Two Extraordinary Reviews for the Archives of Sexuality & Gender

The Archives of Sexuality & Gender: LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940, Part I brings together approximately 1.5 million pages of primary source content on social, political, health, and legal issues impacting LGBTQ communities around the world, including the gay rights movement, activism, the HIV/Aids crisis, and more. Documents are sourced from top libraries and archives like … Read more

Criminalizing Sexual and Gender Deviance

Posted on May 10, 2016

By: Jen Manion

The changing meanings and usages of terms related to gender and sexuality can be charted in the American Antiquarian Society Collection on Literature, Reports, and True Crime in Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920, which features a diverse range of true crime tales, dime store novels, formal state reports, and longer accounts, factual and fictitious. The term “gay” appears in over one thousand monographs over a one-hundred-year period from 1820–1930, peaking in the 1860s with 318 documents describing spirits, songs, companions, groups, conventions, deportment, and art. The term “unsex” appears a scant nine times. One such usage appeared in a trial testimony implicating a woman as an accessory to a crime for which her husband was charged:

But if you dare to raise your arm, to unsex yourself and engage in a conspiracy against the nation’s life and the nation’s honor, to make a widow of one of your own sex, to strike down the father and husband in the presence of his wife and child, I call upon this honest jury of my countrymen to spurn that spirit of mawkish sentimentality.[i]

Read more

Part One: Race & Gender in the Carceral State

Posted on May 2, 2016

By: Jen Manion

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920 is a trove of material for scholars and students interested in the history of gender, gender expression, and sexuality. Criminal accounts provide an illustrative window into the culture of the time by highlighting the lives, actions, and motives of those who crossed the line of so-called acceptable behavior. Women’s participation in illicit activities such as theft, robbery, assault, or murder were generally sensationalized in both trial and newspaper records, giving such accounts a sexual tinge no matter how seemingly mundane. The range of source material—from newspaper accounts to trial manuscripts to organizational records to sensational dime novels—allows readers to approach a singular topic from different perspectives. Historians can examine the treatment of people along lines of race, class, and gender, or chart changes in such regulations over time.

 

Crime blog image

Billings, Hammatt, and Gridley James Fox Bryant. View of the New Jail for Suffolk County, in the State of Massachusetts, Erecting by the City of Boston upon Charles & North Grove Sts: 1848 Josiah Quincy Jr. Mayor: G.J.F. Bryant Architect; H. Billings Del. [1848]. MS Nineteenth Century Crime: Literature, Reports, and True Crime from the American Antiquarian Society 152081. American Antiquarian Society. Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture 1790-1920.

 

 

Scholars are increasingly viewing the carceral state as an extensive network of institutions—from policing authorities, holding pens, and county jails to almshouses, hospitals, asylums, and houses of refuge—with deep roots throughout the country. There are many important inquiries in this area for historians of gender and sexuality working at the intersection of race and slavery. One story points to the unusual acquittal of an enslaved man for murder. Titled “Trial of a Slaver for Murder,” the article describes a slave named Richard who killed an enslaved woman named Maria under the orders of his mistress. The court ruled, “Whenever a slave, in the presence and command of his owners, committed an unlawful act, as murder or other crime, he was the mere instrument of his owner’s cruelty, and having no will of his own, could not be amenable to the punishment of the law.” This short account invites far more questions than it answers and is a starting point for exploration of criminal justice in slave holding Charleston, especially given the concluding sentence of the article: “The mistress is, therefore to be tried for killing Maria.”[i]

Read more

Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity: What is It?

Posted February 24, 2016

By Robert L. Lisiecki

As you may or may not know, Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, recently released a new primary source collection, Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity: LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940This collection brings together approximately 1.5 million pages of primary sources and is perfect for students, educators, and researchers looking for the largest available, accessible collection materials supporting Women, Gender, LGBTQ, and Sexuality studies.

Read more