LGBT History in the Digital Age

24 Jan

 

LGBT history is fairly new as a subfield of history, and is continuously growing as historians uncover more and more information about this complex past. Out History has formed a comprehensive look at all facets of LGBT history and has gathered not only primary documents over hundreds of years, but also has oral histories of many LGBT people. While this site provides an amazing resource to historians, there is so much more that can be learned about LGBT history, and the site provides a way to participate by either adding research or a personal story. Out History is a hub of digital information on a group of people who have often been marginalized or forgotten by other histories in the past, and the information keeps expanding every day.

Founded by Johnathan Ned Katz who developed the website in 2005 and then later redesigned the site to what it is today in 2011.[1] Katz, who is the author of Gay American History, which is a documentary history of the LGBT community. Katz’s book was revolutionary for historians as it had such an extensive collection of primary sources all in one spot. Published in 1976, right in the middle of the gay liberation movement, Katz spoke up for a history that was relatively untold saying, “Our existence as a long-oppressed, long-resistant social group was not explored.”[2] Katz’s name is one of the largest in LGBT history as he wanted to share the information that he had gathered for his book with the world over the internet. He not only wanted to create a space for LGBT history, but also a place for people to participate in the history by adding their own research or their own stories. [3]

The site itself is very simple and easy to use, especially with all of the features that it has. The homepage has a list of birthdays, “this day in history”, and other history highlights, many of which not only include site information about the topic, but also some other form of media to help illustrate what is going on. Out History has a fairly large collection of primary documents that have been digitally scanned for viewers, on topics going as far back as to Colonial America. [4] The scanned documents are easy to read and access, and some of them feature additional background information on the topic. In addition to the primary documents, Out History has information that is searchable by time period, location, and subject, making finding information very easy. The timeline feature is another great quality about the site with interactive timelines for viewers to go through on a variety of different subjects. [5]

The blog on Out History is another great resource on the future of LGBT history as a whole. Featured on the January 11, 2017 post, is another digital archive of LGBT history, the podcast, Making Gay History. Much like Out History, Making Gay History comes from primary documents in order to tell the story of the LGBT community. The founder of Making Gay History, Eric Marcus has collected a variety of oral histories of those who participated in the Gay Rights movement, and has produced them into a weekly podcast in order to tell their stories. [6] Out History also features an extensive book list of some of the best literature in the LGBT history field, many of which have descriptions and reviews that go along with them.

Out History is an amazing digital collection of all sorts of LGBT information, and it only keeps growing. While Out History founder Katz was severely marginalized by those in the field for writing LGBT history, as well as many other scholars, today the field is blossoming into a growing subfield with much more information, and much more of a voice. What Our History is doing is not only running a gigantic digital archive of information, but they are giving a voice to millions of others in the LGBT community.

[1] “About OutHistory · Outhistory.Org,” accessed January 24, 2017, http://outhistory.org/about-outhistory.

 

[2] Chrislove. “LGBT Literature: Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.” November 11, 2015. Accessed January 24, 2017. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/2/25/1279944/-LGBT-Literature-Gay-American-History-Lesbians-and-Gay-Men-in-the-U-S-A.

[3] “About OutHistory · Outhistory.Org,” accessed January 24, 2017, http://outhistory.org/about-outhistory.

 

[4] Katz, Jonathan Ned. “Colonial America: The Age of Sodomitical Sin · Outhistory.Org.” Accessed January 24, 2017. http://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/the-age-of-sodomitical-sin.

[5] “Browse Items · Outhistory.Org.” Accessed January 24, 2017. http://outhistory.org/items/browse?search=&advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=97&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=contains&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Timeline&type=17&submit_search=Search.

[6] Marcus, Eric. “Listen to the Voices.” January 11, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2017. http://outhistory.org/blog/digital-archives-listen-to-the-voices/.

 

 

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