An introductory list of collections for researchers interested in LGBTQ+ history.
Items on this list may be explicitly LGBTQ+ items, such as the Bisexual, Lesbian or Gay Society files; or they may be associated with LGBTQ+ issues through their authorship, as with the Hamish Henderson collection. For further information on any of these materials, or to suggest a collection to be added to this page, please contact the CRC.
Books can be found on DiscoverEd - for items held by the CRC, go to the ‘show only’ column on the left when searching, and click ‘special collections’. Archival material can be found on the Archives Catalogue, or by enquiring directly to the CRC.
W H Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) was an English-American poet and writer. His work was both controversial and influential, ranging from travel writings, to political essays, to opera liberetti. He had long term romantic relationships with Christopher Isherwood and Chester Kallman, with whom he also collaborated creatively.
The CRC holds a great deal of Auden material, including signed copies of his works, first and rare editions, and manuscripts (Coll-45). Many of these items were donated by his bibliographer, B. Bloomfield, and the Auden scholar E. Mendelson; there is a seperate collection relating to their bibliography of Auden’s works (Coll-1623 and Gen.2239) A detailed handlist of Coll-45 is available at the CRC (Handlist 45) Some items can also be found in the A H Campbell collection.
The printed books, donated by Bloomfield, are all catalogued on DiscoverEd and there is more information in the rare books directory.
Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was an English-American novelist. His most well-known works include The Berlin Stories and A Single Man. Isherwood was gay, and this was a central theme in his works, many of which were semi-autobiographical. In 1953 he met Don Bachardy, and the couple remained together until Isherwood’s death. Bachardy painted Isherwood’s final days, during which he suffered from prostate cancer, and these were collected and published in the book Last Drawings of Christopher Isherwood.
The CRC holds several volumes of Isherwood’s work, including first editions from various countries, and some manuscript material (some of which can be found in the Auden and Campbell collections). Staff at the CRC can help you to locate these.
Fred Urquhart (1912-1995) was a Scottish writer, particularly of short stories. During his life he also worked as a literary agent, editor, script-reader, and reviewer, to supplement his income from writing. Urquhart was a pacifist, and during WWII was a conscientious objector, instead working the land. This rural setting inspired much of his work. He lived in Suffolk with his partner, ballet dancer Peter Allen, for much of his adult life. When Allen died in 1990, he moved back to Scotland.
The Fred Urquhart collection contains materials relating to his works, unpublished manuscripts, and correspondence with his contemporaries. A full description can be found in the Scottish Literary Papers research resource.
Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) was a Scottish poet, songwriter, and political activist. Despite arguing for peace, he enlisted as a soldier in WWII. He both wrote his own pieces and collected songs and lyrics from this time. Post-war, he was instrumental in the Scottish folk revival, and became a great collector of folksongs and folklore. Along with Calum Maclean, he co-founded the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Henderson was openly bisexual, and vocal about his support of gay rights.
The Hamish Henderson archive contains papers and correspondence relating to all aspects of his career. This includes original writings, fieldwork notes, collected ephemera, and extensive correspondence. A full description of the collection can be found on the CRC website.
Please note that this collection contains personal information covered by the General Data Protection Regulations, and may require screening. If you wish to view anything from this collection, please get in touch with the CRC well in advance of your intended visit to allow us to prepare for this.
Bisexual, Lesbian or Gay Society papers
The Bisexual, Lesbian or Gay Society - commonly known as BLOGS - is the LGBT student society at the University of Edinburgh. It is now known as PrideSoc. The CRC holds the records of the society from 1973-1999 (EUA IN20/SOC/BIS). These materials include the constitution, registration forms, correspondence, and society information.
Please note that much of this collection contains personal information covered by the General Data Protection Regulations, and may require screening. If you wish to view anything from this collection, please get in touch with the CRC well in advance of your intended visit to allow us to prepare for this.
Papers of Roger Davidson - Wolfenden material, Scottish gay law reform
Roger Davidson (b. 1946) is Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Edinburgh. He has researched and published works on the history of the State’s response to sexual issues in the 20th century, particularly in Scotland.
