The OAH Magazine of History

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History of Sexuality

from the executive director

By Lee W. Formwalt

The origins of this issue on the history of sexuality can be traced to a National History Day summer institute I directed four years ago in Atlanta. Thirty teachers from around the country attended this weeklong institute focused on the history of the civil rights movement. The first four days dealt with the African American Freedom Struggle from 1865 to 1965. On the last day we looked at all those other movements that sprang from the civil rights movement and those turbulent years of the Sixties—the antiwar movement and the movements for equal rights for women, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, gays and lesbians, and people with disabilities. We decided to focus our discussion on two groups: women and homosexuals. Read more >

from the editor

By Kevin B. Byrne

The burgeoning field of the history of sexuality encompasses themes related both to normative and nonnormative aspects of sexuality. For this issue of the OAH Magazine of History, guest editor Leisa D. Meyer has chosen to emphasize the latter for reasons she cogently explains in her Foreword. Nonnormative sexuality, a prevalent topic in the popular and political cultures around us, will become increasingly visible in U.S. history textbooks as scholars continue to explore this rich field. The articles here focus mainly on the post-World War II era, where much, but far from all, of the scholarly work is happening. We have chosen a cover that reflects this postwar emphasis: a photo of Christine Jorgensen, who became a celebrity in the 1950s after sex-change surgery. As author Joanne Meyerowitz explains, one gains significant historical insights by studying Jorgensen’s story and the public’s response to it. Read more >


“Sexual Revolutions”,
by Leisa D. Meyer
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Everyone’s Queer,
by Leila Rupp
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Remembering Bayard Rustin,
by John D’Emilio
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Transforming Sex: Christine Jorgensen in the Postwar U.S.,
by Joanne Meyerowitz
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The Supreme Court’s Sexual Counter-Revolution,
by Marc Stein
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Different Daughters,
by Marcia M. Gallo
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teaching resources

The Long Sixties,
by Ian Lekus
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Borderlands, Diasporas, and Transnational Crossings: Teaching LGBT Latina and Latino Histories,
by Horacio N. Roque Ramírez
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No Secret Anymore: Lesbian Representations in Cold War America,
by Marcia M. Gallo
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Domesticity: The Human Side of Benjamin Franklin,
by Michael Sletcher
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america on the world stage

Returning the West to the World,
by Stephen Aron
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National Park Service Historic Sites: The National Mall and Memorial Parks
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