Many library collections contain rich stories of individuals across centuries who transgressed sexual and gender norms, as well as documentation of the people and systems against which they transgressed. These historical artifacts can help shape new narratives around queer history and identity, or enrich old ones. Coded language and oblique references may pose challenges to researchers, but there is a wealth of material to find on queer people throughout history.
Each case in the exhibit highlights a different approach to researching queer history: using known figures, embracing uncomfortable terms, being open to the unexpected, and using secondary sources. We explored a number of fascinating stories but our research barely scratched the surface. We encourage researchers to continue the exploration and hope this exhibit will give you some tools to get started.
The exhibit was curated by A.J. Blechner, Anna Martin, and Mary Person and will be on view daily, 9-5, in Harvard Law School Library’s Caspersen Room through February 14, 2020.
Check out a few highlights from the exhibit here: www.bit.ly/hlslqtc
Image credit: Mary Frith in detail from title page of: The Roaring Girle or Moll Cut-Purse, by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker (London, 1611)