Sexuality Research Guide

The goal of the online Sexuality Research Guide is to give tips about how to approach a range of questions and research topics on sexuality and to clarify when and how Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection may be of use to you. It provides answers to many frequently asked questions.

Table of Contents

There are 6 sections to the Sexuality Research Guide:

Within the sections there are 21 questions. These are listed below.

Finding Quick Answers to Basic Questions

1. Where does the Rainbow flag come from?
2. Where can I find basic information online about sexual politics and sexual communities?

Getting Started with Research in General

3. How do I write a research essay? What does a research project look like?

Go directly to the "Seven Steps of the Research Process," a concise overview of the research process.

Consult Library Tutorials, Skill Guides, and Subject Bibliographies.

4. How do I begin doing research on my topic? Where do archives and rare books fit in?
5. What are primary sources?
6. What’s in an archive, generally? What do archives and archivists do?
7. What are rare books?
8. How do I work with primary sources?
9. How do I write about history?
10. How much time is this going to take me? Can I do this research quickly?

Studying Human Sexuality

11. Is studying sexuality something new?

Finding and Using Secondary Sources on Sexuality and Gay and Lesbian History

12. Where is a good place to start reading about the history and politics of sexuality?
13. How do you find sexuality sources in online catalogs or card catalogs?
Click here to go directly to a list of some of the Library of Congress subject headings for books related to gay and lesbian studies. http://manta.library.colostate.edu/research/gnl/libsubh.html
14. Are there bookstores that specialize in gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered literature?
15. To read about what’s currently being published in lesbian, gay and feminist fiction and non-fiction, several online book review sites are available:
16. Where can I get further assistance in finding secondary sources on sexuality?

Finding and Using Primary Sources on Sexuality: Working in Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection (HSC)

17. What does the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell hold?
18. How do I find a specific item?
Click here to go directly to Cornell’s online catalog.
19. How do I find primary sources on sexuality beyond Cornell’s Human Sexuality Collection?

Teaching Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Studies

20. What is LGBT Studies?
21. How do I create courses on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history or literature?

Finding Quick Answers to Basic Questions

1. Where does the Rainbow flag come from?

Information on the origins and meanings of many of the symbols of the lesbian and gay liberation movement and other sexual liberation movements can be found at Lambda Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Community Services by clicking on the rainbow flag at the bottom of their home page.

2. Where can I find basic information online about sexual politics and sexual communities?

If you're browsing the Web for information about different facets of human sexuality and the history and politics of sexual and gender liberation, many national organizations can be very helpful. These organizations do extensive outreach in order to educate people and create communities. Some sites are also devoted to sharing information about the history of sexuality.

Within each subheading, the organizations are grouped simply in alphabetical order.

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Organizations

Cornell people will want to visit the Cornell LGBT Resource Center.

Click here for a brief chronology of the gay and lesbian liberation movement in the U. S. and links to other history resources provided by GLAAD.

For a more thorough look at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered history, turn to People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Trans History.

Resources about lesbian history and links to lesbian history resources can be found at the Lesbian History Project.

The Blacklist provides a list of lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgendered people of African descent.

The History Project provides a timeline, online exhibits, and other features relating to Boston's gay. lesbian. bisexual, and transgender history.

The Queer Resources Directory offers a vast collection of queer resources on legal, workplace, religious, international, family, youth, media, and other topics.

Feminist Organizations

Many of the other organizations listed at this site are also feminist.

Transgender and Transsexual Resources

Current scientific and sociological research on transgender: International Journal of Transgenderism.

Intersex Resources

Leather and BDSM Communities and Education (Pansexual: i.e. inclusive of all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality)

Sexual Liberation and Exploration (Pansexual)

Nudist and Naturalism

Sexuality Education

HIV/AIDS Resources

Reproductive Rights, Health, and Sexuality

Deaf Community Resources

Violence Issues

For further resources on sexuality, we would recommend:

...and Dr. Ruth takes questions online!

A final suggestion: local reference librarians.

If you're looking for a specific fact or for some general guidance on a sexuality-related topic, it may be helpful to go talk with a reference librarian at your local public or research library. Reference librarians are trained to help you find appropriate encyclopedia articles, book reviews, bibliographies, and other standard sources for starting a research project. They can also help you find and learn how to use electronic sources on your subject.

For members of the Cornell community, you may also email a reference request to rareref@cornell.edu.

Getting Started with Research in General

3. How do I write a research essay? What does a research project look like?

If you're just starting out doing academic writing, you might want to consult Modern Language Association Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Uris Ref Z 253 M68 1984) or Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Uris Ref PE 1478 T92 1987). These handbooks are available at your local library, or can be purchased at many bookstores.

