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Welcome to the introductory guide to pre-wwii accounts of LGBT+ people. This guide focuses primarily on primary sources, and secondary sources created during the relevant time period. The geographical focus of this guide is on America and Western Europe, particularly Germany, England, and France. This guide is intended for use in either an archives setting, or in an undergraduate class.
On this page, you will find book resources. The books are arranged roughly in chronological order by time period discussed within the text, rather than publication date. They are further divided into primary and secondary sources, although in the case of some of the resources it may be a questionable distinction.
Due to the nature of this subject, many of the resources contain graphic discussion of physical and social violence against LGBT+ people, as well as people of color.
Autobiography of an Androgyne by
Publication Date: 2005-01-01
An early autobiography of a self-identified "androgyne" or transvestite, first published in 1918. Earl Lind (also known as Ralph Werther and Jennie June) is also the author of The Female Impersonators, first published in 1922, and The Riddle of the Underworld. All three books were written with the social aid of a physician, and were published in medical journals. June writes honestly and frankly about the social and physical dangers of gender-nonconformity.
Lind, Earl (1918). Autobiography of an Androgyne. New York, NY: The Medico-Legal Journal.
The Female-Impersonators by
Publication Date: 2016-06-26
The second volume in June's (or Werther's, or Lind's) autobiographical writings, the author focuses on the hardships she and her compatriots face as people outside of heteronormative society. June writes to emphasize that people who depart from heteronormative roles and performances of gender and sexuality should not be punished for it, and that moreover these people are not sick or hurt. She writes frankly about physical and social violence that she and her acquaintances face.
Werther, Ralph (1922). The Female-Impersonators. New York, NY: The Medico-Legal Journal.
The Riddle of the Underworld
Sections of the third volume of Jennie June's (Ralph Werther/Earl Lind) autobiography. The text is so far incomplete and unpublished in physical book form, but is available through this link.
Earl Lind (Ralph Werther-Jennie June): The Riddle Of the Underworld, 1921. Outhistory.org: It's About Time. http://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/earl-lind
First Five Years of Philip C. Van Buskirk's Diaries
Housed at the Archives of the University of Washington are the papers of a U.S. Marine in the 1860s. Philip C. Van Buskirk kept extensive journals of his time in the Marines, including frank discussions of his erotic encounters and romantic partnerships with men while at sea. His papers span from 1851-1902. Not all are available digitally for free, but the first five years of his diaries are available through the Academic Commons of the University of Washington.
The Journals Of Philip C. Van Buskirk. https://vanbuskirk.commons.gc.cuny.edu/the-diary-of-philip-c-van-buskirk/
The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister by
Publication Date: 2012-06-19
Although Lister's complete decoded diaries are not available, this volume is a starting point.
Born in 1791 to a family of English gentry, Anne Lister was an English diarist and explorer. When this selected volume of Anne Lister's diaries was initially published in 1988, it was hailed as a vital piece of lost lesbian history. The editor, Helena Whitbread, is an outstanding scholar of Lister and had spent years painstakingly researching and transcribing Lister's extensive journals, much of which were written in a code of Lister's own creation, which she called her 'crypthand', allowing her to record her life in intense, and at times, explicit, detail. Previously, Lister's lesbianism had been suppressed or hinted at; this was the first time her story had been told frankly and approaching completion.
Anne Lister-Helena Whitbread (2010). The secret diaries of Miss Anne Lister (1791-1840). London, UK: Virago Publishing.
No Priest but Love by
Publication Date: 1993-02-01
This second volume of selections of Anne Lister's diaries, edited by Liter scholar Helena Whitbread, here allows us an inside look at the love affair between Anne Lister and Marianna Lawton, an affair complicated by Anne's infatuation with Maria Barlow. It includes Lister's accounts of her travels to Paris and her introspections as well as insights into her relationships both platonic and romantic.
Anne Lister-Helena Whitbread (1993). No priest but love: Excerpts from the diaries of Anne Lister (1824-1826). New York University Press, NY.
