Investigating Kentucky's LBGTQ Heritage: Subaltern Stories from the Bluegrass State

Catherine Fosl, Daniel Vivian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Kentucky LGBTQ Heritage Context Study illustrates the promise and challenges of early investigations into LGBTQ history in a state in which queer life has rural and urban dimensions. In 2015-16, researchers from the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at the University of Louisville partnered with an LGBTQequality organization to examine the history of LGBTQ people in Kentucky. Outcomes included the nation's first statewide LGBTQ context narrative, amendments to two National Register of Historic Places nominations, and new attention to underrecognized dimensions of LGBTQ experience. The project demonstrates the importance of existing relationships with LGBTQ communities and the difficulty of collecting archival material within the time constraints of a grant-funded project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-244
Number of pages27
JournalPublic Historian
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
the National Park Service (NPS) Underrepresented Communities Grants program. The program, new that year, directed half a million dollars toward more inclusive histories, targeting designation of historic sites associated with LGBTQ people, African Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Of thirteen grants funded in the inaugural cycle, two—Kentucky and New York—received support for LGBTQ history projects.5

Funding Information:
Catherine Fosl is a historian and a professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Louisville, where she also directs the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. Fosl held a sexuality fellowship with the Social Science Research Council in 2006, out of which her research in Kentucky LGBTQ history originated.

Funding Information:
22 For more on the ABI, see A small portion of the grant supported Jamie Beard, ABI administrative assistant. We are grateful to Jamie for her help. A secondary research partner to whom we owe thanks is the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections, which houses the Williams Nichols Collection and the university’s Oral History Center. In support of the context study, the University of Louisville’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Research waived this grant’s indirect costs, which are typically charged by universities in order to seek and manage grant dollars. Without such a waiver, our proposal would likely not have been competitive— an important consideration for universities wishing to pursue similar grants. We thank William Pierce and Judy Bristow for that support. We especially thank Brian Buford, an assistant vice provost who headed the university’s LGBT Center and helped steer our request through the appropriate channels. Marty Perry, e-mail message to Catherine Fosl, April 13, 2015.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by The Regents of the University of California and the National Council on Public History. All rights reserved.


  • Conservatism
  • Oral history
  • Partnerships
  • Rural/urban
  • Social movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • History
  • Museology


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