Also consider The Modern Researcher by Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff (Mann, Olin, ILR Ref D13 .B29 1992). Though it fails to employ gender-neutral language (in all 5 editions), this work offers useful insight on how to approach both research and writing. Just be warned: the modern researcher, the historian, the librarian, and everyone else in the book are male!

There are several guides to writing with bias-free language, including: Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing by Marily Schwartz and the Task Force on Bias-Free Language of the Association of American University Presses (Olin Ref PE 1460 .S38 1995, also in Uris and Law).

For a handy, concise overview of the research process, click here to consult the "Seven Steps of the Research Process."

For additional online help, click here to consult the Library Tutorials and Skills Guides available at the Olin/Kroch/Uris Libraries reference site.

You can also find assistance with library research at the "Help" button on the Cornell Library Gateway.

4. How do I begin doing research on my topic? Where do archives and rare books fit in?

Without a clear context, looking through manuscript collections can be confusing. It can be difficult to see how persons, places, and events fit together or how any of it relates to broad topics. And while a library's catalogs and finding aids are made to help researchers locate materials, it is up to the researcher to develop her or his own understanding of what's going on and what it means.

Start with scholarly secondary sources before you begin working in an archive or rare book room. (Cornell's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections combines archival sources and rare books in one location.) Important secondary sources might include encyclopedia articles, dictionaries, journal articles, and books. Other scholars will provide a useful foundation for your own research. Taking a class is another good way to obtain the needed background on a subject. Once you have a concrete idea of your topic; the people, places, and dates involved; the scholarship on your topic; and your specific questions or hypotheses, you are prepared to seek and use primary sources efficiently.

Consider consulting primary sources when you are at step 6 of the"Seven Steps of the Research Process."

Click here to consult the Library Tutorials and Skills Guides available at the Olin/Kroch/Uris Libraries reference site.

You can also find assistance with library research at the "Help" button on the Cornell Library Gateway.

Further reading on integrating primary sources into research projects:

  • Research and the Manuscript Tradition, by Frank G. Burke. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press; and Chicago: the Society of American Archivists, 1997. (Olin CD 3021 .B87x 1997)
  • Researcher's Guide to Archives and Regional History Sources, edited by John C. Larsen. Hamden, Conn.: Library Professional Publications, 1988. (Annex CD3021 .R43)
  • Teaching Bibliographic Skills in History: A Sourcebook for Historians and Librarians, edited by Charles A. D'Aniello. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. Trudy Peterson’s chapter (pp. 265-292) offers many basic tips for researchers. (Olin Ref Z 6201 .A2 T25, ILR Lib. Z675.H5 T25)

5. What are primary sources?

When researchers distinguish between primary and secondary sources, they're usually referring to the status of a particular piece of evidence being used to support an argument. Calling an item a "primary source" does not mean that the perspective presented by it is automatically true or accurate; rather, a "primary source" is an item that is a source of information about an event, institution, or person and that was also part of the very event, institution, or life being studied.

For instance, personal letters, office memos, minutes of a meeting, scrapbooks and photo albums, legal documents, budget and planning documents, and home movies are often reflections of actual moments in people's lives or of an organization's activities for a day. Such documents were created to serve some other purpose than communicating with a researcher. Frequently, primary sources are unpublished and from a person's own voice.

Published works can also be used as primary sources, since what counts as a primary source is also determined by what questions you're asking. If you're examining the subjective experience of AIDS, for example, the personal letters of persons with AIDS would count as primary sources. If you were examining the media coverage of AIDS, however, published news articles which discussed AIDS would count as primary sources.

As another example, if you're examining the experience of creating early gay community organizations, the personal letters of gay community organizers would be an important primary source. If you were examining how those gay organizations worked in the public arena, however, published press releases, newsletters, and legislative reports would count as primary sources.

In contrast to primary sources, secondary sources are interpretations that come out of an analysis of patterns and differences that appear in primary sources and their contexts. The author of a secondary source is usually focusing on a topic and intending to communicate with researchers. A secondary source will use primary sources as its foundation and examine those primary sources in order to find meaningful relationships among the different perspectives and understandings found in those primary documents.

In essence, primary sources are the basic materials from which history is written.

Proceed to question 8 and question 9 for a discussion of how you can work with primary sources.

