OAH-NPS Project Contributes to Public Understanding and Interpretation of LGBTQ+ Histories

October 3, 2023

For almost 30 years the Organization of American Historians has partnered with the National Park Service to bring leading scholarship to bear on the presentation of history at our national parks. As part of LGBTQ+ History Month, OAH is highlighting two public history resources that expand our understanding and public presentation of LGBTQ+ histories.

“Courage to Love Gender and Sexuality in the Life of Eleanor Roosevelt” is a historic resource study, produced by OAH in collaboration with Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and the National Park Service. Written by Susan Ferentinos and published in June 2023, the study focuses on the life of Eleanor Roosevelt with special consideration to how the changing dynamics of sex and sexuality in American culture affected Roosevelt’s life and legacy. The third chapter in the study, “Eleanor Roosevelt’s Female World,” looks particularly at the romantic relationships between Roosevelt and her close female friends. 

“The OAH is proud to have developed this historic resource study in partnership with Eleanor Roosevelt National Historical Park and Dr. Susan Ferentinos, a leader in the field of interpreting LGBTQ history,” said Dr. Paul Zwirecki, Director of Public History Programs at OAH. “Dr. Ferentino’s analysis of the same-sex romances and life partnerships of the women in Eleanor Roosevelt’s orbit at Val-Kill is an important contribution to our understanding of her extraordinary life.”

In 2016, NPS published a National Historical Landmarks Theme Study dedicated to the history of LGBTQ+ life in America. LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History includes a variety of essays on the preservation of LGBTQ+ history, lifting marginalized voices, and focusing on various themes such as art, health, and sport. In all, the theme study features 32 chapters written by experts in the field, and is an exceptional resource for those interested in LGBTQ+ history and the public history preservation of significant places in these histories.

About the OAH-NPS Collaboration

Through the OAH-NPS collaboration, OAH members have opportunities to undertake sponsored research projects, many of which allow for student engagement during the process and lead to avenues for publication upon completion. The wide range of OAH-NPS projects include scholars’ visits to national park sites, administrative histories, historic resource studies, national landmarks theme studies, peer review of interpretive material, curriculum development, and conferences and seminars. Through these projects, members can pursue their scholarly interests while also enriching the stories of our national parks.