CLAGS Builds LGBTQ History Website: OutHistory.org

The as-yet unnamed queer history website is now OutHistory.org! Generously
funded by the Arcus Foundation, OutHistory.org will be a free, accessible educational
website on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history.
The site itself will consist of several layers: curated “exhibits” by experts in various
historical fields, public contributions, discussion boards, and an ever-growing archive
of primary and scholarly materials. A prototype of this ambitious site is expected to
go online in 2008. This prototype will suggest the variety of primary documents and
secondary texts, audio and visual materials, and timelines that will eventually make this
a major, ongoing contribution to the recovery of a previously hidden history.
Inspired by the achievements of Wikipedia, OutHistory.org will encourage and
welcome content contributions from the public. Using the Wiki format, the site will
allow users to comment on and discuss each content entry, as well as the site itself. The
format will also encourage teachers to use the site as a teaching tool and to work with
their students in researching, writing, and producing content for the site.
Work on OutHistory.org began in earnest at the first Advisory Board meeting
of historians and historically-oriented scholars on June 1 and 2, 2007. The meeting
generated exciting ideas for future exhibits from prominent scholars: John D’Emilio
with an exhibit on Chicago LGBTQ history, C. Todd White on the pre-gay movement
and ONE Incorporated, Jonathan Ned Katz on the early American colonies, Mimi
McGurl on lesbian theater history, Esther Newton on aspects of lesbian history, and
Tavia Nyong’o on the histories of LGBTQ persons of African descent. Tey Meadow
and other advisors will reinterpret and present historic transgender documents from
Katz’s Gay American History and Gay/Lesbian Almanac, as well as new documents. Other
scholars have promised to participate when their schedules permit. As the site grows,
new “exhibits” will be featured on a variety of queer historical topics: Native American
LGBTQ history, LGBTQ youth culture, and organizing in high schools and college and
university campuses.
While our archive will start small, we hope to expand it into a significant source
of queer-related materials unavailable elsewhere. Thanks to a generous donation from
Dr. William D. Lubart, the collection will include digitized versions of selections from
CLAGS’ extensive audio archive of past lectures, panels and colloquia. Numerous
scholars have already responded to our call for materials; our most recent additions are:
• English translations by Maya De Leo of major early Italian texts on homosexuality;
• the first three editions of Barbara Grier’s bibliography “The Lesbian in Literature”;
• a section of Daniel Hurewitz’s book on historic gay and lesbian places to visit;
• “Out and Elected,” an exhibit of original photos and interviews by Ron Schlittler
of 115 openly gay and lesbian people elected to public office in the U.S.;
• images from Marshall Weeks’ collection of novelty postcards dating to the earlytwentieth-
century that reflect concerns about “masculine” women, “feminine”
men, “fairies” and “sissy boys.”
• Jonathan Ned Katz has also volunteered all relevant texts and visuals from his
out-of-print books, a never-published chapter from his last book Love Stories, a
series of popular history essays published in The Advocate, and a historical article
on Herman Melville’s novel Redburn, published in The Village Voice.
For more information or to volunteer content, expertise, or financial support, contact
Lynley Wheaton, the Project Coordinator, at lwheaton@gc.cuny.edu or Jonathan
Ned Katz, the Project Director, at jnkatz1@aol.com.

The Nuts and Bolts
of OutHistory.org currently, Cidamon, the web
design team for OutHistory.
org is in phase one of the website’s
construction. They have successfully
adapted the open source MediaWiki
software to our sites needs creating a
functional framework for the site. As
the web design team works on ironing
out technical bugs and constructing
the site’s search engine, the OutHistory
staff has been busily scanning and
digitizing content in preparation for
the completion of the site’s framework
as well writing content for the site’s
main and consistent pages. We hope
to finish phase one by this winter at
which point we will begin uploading
entries into our prototype bringing us
one step closer to launching our site.