This weekend, the University of Victoria will play host to what's being billed as the largest conference on transgender issues in Canadian history.

Presentations include topics as diverse as transgender people in literature, transgender bodies in erotic films and crossdressing in Early Modern England.

UVic is a prime place for the conference, as the university is home to one of the largest archives of transgender-related material in the world.

"We have had dozens and dozens of researchers coming from around the world to look at our collections," UVic archivist Lara Wilson told Early Edition host Rick Cluff. "It really shows the scope of [transgender] activism over the course of the 20th century."

The collection includes activist memorabilia such as pins, T-shirts and posters, as well as books, pamphlets and community newsletters — the main way transgender communities shared information before the rise of the internet.

UVic a leader in transgender studies

UVic is something of a world leader in the field of transgender studies. In addition to the conference and its archives, the university appointed a research chair in transgender studies in January — a world first, it says.

The inaugural chair, Dr. Aaron Devor, founded the university's transgender archive in 2012. The bulk of the archives were inherited from Rikki Swin, whose extensive collection formed the basis for the archive when Swin moved to Victoria from Chicago.

One of Wilson's favourite items in the archive is a collection of nightclub matchbook covers.

"These were obviously clubs where there were either cross-dressing revues or they were transgender-friendly nightclubs, and somebody kept all these matchbook covers," she said.

With files from The Early Edition.