Annual report 2016

Skeivt arkiv are shown around Lesbian Herstory Archives by veteran activist and archivist Maxine Wolfe
Skeivt arkiv are shown around Lesbian Herstory Archives by veteran activist and archivist Maxine Wolfe
2015 ended on a positive note for Skeivt arkiv, with the news that we would be on the national budget with a permanent grant starting in 2016. This turned 2016 into an exiting and challenging year, shaped by the move from being a project to becoming a permanent archive.We are very grateful to all those who made it possible for Skeivt arkiv to be permanently established as the national archive for queer history in Norway: Politicians, supports, archive donors and everyone else who has supported the initiative. The process from project to permanence has been demanding, in time and energy, and both in the archive and outside of it a feeling of impatience and eagerness to get started has shaped our work this year. The organisation of the archive and staffing efforts have taken their time, but as 2016 comes to an end we are approaching some of our goals: Positions have been filled, with more to come, giving us a solid team to cover the width of our mandate, documenting and disseminating queer history.

What is Skeivt arkiv?

Skeivt arkiv has always been thought of as a centre for documentation and dissemantion in the widest sense of the words. Thanks to permanent funding this may now be realised. This means we work to actively collect, conserve and make available physical archives, but in addition to these core tasks we collect books, magazines and other printed sources of LGBT history, as well as collecting oral histories, both written and in video/audio form. We also work with dissemination and communication through digital resources on our website, including the online encyclopedia Skeivopedia ("Queeropedia"). Further dissemination is done through talks, media presence, facilitation for students and researchers, informational work and exhibitions. For instance Skeivt arkiv is actively working on initiating and developing exhibits in collaboration with museums, bringing queer history to a wider public.



Historian Birger Berge submitted his master's thesis on the understanding of family in the gay movement 1973-2008 in the spring of 2016, and used Skeivt arkiv for his research.
Historian Birger Berge submitted his master's thesis on the understanding of family in the gay movement 1973-2008 in the spring of 2016, and used Skeivt arkiv for his research.


One of the key tasks in the past year as been developing and hiring new positions to staff Skeivt arkiv. By the end of 2016, this process is almost complete.

As of December 5 2016, there are four permanent staff at Skeivt arkiv: Runar Jordåen (Academic Director), Hannah Gillow Kloster (Digital Archivist), Ragnhild Bjelland (Archivist) og Heidi Rohde Rafto (Senior Excecutive Officer).

Jordåen is a historian who specialises in queer/lgbt history, and has been the project manager for Skeivt arkiv since July 2014. Since August 2016 he has been hired as the Academic Director for the archive in a permanent position. Gillow Kloster holds a master's degree in Digital Humanities and has worked on the project since September 2014. Starting in July 2016 she has been the archive's digital archivist, responsible for amongst others web, digitizing and archival work. Heidi Rohde Rafto is a social anthropologist who has worked with the project since 2014, and starting December 1st 2016 has been hired in a permanent position with tasks such as archival work and cataloging, dissemination, and work with oral histories. Ragnhild Bjelland is a historian and archivist with extensive experience from Oslo City Archives, The National Archives, and the ASTA-foundation. Starting October 15 2016 she has been Skeivt arkiv's archivist. 

Two 3 year positions on the oral history project "Skeive livsminner" have also been filled, with Jo Hjelle as the videographer/editor and Bjørn André Widwey as the interviewer. 

In addition to this, Simon Mitternacht has continued his work with Skeivt arkiv as part of his position as University Librarian. Siri Lindstad and Mona Moe were hired for 8 months to conduct video interviews as part of a pre-project to Skeivt arkiv's oral history project, and librarian Elisabeth Solheim has been hired in a temporary, part time position to catalog books and periodicals. 


Advisory board 

In June the creation of an advisory board for Skeivt arkiv was approved by the board of the University of Bergen Library. The group will represent the research, archive, museum and lgbt sectors. They will contribute to and make sure the archive is kept to a high standard, run in an efficient and expedient manner, aid in contact with external parties such as politicians and organisations, and contribute to Skeivt arkiv's planning documents. 

The University Library board named Tone Hellesund (Professor, UiB), Camilla Brautaset (Associate Professior, UiB), Anne Aune (County Archivist Hordaland), Liv Ramskjær (Secretary General of the Norwegian Museum Association) and Ingvild Endestad (leader, FRI - Foreningen for kjønns- og seksualitetsmangfold). 

The group's first meeting was held December 14 2016.


Acitivies and events

Skeivt arkiv has arranged and participated in multiple events and activities in the past year. An important moment in the spring semester was the opportunity to participate in FRI's annual meeting, presenting a series of short anecdotes to illustrate queer history in Norway. The response to our presentations here was overwhelming, and it was fantastic to see and hear such enthusiasm for queer history from every generation of the queer/lgbt movement!



Queer historical city walk during Bergen Pride
Queer historical city walk during Bergen Pride

This year, as last year, we also hosted a queer historical city walk during Bergen Pride, with over 60 walkers total split between two walks. Those who joined could learn about the sculptor Ambrosia Tønnessen and her life partner Mary Banks, the "Gay Scandal of 1909", and the club Studio 52. 

