Skip to Main Content

LGBTQ+ History Research at the Archives & Library of the Ohio History Connection

Contact Us

Contact the Archives & Library

Archives & Library 
Ohio History Connection 
800 East 17th Avenue 
Columbus, OH 43211 

Phone: 614.297.2510 
FAX: 614.297.2546 

Share Your Discoveries!

Have you found a collection that we haven't labeled as LGBTQ+ in our catalog, but maybe we should have? Please let us know! You can contact us at

Rainbow Banners at the Ohio Statehouse, 1995. Stonewall Union Records, MSS 1150 AV

Many of the historical LGBTQ+ collections at the Ohio History Connection are part of the Gay Ohio History Initiative (GOHI). GOHI is a special initiative of the Ohio History Connection that collects, preserves, and shares the history of LGBTQ+ Ohioans. The GOHI collections include organizational records, photographs, personal papers, publications, museum objects and oral history recordings that tell the stories of individuals and the broader LGBTQ+ community in their own words. For more information, visit the GOHI website.

Researchers are encouraged to search the Archives and Printed Materials catalogs and Ohio Memory for more materials related to the LGBTQ+ community in Ohio. 

Research Tips

Getting Started: If you're just starting out with your research, check out our Archives & Library guide. It will introduce you to our collections and procedures.
Our Archives: Many of our archival collections that we have interpreted as LGBTQ+-related have been tagged with "Gay Ohio History Initiative (GOHI)." Click here to view the items associated with that tag.
Our Oral Histories: Our recent oral histories are all available online. View them here. 
Our Blog: We often document LGBTQ+ collections on our blog. Read it here!
Single-Gender Institutions: You can also consider researching the records of institutions and professions that often create single gender environments, such as schools, prisons, or the military.
Criminal Records: LGBTQ+ ancestors may appear in criminal records in which their sexuality or gender is criminalized. Consider making yourself familiar with the general history of this legal code and the relevant words before diving into the primary source records.

Advice on Making Inferences

Identity is a tricky and personal thing. It is always best to define a person in the way that they define themselves, past or present. But LGBTQ+ history can present some problems. Many historical figures have had their identities left out of the historic record. LGBTQ+ ancestors did not conceptualize of gender and sexuality in the same way as we do, or with the same words -- but we have to use words we understand to write about them. 

If we let these problems stop us, a large number of LGBTQ+ folks will be missing from our research. When you are ready to write about what you have found, here are a few ideas on how to make inferences in a respectful and informed way.

  • Tell us what evidence led to your decision to assign this identity. Is it from the individual's actions? Their relationship status? The way they speak about themselves? 
  • Use clarifying language. You may consider including sentences that honor a historic figure's agency, such as "[Name] did not identify themselves as [identity] in any available primary source records, however based on [your evidence] I believe that we would assign the term [identity] to this person today." Be clear if this identity is being expressed with a word that came into popular lexicon after the person died.
  • Once you offer your explanation, assume that your inference is correct and do not dwell on it. Continued explanation can create the feeling that assigning an individual an LGBTQ+ identity is a poor mark on their record.
  • Write about a person using the name and pronouns they used for themselves at the end of their life. 
  • If you are working with a figure whom you believe held an identity that is not your own, we highly suggest consulting with someone who does hold that identity. Depending on your relationship, you may consider paying the consultant for their time.

See also: Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites by Susan Ferentinos and "Queer Possibility" by Margaret Middleton

Know of a resource we should include here? Email us at!