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OutHistory logo
Screenshot of OutHistory.org homepage
Screenshot of OutHistory.org homepage
Available inEnglish
OwnerUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Created byJonathan Ned Katz
Alexa rankPositive decrease 4,238,020 (April 2014)[1]
Current statusOnline

OutHistory is a website about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and heterosexual history, and, more generally, gender and sexual history. OutHistory comprises elements of an almanac, archive, article, bibliography, book, encyclopedia, library, and museum.

OutHistory.org was produced in its first four years by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), located at the City University of New York Graduate Center.[2] In August 2012, the site moved its institutional home to the University of Illinois at Chicago, under the direction of John D'Emilio.[citation needed]

The site was founded and is co-directed by Jonathan Ned Katz. The site was designed originally by Cidamon, a New York-based web design and development company, using Open-source MediaWiki software. The content of OutHistory.org is provided by volunteers. While the site went live in 2004, the official launch of the current OutHistory.org took place October 21, 2008.[3]

Site Producer[edit]

OutHistory is produced by University of Illinois at Chicago, under the direction of John D'Emilio.[citation needed]

The site was previously produced by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), under the guidance of its director, James Wilson. CLAGS is an institute at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The site's Director and initiator is Jonathan Ned Katz. The site's Coordinator was Lauren Gutterman.[3]


This first prototype of OutHistory.org focused on a number of featured Exhibits on LGBTQ history in the United States, and included a variety of other content. The site's founder, Jonathan Ned Katz, dreams "that this site will eventually contain the largest, freely accessible, annotated bibliography on the subject of LGBTQ and heterosexual history".


The content of this site is collected from authors, curators, editors, researchers, collectors, and both independent and institutionally-based scholars. Inspired by Wikipedia, OutHistory.org also encourages all its users to discuss the site.


OutHistory has collaborated with other LGBTQH history sites, archives, newspapers, magazines, museum projects, and art galleries, as well as interested researchers. The site collaborates with The Windy City Times and ChicagoGayHistory.org.

OutHistory has also partnered with the Arcus Foundation to award recipients of the LGBTQ Local Histories Contest for excellent contributions to OutHistory on local history topics.[4]



OutHistory has a group of staff, mostly volunteer, overseeing fiscal and support operations.

Board of Advisors At Large[edit]

The Advisory Board's primary responsibilities are advising on the site's content, contributing, as time permits, to that content, editing content, and suggesting and encouraging contributors. The board makes macro policy decisions (for example, about what kinds of materials the site should solicit and publish, and about the overall structure of the site). Like editorial boards and boards of directors, the Advisory Board does not make executive decisions about site production, budgeting, staffing, or the day-to-day running of the site.

History of OutHistory.org[edit]

In the 1980s, while working as secretary to the contract director of a major educational publisher, Jonathan Ned Katz first learned to use a computer, and fantasized that this huge, multi-floor office was actually a "gay history factory," and that hundreds of people were researching LGBTQ history.

In 2003, a friend of Katz's, Barbara Todd Kerr, who worked as a producer at Mediapolis, a website development company, introduced him to Mediapolis founder and director Carl Pritzkat. Katz asked Pritizkat if his company would create, pro bono, a website on LGBTQ history. Prtizkat suggested the name OutHistory.org and began developing the site, to which Katz began to add content.

In 2004, while Katz was teaching at Yale University, the first version of OutHistory.org went on line, featuring a detailed, original biography of a Yale major donor, the lawyer John William Sterling and his live-in companion of 40 years, James Bloss. (That biography now appears on the present OutHistory.org.)

In 2005, a grant of $5,000 from the Zebra Fund via the Funding Exchange, facilitated by program officer Marcia Gallo through the generosity of the late Joan R. Heller and her partner, Dr. L. Diane Bernard, encouraged Katz to investigate the various commercial and non-commercial ways to go about funding a much more complex site and supporting it over time. The grant also encouraged Katz to formulate an agenda to discuss the development of the site and to call a meeting of interested people. About a dozen people, mostly archivists, met at his house on February 4, 2006. Richard Wandell, founder and director of the National Museum and Archive of Lesbian and Gay History, in New York City, ended the discussion by suggesting that Katz needed to draft a complete vision statement for the website.

Katz wrote a vision statement and submitted it to the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, then directed by Paisely Currah. The CLAGS board voted to support the project for two years if funding for it could be secured. Before the CLAGS board voted, Katz met with Urvashi Vaid, then- director of the Arcus Foundation, discussed the website proposal, and received an encouraging response. Katz drafted a proposal to Arcus and Sara Ganter, then the development director of CLAGS redrafted it and submitted it to Arcus. At the end of 2006, that foundation approved a grant of $50,000 a year for two years (2007-2008) to develop the site.

CLAGS hired a first Project CoordinatorIn for the site, James Arnette, and in June 2007 an OutHistory advisors meeting was attended by about twenty women and men. Other advisors agreed to join an email advisory committee. After investigating various website development companies CLAGS hired Cidamon.com to do that work, and the present prototype is the result. After Arnett, Lynley Wheaton was hired as Project Coordinator and in June 2008 Lauren Gutterman took over the position.

OutHistory.org officially went on line on October 21, 2008, and was celebrated at a party at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in New York City. A second OutHistory Advisors' Meeting was held on February 4, 2009, during the annual conference of the American Historical Association, in New York City.

Awards and recognition[edit]

OutHistory was awarded the 2010 Allan Berube Prize in Public History by the Committee on LGBT History of the American Historical Association.


Past Support[edit]

In 2005, a grant of $5,000 from the Zebra Fund via the Funding Exchange, through the generosity of the late Joan R. Heller and her partner, Dr. L. Diane Bernard, encouraged Jonathan Ned Katz to investigate how to go about funding and establishing a complex LGBTQ history site and supporting it over the long run.

The development of OutHistory.org by CLAGS was funded by a two-year grant (2007-2008: $50,000 a year) from the Arcus Foundation. The Arcus Foundation agreed to support OutHistory's "Since Stonewall Local Histories Contest" from March 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010, with a grant of $55,000. The Mulberry Group, Inc., contributed $1,500 in 2008.

A number of individuals have also contributed financially.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Outhistory.org Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  2. ^ Chan, Sewell (22 June 2009). "Police Records Document Start of Stonewall Uprising". New York Times - City Room. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b "LGBT History Website To Launch October 21st". WeHo News. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  4. ^ Comer, Matt (29 June 2010). "OutHistory.org awards local LGBT projects". QNotes. Retrieved 17 August 2011.