People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History is a part of the excellent Internet History Sourcebooks, edited by Paul Halsall and begun 1996. It “presents the history of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people [=LGBT]. It includes hundreds of original texts, discussions, and [soon] images, and addresses LGBT history in all periods, and in all regions of the world.” Its table of contents is easily navigated and educators will easily find secondary and primary sources in a variety of subfields.
It is sub-divided into logical categories that make it a joy for educators to use:
Introduction: History and Theory
Section I: The Ancient Mediterranean
Section II: Medieval Worlds [The West, Byzantium, Islam]
Section III: Europe to World War I
Section IV: Europe Since World War I
Section V: North America
Section VI: Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania
Section VII: Bibliographies
Section VIII: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* History Links
Section IX: Special Themes
Section X: FAQ
Section XI: Picture Gallery [Not Operational Yet]
Section XII: AHA Committee for Lesbian and Gay History: Book Reviews
Like all the material on this site, it is well presented, easily accessible, and shows the breadth and depth of understanding of Halsall, whose scholarly interests are quite apparent in the discussions. There are rich materials that any educator can use – in the public domain – to extend their course(s) in genuinely global ways. The articles in the theory section are a great way to find secondary sources for students to grapple with debates surrounding homosexuality and even heterosexuality in history.
When one moves to the particular sections, the breadth for a site that was created more than 20 years ago is still incredibly fascinating: the poem: Coptic Spell: For a Man to Obtain a Male Lover from the 6th century Egypt is a beautiful start in Section I. In Section II the variety of sources – from essays to primary documents and images, such as the ones illustrating erotic art could be a thoughtful addition to this period. In later periods the collection continues to be equally thoughtful, as educators will undoubtedly find materials to extend their courses beyond a more narrowly defined view of historical study. In other words, educators could use chosen documents from each section to show the role of the state in its leaders use of its power to control sexuality, responses of individual people to this control in different parts of the world – in this context some of the collections on China are quite interesting.
In essence then this is an excellent site to find additional materials with some caveats: some links are now dead, in other ways this site is dated, and other parts – such as the section on images – are still empty. Still the materials that this site provides educators with great resources and thought-provoking articles.
James A. Diskant, Ph.D, a historian of modern German History, is a retired high school history and government teacher. From 2001 to 2017 he taught at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Boston, Massachusetts, where he taught courses in world and big history, as well as in government and in research methods. As the author of student-based curricula, he had been an active member of history and pedagogical associations, including the World History Association and the National Council for the Studies, where he led workshops for teachers. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany and is an active member of EuroClio’s History and Learning Team.