Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites

This webinar will provide an introduction to interpreting LGBT history at museums and historic sites. We will discuss first steps in planning LGBT interpretive efforts, which include: deciding if the time is right for your organization to interpret LGBT history; approaching the sources; conceptualizing your story; and trust-building. Drawing on numerous case studies, Dr. Ferentinos will offer a range of success stories and suggest what we can learn from these examples.



Date: May 4, 2017

Time: 3pm EST/2pm Central/1pm Mountain/12pm Pacific/10am Hawaii/4pm Atlantic

Cost: $40 AASLH Members/$65 Nonmembers


About the Instructor:

Susan Ferentinos is a public history researcher, writer, and consultant, whose specialties include inclusive interpretation and project management for historical organizations. She is the author of Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), which is part of the AASLH "Interpreting History" series and was the winner of the 2016 National Council on Public History book award. She also contributed a chapter to the recently released National Park Service Theme Study in LGBTQ History and is currently working on numerous LGBTQ history projects for the park service. Find Susan at and on Twitter: @HistorySue.


AASLH's "Interpreting LGBT History" Wins 2016 NCPH Book Award

Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites (part of the AASLH Interpreting History Series) has been selected as the winner of the 2016 NCPH (National Council on Public History) Book Award for the best work published about or growing out of public history.  The award will be presented during the NCPH Annual Meeting at the NCPH Awards Breakfast, Saturday, March 19, at 8:00 am at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

About Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites (Available through Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)

Ferentinos-210x300LGBT individuals and families are increasingly visible in popular culture and local communities; their struggles for equality appear regularly in news media. If history museums and historic sites are to be inclusive and relevant, they must begin incorporating this community into their interpretation. Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites is straightforward, accessible guidebook for museum and history professionals as they embark on such worthy efforts. The book features an examination of queer history in the United States, case studies on the inclusion and telling of LGBT history, and an extensive bibliography and reading list. It complements efforts to make museums and historic sites more inclusive, so they may tell a richer story for all people.


About Author Susan Ferentinos 

Susan Ferentinos is a public history researcher, writer, and consultant based in Bloomington, Indiana, where she specializes in historical project management and using the past to create community. She has lectured widely on the topic of interpreting LGBT history and recently served on the planning team for the National Park Service Women’s History Initiative. Dr. Ferentinos holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history with a focus on the history of gender and sexuality and a Master of Library Science with a concentration in special collections, both from Indiana University. She has served on the Board of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites and the Leadership Development Committee of the American Association for State and Local History.



Timely and well-crafted, Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites is a must-read not only for professionals working with collections in museums, archives, libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions, but also for anyone in the communities they seek to engage. Ferentinos provides a convincing rationale for why LGBT history and interpretation matters, as well as a clear framework for how it can – and should – be shared. Readers will find much to consider, reference, and, perhaps more importantly, apply.

—Wesley J. Chenault, Head of Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

This groundbreaking work thoughtfully documents seminal projects in the interpretation of LGBT history and also lights a path forward for those committed to a more inclusive approach to public history.

—Bill Adair, Director of Exhibitions and Public Interpretation, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia, PA

This book has something for everyone interested in history, museums, and historic site interpretation. The historical overview should be required reading for all who think they know the history of the United States. Curators, historic site managers, archivists, and librarians, among others, will discover many ways to challenge any preconceived ideas of the lives documented and interpreted in their collections or at their sites. Equally important, they will find myriad resources to answer their questions in this well-written and provocative volume.

—Barbara J. Howe, historian and associate professor emerita, West Virginia University

978-0-7591-2372-4 • Hardback

978-0-7591-2373-1 • Paperback

978-0-7591-2374-8 • eBook

AASLH Introduces New Book Series: Interpreting History Series

This major new series from the American Association for State and Local History  and Rowman & Littlefield Publishers provides expert, in-depth guidance in interpretation for museum and historic site professionals. The books will help practitioners expand their interpretive skills and apply it to a broader range of American History.

AASLH Members Save 25% off Any Title Through December 31st! Use code 4F14MSTD at checkout.

The first books in the series are

Call Rowman & Littlefield Customer Service at 1-800-462-6420 or click on the book's page to add to cart.

Offer ends December 31, 2014.

*When ebooks are available, the discount applies.

Are We Telling the WHOLE Story?

The interpretation of historic houses for many visitors seems to be the same story, different house. Whether it be the home of a revolutionary leader, southern plantation owner, or an author of a famous book (or not so famous) the stories are often of the rich white owner, his genealogy and his Chippendale, Sheraton, or Empire furnishings. Michelle Zupan refers to this in her blog of October 31, 2013 as the “Great Man House Tour.”  It is encouraging

Royal House and Slave Quarters

that this is changing. The interpretation of a site must be complete and relevant to people today, to make a connection to people’s lives otherwise the site is what some call a “Dead House.” One exceptional example of a site that is successfully connecting contemporary topics to issues in the past is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford. One way this is achieved is through Salons at Stowe designed to inspire the audience “to move from dialogue and debate to action on current social justice issues.”


Beauport from the water

Much has been written about the efforts to discuss the whole story from woman to children to slavery in major sites such as Monticello. But even smaller sites are now telling a story that was kept hidden. In Medford, Massachusetts, The Royal House, for years told the story of merchant Isaac Royal and his son and their magnificent Georgian house ignoring that on the property stands the only remaining slave quarters in the northern United States! The site now renamed the Royal House and Slave Quarters is committed to telling the intertwined stories of wealth and bondage. More and more sites are telling the story of servants, and immigrants. But these are not the only stories, there are dozens that need to be told. A number of sites are telling LGBT stories such as at Beauport in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Historic New England is now interpreting the site as the home of a gay man. Some sites have been reticent to tell these and the other stories because they are deemed controversial but I argue that they are relevant and need to be told. Telling these stories can only help us engage audiences in the 21st century.