William & Mary launching a gay history project

Historians in the News
tags: gay history, LGBT



Thumbnail Image - President of the Mattachine Society of Washington Charles Francis, pictured at far right at an event in Washington, D.C., attended the interest meeting for the College's Mattachine Project. COURTESY PHOTO / MATTACHINE SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON

The College of William and Mary is launching the Mattachine Research Project to research and archive the history of LBGTIQ people in Virginia.  The College’s project will be working with the Mattachine Society of Washington whose goal is to archive LGBTIQ history.

Similar projects are being conducted in other states.  The project is recruiting graduate and undergraduate researchers. Project researchers will search Virginia archives, including the Virginia Historical Society, the Library of Virginia and the Valentine Project. Old newspaper articles from Virginia newspapers like the Richmond Times Dispatch and transcripts from the General Assembly will also be searched.  Documents in Earl Gregg Swem library archiving the history of LGBTIQ people at the College will be studied. The Mattachine Research Project will digitize and upload articles to its website for view by the public.

Researchers will look at how laws in Virginia have affected LGBTIQ people.  Jan Hubenthal M.A. ’13, Ph.D. ’18, an American Studies Ph.D. student and the College’s Mattachine Project research fellow, said researchers will focus on discriminatory laws regarding bars and ABC stores. He gave the example of the Alcohol Beverage Control agency instructing bars not to serve alcohol to known homosexuals. Another example provided was how Crimes Against Nature laws, which were anti-sodomy laws, discriminated against LBGTIQ people.

Virginia’s history will be on display throughout the project.  American studies and history professor and Director of the Mattachine Research Project at the College Leisa Meyer said she hopes that the project will reveal unique connections to other Virginia historical events.

“Richmond was the capital of the confederacy,” Meyer said. “There is a history of slavery and race relations. Virginia was the site of massive resistance in terms of segregation. I am hoping that we will find ways with this project to see how sexuality and race are intertwined and of speaking across what some might understand as barriers.” ...




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