June 10th we launched our digital timeline of Norway's queer history, which we have developed on assignment from LHBT-senteret. 10. juni var det klart for lansering av tidslinjen over Norges skeive historie, som Skeivt arkiv har utviklet på oppdrag fra The LGBT Knowledge Centre. The launch was a collaboration with the periodical MELK, which was also launched at the same event, where participants were encouraged to write their own queer history onto a physical timeline which has now been archived with Skeivt arkiv. 


Skeivt arkiv manning the stand during Oslo Pride
Skeivt arkiv manning the stand during Oslo Pride

In the early summer we had a stand at Oslo Pride, which is always a great way to reach out to people and share queer history with new audiences. At the same time we participated in the conference “Without Borders - LGBTQ+ Archives, Libraries and Special Collections” in London, where we for the first time presented Skeivt arkiv to an international public of archivists in the same professional field. It was hugely inspirational to see the size of the LGBTQ+ archival field, both with dedicated archives and museums, as well as established institutions promoting queer aspects of their own collections. 

As a newly established archive it has been important to us to learn from those with years of experience. A study trip has been planned for a long time, and this August we were given the opportunity to make this happen. Skeivt arkiv visited eight of the foremost queer archives in existence today:

  • Gerber/Hart Archives & Library (Chicago)
  • Leather Archives & Museum (Chicago)
  • The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies (Minneapolis)
  • New York Public Library Gay Collection
  • The LGBT Community Center National History Archives (Greenwich Village, New York)
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives (Brooklyn, New York)
  • Fales Special Collections ved New York University
  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Harlem, New York).

These queer archives/collections have different histories, structures and organisation, but a mutual goal of conserving and disseminating queer history. Some are activist archives run by volunteers, some are private foundations, others are part of larger public institutions. Every archival visit was incredibly instructional and inspiring. Worth a particular mention though, is the Tretter Collection. As a part of the Special Collections at University of Minnesota, the Tretter Collection's institutional ties are very similar to those of Skeivt arkiv. Lesbian Herstory Archives is also a historic institution in and of itself, and we were lucky enough to be given a tour by Maxine Wolfe, one of the original initiatiors to the archive, who has been a part of LHA since the 1970s. 

The autumn semester was no slower. Towards the end of august the New York based artist Carlos Motta hosted a seminar with students from The Bergen Academy of Art and Design, where they used materials from Skeivt arkiv for their projects. 

November 3 and 4 we arranged the conference "Queer Archivism", where all the Norwegian queer/lgbt organisations were invited to participate in discussions on how we can all take care of our mutual queer history and the materials from each organisation. During the conference we also heldt a political debate with Anette Trettebergstuen (AP), Henning Warloe (H), Ingvild Endestad and Tone Hellesund. In collaboration with our colleagues at the Picture Collection we also created a photo exhibition on queer acitivism through the last six decades. The exhibit was placed in windows facing a busy city street, reaching people who otherwise might not have sought information about queer history.


Debate on dissemination of queer history, here with Anette Trettebergstuen and Tone Hellesund
Debate on dissemination of queer history, here with Anette Trettebergstuen and Tone Hellesund

In November we also particpated in Arctic Pride in Tromsø, where Academic Director Runar Jordåen held a presentation on the author Alf Martin Jæger, who with his pioneering novel Odd Lyng for the first time in Norwegian fiction used the word "homosexual".

During Bergen Art Book Fair Galleri Pamflett also created an exhibition based on periodicals, posters and flyers from Skeivt arkiv. 

We have also started planning a larger museum exhibition in Oslo, which will open summer 2017 and be a collaboration with Kulturhistorisk museum i Oslo and Kunstplass [10]. 


Skeive livsminner - oral history project. 

2016 is also the year where Skeivt arkiv's oral history project finally got off the ground. During an 8 month period, Siri Lindstad and Mona Moe have collected 29 interviews, mainly in the Eastern part of Norway. Their work has resulted in a series of wonderful, strong and interesting interviews, creating unique and priceless archive materials. Amongst those interviewed are Vigdis Bunkholdt, a board member of the first Norwegian LGBT organisation in the 1950s, Kirsti Malterud who was Norway's first female professor of general medicine, Anders Rogg, musician, actor and director, and Kenneth Brophy, who founded the lgbt movement in Bergen.


Discussion panel on gender and language at Studentersamfunnet i Bergen
Discussion panel on gender and language at Studentersamfunnet i Bergen

Archival growth and numbers

In 2016 we have received over 25 donations of personal and organisational archival materials, including the archive of FRI Bergen Hordaland, which was transferred from the Hordaland County Archives. We have also supplemented our library holdings through extensive gifts and purchases of key works as well as antiquarian books. Several key organisational archives are also scheduled to be added to the archival holdings in 2017. The total donations for 2016 comprise of about 50 linear metres. 

636 books are registered at University of Bergen's library database by the end of 2016. 

Our online encyclopedia Skeivopedia boasts 101 unique articles on queer history, with 19 of them available in English. We are hoping to be able to translate more of these articles in 2017, making our knowledge base available for a wider audience. 

Similarly, while only 1 short interview has been subtitled in English by the end of 2016, Skeivt arkiv hopes to publish subtitled snippets of many oral history interviews in the coming year. 

Skeivt arkiv has held a total of 24 presentations in 2016, and created or collaborated on three exhibitions.