Davidson co-authored a book, The Sexual State: Sexuality and Scottish Governance 1950-80, which was published in 2012. The materials he used to prepare this are now held by the CRC. These include items relating to the Wolfenden Report, censorship in Scotland, and prostitution, among other topics. A full listing is available on the archive catalogue (Coll-1497)
LGBT collections at Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA)
The archive of Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard covers thirty years of LGBT history in Edinburgh, Scotland and beyond. Although call logs can only be accessed by legitimate researchers under strict conditions, reports, magazines (going back to the first ever issue of Gay Scotland) and publicity material collected by Befrienders tell stories of support, community and activism.
LHSA holds unrivalled collections that document Edinburgh’s response to HIV from 1983 to the 21st century, spanning voluntary groups, charities, local authorities, the NHS, and health promotion campaigns. The city’s high HIV transmission rate in the 1980s was mostly due to needle sharing through intravenous drug use, but, by the 1990s, transmission through homosexual sex increased. However, LGBT groups were always deeply involved in HIV prevention, treatment and care in Edinburgh, aware of how the virus had affected gay communities on both sides of the Atlantic. Just a few examples in LHSA collections include:
- Issues of Rainbow Trout, an information bulletin for young gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, 1996-1997 (LHB45/1/4/2).
- HIV Comeback Tour, the award-winning campaign launched in 2006 aimed to raise awareness of HIV amongst gay and bisexual men. It was formulated and evaluated through focus groups, and created by a partnership between voluntary organisations and Lothian Health Board (LHB45/1/3/1/5-11).
- Material from Scottish AIDS Monitor (SAM). Scotland’s first AIDS charity was founded by gay activists as early as 1982, informing and educating in an age of misunderstanding and misinformation (throughout collections, for example, LHB45/1/2/2/16-22).
- World AIDS Day falls on 1 December every year since 1988. It is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died (GD1/135/4/3).
- Issues of Meridian, a monthly bulletin for people involved in HIV/AIDS work. Several publications focusing on the LGBT community can be found in the Take Care Campaign collection, 1968-2000 (for example, GD22/8/1/25,47 and GD22/8/2/9,15).
For a more detailed list of LGBT resources held in Lothian Health Services Archive, please see the source list on the LHSA website: http://www.lhsa.lib.ed.ac.uk/source/LGBTQ.htm
Historical LGBTQ+ Alumni
This is not an exhaustive list. There are varying materials on these graduates, including matriculation/graduation records, works, etc. If you believe you know of a historic graduate of UoE that may have been LGBTQ+, please do get in touch.
Dr James Miranda Steuart Barry (c.1795-1865)
James Barry was a transgender military surgeon, born in Ireland. He gained a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1812. Barry quickly progressed through the military, and was stationed across the British Empire. He revolutionised healthcare in South Africa, instating new hygiene and pharmacy regulations, and improving conditions for slaves, prisoners, and the mentally ill. He died in London in 1865, and against his wishes, his body was undressed, and his assigned birth sex was revealed.
CK Scott Moncrieff (1889-1930)
CK Scott Moncrieff was a gay Scottish author and translator, best known for his translations of Proust. He studied both Law and Literature at the University of Edinburgh, and graduated from a Masters in Anglo-Saxon in 1914. After working in the editorial staff of The Times, Scott Moncrieff moved to Italy in 1923. He died there of cancer in 1930.
Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989)
Bruce Chatwin was a a bisexual travel writer, author, and journalist. He studied archaeology at the University of Edinburgh from 1966, but left after two years to pursue his writing career. Chatwin became one of the first notable British figures to contract HIV, and died of an AIDS-related illness (although he hid this at the time).
Ian Charleson (1949-1990)
Ian Charleson was a gay Scottish actor, best known for his role as Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire. He was renowned for his theatre performances, particularly his final performance as Hamlet. Charleson was diagnosed with HIV in 1986, and requested that after his death it be publicised that he had died of AIDS, in order to raise awareness and acceptance of the illness. His was the first celebrity death that was openly attributed to AIDS in the UK.
This list was compiled by CRC Modern Apprentice Caspian Reid and we welcome further contributions by staff, students and members of the public.