect. Digitization is one way to ensure that these archival records will be better preserved and made accessible.
Not all of ALOT's materials are publicly available on this site. Some are restricted/protected due to stipulations from the donors and require a Research Agreement to access. See our information about Protected Content on the Access & Use page for information about how to access this material. ALOT also has other materials in its holdings that are not available online (either due to processing and/or digitization backlog or other reasons); if you have any questions about materials that ALOT may have, or any other reference questions, please contact us.
For general questions, please contact us at alot-contact at sfu.ca.
Elise Chenier is the Director of the Archives. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. Elise has been researching and writing about lesbian history for over a decade and has conducted a number of oral history interviews, all of which have been donated to ALOT. She is becoming increasingly interested in digital humanities and in making use of the web to democratize research. Elise can be contacted at:
Elise Chenier, Project Director
Associate Professor, Department of History
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6