As historians seek to integrate LGBT history into their historical narratives, the Library Company’s 2014 exhibition That’s So Gay: Outing Early America continues to receive accolades. This was clear at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, held the first week of January in Washington, D.C. Our Curator of Women’s History, Connie King, spoke on her experience curating the exhibition and the decisions that she made. Commenters now describe the exhibition as pathbreaking for its public history approach to the topic.
Panel on Outing the Early American Past (left to right, Thomas J. Balcerski, James T. Downs, Kate Culkin, Connie King, and Richard Godbeer, Chair)
Other speakers on the same panel shared their work on President James Buchanan (and his “intimate friend” Rufus King), ex-pat sculptor Harriet Hosmer (and her “flirtations” in 19th-century Rome), and other figures. The first of fifteen sessions that were co-sponsored by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, Connie’s session underscored the availability of sources and highlighted the work of other scholars studying LGBT history—and the challenges of researching the period before the creation of the LGBT lexicon in the 20th century. IT Manager Nicole Scalessa confirms the fact that the online version of the That’s So Gay exhibition continues to get attention: 6,467 hits in 2016 and 8,261 in 2017. Those numbers are significant!