Sexual Representation Collection

Administered by the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, an academic unit within the University of Toronto, the SRC is Canada’s largest collection of sex work history and adult film history. With a particular focus on feminist, queer, trans, and kink sexual cultures, the collection contains roughly 1,500 8mm and 16mm films, 3,000 AIDS-era VHS, 1,000 AIDS-era magazines, hundreds of photographs and negatives, and 300 linear feet of personal papers, reports, art, kink objects, and unique ephemera dating from 1907 to the present. Among its many highlights, the SRC contains Latin American silent-era stag films (1907 – 1920s), 100+ U.S. pre-war hard-core films; hundreds U.S. coin-op peepshow films; hundreds of U.S and Canadian 1950s beefcake photographs; commercially produced VHS tapes from India and Pakistan (1980s-1990s); Japanese-language materials (1970s – 1990s); commercially produced AIDS-era gay male pornography from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada (1980s – 1990s); and the personal papers of journalists, activists, sex workers, adult film producers, adult film studio executives, and sex shop owners related to the global history of sex work and the legal regulation of obscenity in Canada.

Location and Contact Information

The Brian Pronger Reading Room is located on the lower level of University College, 15 King’s College Circle, Room 41. The SRC’s digitization and processing workspace is located next door, Room 43. The Archives Director, Prof. Patrick Keilty, can be reached by email at p.keilty@utoronto.ca. The SRC is accessible for visitors using wheelchairs or other mobility devices; additional arrangements can also be made on an individual basis.

Research Services

Researchers are welcome to visit the collection by appointment. Please contact the Archives Director to schedule a suitable time weekdays between 9am – 5pm. The Archives Director is happy to assist with any reference questions and to provide additional resources related to your research. Unfortunately, the SRC does not employ any full-time staff and is therefore limited in the kinds of remote assistance it can provide.

The SRC is a non-circulating collection, and most of its materials are stored off site. Digitization services, including digital research copies, are freely available upon request. Material held by the SRC is open to the public; some collections, including digital copies, may have restrictions based on individuals’ privacy, donor specific restrictions, and the condition of the material. Before visiting the SRC, please consult our list of finding aids below. Contact the Archives Director with details of the collection and boxes you wish to consult. Most material is made available within 48 hours. However, digital research copies may take longer. The Brian Pronger Reading Room contains a shared desktop computer with internet access, a scanner/ printer, a television with VHS and DVD players, an 8mm film projector, and an 8mm-cassette player. Researchers are strongly encouraged to bring their own laptops. For long-term visitors, wifi can be made available through the Centre.

Reproduction Policy

We ask researchers to request permission to publish, exhibit or use records and to determine the appropriate acknowledgement(s), particularly to ensure personal or confidential information is not released. Failure to acquire permissions or to provide adequate acknowledgement is a violation of copyright law. Researchers can use SRC’s digital scanner in the archive, with the assistance of SRC staff. Researchers are also permitted to use digital cameras, including smart phones. Please credit “The Sexual Representation Collection, Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto.”

Public Programming and Exhibits

SRC regularly organizes talks, panels, and workshops that provide a public forum for engaging social, cultural, and legal issues related to the sex industries, sex work, and pornography. These events bring together established and emerging scholars, people who have worked in the sex industry or are sex workers, and members of the community to develop a conversation that extends beyond the archive. In addition, SRC regularly partners with cultural institutions and university courses to exhibit highlights from the collection for a broader public. These exhibits rethink the politics and performance of public display and expand traditional ways of telling stories about archival objects. Support for these events comes from the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies and community partners. Please consult the Centre’s website for details about upcoming events and exhibits.

How to Donate Materials

The SRC actively accepts archival donations relating to sexual representation and its social and legal regulation, production, circulation, and consumption, with particular attention paid to feminist, queer, and kink material. Please contact the Archives Director with possible donations. Materials will be assessed according to our mandate, the significance of the materials, and space limitations for long-term storage and preservation.

Finding Aids