Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles:
A History of LGBTQ Life at the University of Chicago
In 2012, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality launched Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles, a project documenting LGBTQ life at the University of Chicago from the early twentieth century through the present day. By collecting oral history interviews with LGBTQ alumni, faculty, and staff, and mining local and national archives, students and faculty involved with this initiative will build on the Center's highly successful project 'On Equal Terms': Educating Women at the University of Chicago, which ran from 2004-09 and culminated in a popular campus exhibition and 48-page publication.
Based on this previous research into women's experience at the University, CSGS students and faculty identified a pressing need to capture the history and experience of LGBTQ individuals and communities at the University of Chicago. The current three-year project will culminate in a permanent oral history archive that can be accessed by future generations of researchers and community members, to be housed in Special Collections Research Center at Regenstein Library. Oral history narrators are also donating personal papers, organizational records, photographs, and digital files as part of the archive.
The Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles project contributes to building community and expertise around the history of sexuality across disciplines by providing undergraduate and graduate students at the University space for new research and intergenerational mentorship. The project has brought scholars of LGBT history working in universities and archives across the United States to campus for public lectures and student/faculty workshops.
The project also offers a yearly undergraduate course designed to explore LGBTQ history. In 2012, History PhD candidate and CSGS fellow Monica L. Mercado developed and taught "Queer on the Quads," a seminar that served as an introduction to the practice of oral history. In Spring 2013, History PhD candidate Lauren Stokes developed and taught "Sexuality and the Production of History," a seminar that served as an introduction to archival research in gender and sexuality. A third course, "Sex and Sexualities in Modern U.S. History," in Autumn 2013 will offer students a chance to look back at over 100 years of American history to chart the changing social organization and cultural meaning of sexual practices and desires.
Archival finds are highlighted on our project Tumblr: uchicagolgbtqhistoryproject.tumblr.com
See a recent article in The Core, the College magazine of the University of Chicago, on the project's first undergraduate course Queer on the Quads: Uncovering LGBTQ History at the University of Chicago. And visit the Oxford University Press blog for an article on the project.
- Volunteer for an interview
- Lend or donate your materials to the exhibition project
- Give to the Project
To get involved with the project, please contact Project Coordinators Monica Mercado and Lauren Stokes at 773.702.7682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions about giving to the project, please contact Project Director and CSGS Associate Director Gina Olson at 773.834.8831 or email@example.com