An Irish woman and a Hungarian woman went to London…so begins this tale of Irish-Hungarian queer collaboration. In June 2016 Orla Egan, Cork LGBT Archive, and Anna Borgos, Labrisz, both presented papers at the ALMS (Archives, Libraries, Museums, Special Collections) LGBT Conference in London. I was talking about my work in developing the Cork LGBT Archive, while Anna talked about establishing a Hungarian Lesbian Herstory Archive, on a panel alongside Ruanr and Tone from Skeivt arkiv in Norway.
The ALMS LGBT Conference was amazing and stimulating and created many opportunities for connections and collaborations amongst people and organisations working on queer history and archival projects. Following the conference Anna and I kept in touch and exchanged further information about our projects. Then in January 2017 I met with another member of Labrisz, Mária Kristófy (Kymi), in Cork. Kymi’s story is one of those told in Secret Years, the Labrisz oral history project. The Secret Years documentary, video archive and book tell the stories of Hungarian lesbian women and provides a unique insight into their experiences.
On Kymi’s visit to Cork I took her to the Quay Co-op, central to LGBT and radical activism in Cork in the 1980s, and to visit Linc, Cork’s community centre for lesbians and bisexual women, further cementing the Irish-Hungarian connections.
In developing a digital archive for the Cork LGBT Archive I have sought to develop a model which could be replicated by other community groups. One of the barriers to the development of community digital archives is the perception that to do so is expensive and requires extensive digital and technological skills. I therefore strove to develop a low-cost, low-tech model which could be used by other groups. However, I had yet to test this model. I needed to find out if it was easy to share the knowledge in a workshop and support a community group to use this model to establish their own digital archive.
Labrisz has an impressive lesbian oral history project but had not yet developed a digital archive. Building on the Irish-Hungarian connections, we decided that I would come to Budapest to deliver a workshop on Developing a Digital Archive. A travel grant from the UCC History Department enabled this trip to happen.