Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters
National Historic Site Massachusetts

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)

At Longfellow House–Washington's Headquarters, the site's LGBTQ history began long before its preservation as a historic site. There have been LGBTQ members of the Longfellow family as long as there have been Longfellows. 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 not only preserving queer history, he was 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)

These papers have allowed staff to explore the site's LGBTQ stories; this page explores the many stories that have emerged from this archival research. Queer history is a key piece of the broader history of Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters. Join us in exploring the lives of LGBTQ people, and the resonance of these stories today.

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    Last updated: June 14, 2021

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