We Are Everywhere by
Publication Date: May, 2019
Forthcoming in May, this book is the physical collection and extensive annotation of the @lgbt_history Instagram account.
Sexual Anomalies and Perversions: Physical and Psychological Development, Diagnosis and Treatment by
Publication Date: 1935
Widely considered the first gay rights activist, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld was the forerunner of medical and social acceptance of homosexuality as a natural occurrence and not an illness, Anomalies is an overview of his work as salvaged by his students after the destruction of his medical institute during WWII.
Hirschfeld, Magnus (1935). Sexual Anomalies and Perversions: Physical and Psychological Development, Diagnosis and Treatment. London, UK: Encyclopaedic Press.
Gay Berlin by
Publication Date: 2015-10-13
Historically known for the friendly company of its "warm brothers" (German slang for men who love other men), before the turn of the twentieth century, Berlin was a place where educators, activists, and medical professionals could explore and begin to educate both themselves and Europe about the new and emerging concepts of sexual identities as we now understand them. Reaching back to the nineteenth century, Beachy outlines the history of sexual orientation and identity as concepts in the European mind, and draws these threads together to explain how Berlin became a nexus of gay culture, as well as how these concepts extend to our own current understanding and identities.
Beachey, Robert (2015). Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a modern identity. New York City, NY: Knopf.
The Adolescent Girl Among Primitive People, by Miriam Van Waters
Publication Date: 1913
The doctoral dissertation of Van Waters, a social and prison reformer with a particular interest in the behavior of girls. Van Waters describes meeting lesbians as well as people who would now likely be considered transgender men, including Harry Livingston, a noted transgender man from Seattle.
Van Waters, M. (1913). The Adolescent Girl among Primitive People (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Clark University, Worcester, MA.
Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past by
Publication Date: 2011-09-01
Despite the long-held American popular vision of the frontier West as a place strongly regulated by its gender roles of rugged cowboys and delicate ladies, Peter Boag opens a luminary window onto the real Old West. Using numerous primary sources and surveying sexological and literary sources, Boag presents a West where cross-dressing in both sexes was pervasive, and where easterners as well as Mexicans and even Native Americans could redefine their gender and sexual identities. Boag examine why this history has been forgotten and erased. Citing the cultural moment at the turn of the twentieth century when the frontier ended is commonly accepted to have ended and the United States to have entered the modern era where homosexuality was defined, Boag shows how the American people, and thus the American nation, created for themselves an unambiguous, if somewhat fictitious, heterosexual identity.
Boag, Peter (2011). Re-dressing America's frontier past. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.
Gay Seattle by
Publication Date: 2013-03-01
Tracing the history of Seattle's gay history from 1893, when the Washington State legislature quietly began passing a set of laws that essentially made homosexuality, and eventually even the discussion of homosexuality, a crime, Gary Atkins outlines the demonization of gays by social crusaders around the turn of the century, the earliest prosecutions for sodomy, the official harassment and discrimination through most of the twentieth century, and the medical discrimination and commitment to mental hospitals that continued into the 1970s as homosexuality was diagnosed as a disease that could be "cured." His book follows the evolution of Seattle's gay community in those 100 turbulent years, telling through a century of stories how gays and lesbians have sought to achieve a sense of belonging in Seattle, as well as how that sense of community and history influences today's residents of Seattle.
Atkins, Gary (2013). Gay Seattle: Stories of exile and belonging. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.
Love Stories by
Publication Date: 2003-06-15
In Love Stories, Jonathan Ned Katz presents stories of men's intimacies with men during the nineteenth century, including those of Abraham Lincoln. He draws flesh-and-blood portraits of intimate friendships and the ways in which men struggled to name, define, and defend their sexual feelings for one another. Before having clear terms for heterosexuality and homosexuality, men like Walt Whitman and John Addington Symonds devised their own words and language to describe and articulate their erotic relationships with other men. Katz, drawing on history through sources including primary sources such as diaries, letters, newspapers, and poems, offers us a clearer picture than ever before of how men navigated their lives through these desires.
Katz, Jonathan N. (2003). Love stories: Sex between men before homosexuality. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.