LGBTQ History

Sepia toned photograph of a young man in profile
Harry Dana, 1928

NPS Photo / H.W.L. Dana Papers

We, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people (LGBTQ), all the subdivisions of the sexual and gender minority community, exist in America. The places we remember and hold dear, those places that have become part of our identity, also exist. Still. Many of them.

-Mark Menke, "Why LGBTQ Historic Sites Matter," from LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History (National Park Service)

LGBTQ+ history is a key piece of the broader history of Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters. Join us in exploring the queer past, and the resonance of these stories today. The site's archival collections allow us to trace three generations of queer Longfellows within the home.

Harry Dana, the grandson of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, preserved many of his families’ important documents — as well as his own. As a gay man and a public figure in his own right, Harry Dana was preserving queer history and creating it at the same time.

The site's archives hold the rich family history that Harry Dana worked to preserve. The personal papers of Longfellow family members held in the archives give insight into the intimate relationships of Samuel Longfellow (1819-1892), Alice Longfellow (1850-1928), and Harry Dana (1881-1950).

As America’s storytellers, the National Park Service is committed to telling the history of all Americans in all of its diversity and complexity. For many years, the rich histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans have been erased through punishing laws and general prejudice—appearing sporadically in police proceedings, medical reports, military hearings, and immigration records. (NPS LGBTQ Heritage)

Through the lens of these family members, we can gain insight into the experiences of LGBTQ people throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. These periods saw major changes in cultural attitudes towards intimate relationships between people of the same gender, as well as the shift from queerness being perceived as a behavior to becoming an actual identity.

This page features a growing collection of stories that have emerged from this archival research.

 
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    Last updated: September 5, 2022

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