Speaking Out: cataloguing advocacy, support and empowerment in the Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard archives


  • University of Edinburgh

Project summary

Opening on 2 March 1974, Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard (LGLS) was the UK’s first gay helpline and Scotland's first gay charity. It is an activist-run mental and physical health service for LGBT people in the Lothians and beyond. Despite its pioneering history, LGLS archives remain largely invisible to researchers in their current, uncatalogued state. 

Speaking Out aims to catalogue, rehouse and selectively digitise archives created by LGLS. The project will disseminate its findings to academics and the wider public and address key ethical, visibility and sensitivity issues through collaborative engagement with academic and stakeholder communities.

This project aims to open up this collection to researchers by cataloguing and indexing to comply with archival standards to ensure maximum general research access. We will identify sensitivities/ethical issues and apply appropriate closure periods. We will use anonymised transcription to provide a way in to selected confidential records, encouraging academic researchers to apply for access through established procedures. We will rehouse records in archival-quality storage and digitise selected material (such as locally-specific newsletters unavailable elsewhere in physical or digital form) to aid free remote research. We will promote the collection to research audiences through targeted activities and record 3–5 oral histories, adding context for researchers.