6. What's in an archive, generally? What do archives and archivists do?

The following excerpts from "A Practical Guide for Researchers" published by the National Archives of Canada highlight what is distinctive about archives:

Archives and Libraries: The Fundamental Difference

"The many differences between archives and libraries can be traced to one central and all-encompassing fact: the nature of the material collected by archives is fundamentally different from that found in libraries. Libraries collect published material, also known as secondary sources. The holdings of one library may be duplicated in whole or in part by the holdings of another. If a book is lost or stolen it probably can be replaced. Archives collect original unpublished material or primary sources."

The Language and Customs of Archives

"Archives are concerned with collections - groupings of related material usually, but not necessarily - which are created by one person or organization. Since archives collect any medium that records information, the format of collections may be diverse and may include letters and diaries, photographs, maps, architectural drawings, computer tape, video and audio cassettes. The size of a collection may range from a single document to hundreds or even thousands of metres of material.

"Archivists distinguish between record groups and manuscript groups. A record group would include the various media created as part of its activities by a business, government or other institution. A manuscript group refers to the papers of an individual or private agency....

"The work of arranging archival materials is based on two principles: provenance and respect for original order. The principle of provenance requires that the archives of an organization or person not be mixed or combined with the archives of another. For example, if an archives holds the records of two theatre companies it would not consolidate the records even though both are involved in the same artistic endeavour and both create similar records... The principle of original order requires that archives preserve or recreate the order in which documents were created, maintained and/or used by the creator or office of origin. If, for example, the administrative office of a religious denomination maintained files alphabetically by name of congregation, that order would be maintained or, if necessary, reconstructed by the archives." -- from "A Practical Guide for Researchers." National Archives of Canada. © Public Works & Government Services, Canada (1995)

The Purpose of Archives

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) notes that:

"[Archival] records are used daily in the valuable research done on behalf of scientific, medical, cultural, scholarly, legal, and even commercial interests... Crucial information resides in contracts, minutes of meetings, maps, diaries, account ledgers, and artworks--for example, court transcripts may explain aspects of our social relationships as well as legal ones, or a tapestry may illustrate an event otherwise unknown. For these reasons, archives are vital to maintain the specific detailed information that would otherwise disappear or be forgotten.

"[A]rchivists are able to help us forge a better and more useful individual and collective memory. To tell the story of our lives and those of our ancestors in a full, truthful, and unbiased manner, we need to not only ask What did we do? and How did we do it?, but also Why did we do it? and What were our thoughts and motivation as we did it."--from The SAA Description and Brief History (July 1999)

In many institutions, archives and rare books are in separate departments, but at Cornell University, they are found together in our Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

7. What are rare books?

Rare book collections contain books, periodicals, broadsides, and pamphlets that are already scarce or that are likely to become scarce. Sometimes they are scarce because of their age, or because a limited number were printed. Sometimes they are scarce because they were printed as somewhat disposable products (e.g., cheap paperbacks) or their content is not scholarly enough for them to be purchased and preserved by research libraries for their circulating collections.

Sometimes a book will be found in both the circulating collection and the rare book room of the same library. This happens because they are collected for different purposes. Having books in circulating collections gives today's scholars the most access to them. Having them in a rare book collection helps ensure that researchers in future centuries will be able to consult them in the form that their first audiences encountered them.

Most important, books in rare book collections are principally acquired because of their value as primary sources. See Question 5: "What are primary sources?"

In many institutions, rare books and archives are in separate departments, but at Cornell University, they are found together in our Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

To explore sites of people who work with rare books and who study books as primary sources, see:

8. How do I work with primary sources?

You will need to be a detective and explorer.

While archivists and rare book librarians try to give good directions and tips, we can't be as exact in our help as AAA can be when you're planning a car trip. Going on a trip with primary sources is like going into territory where few people have walked before; we only have a few reports of what the terrain is like.

This is why you need to start with secondary sources by authors who have done some research already. You need to come into the archives and/or rare book room with some general ideas and some understanding about the context of your subject, so that you can be an organized detective in your search for primary sources. Your background research should give you some ideas of what kind of sources would be helpful to you and, also, what kind of sources may have been created.

As you start to work with primary sources, you may find the unexpected. You need to be open to changing your ideas and questions and be prepared for not finding documents that fit your thesis precisely. Also, you may have to look through hundreds of diary entries about the weather before you find the one entry about sex. Thorough work with manuscripts requires patience! The unique discoveries you will make often make it all worthwhile.

9. How do I write about history?

According to the Society of American Archivists:

"History is not what happened in the past. It is, as the word itself suggests, a story, written by subsequent generations. The veracity and accuracy of the account, however, is totally dependent upon the surviving record at hand--documents, manuscripts, letters, publications, photos, and memorabilia--from which the story must often be pieced together and reconstructed, item by item, clue by clue."

If you want to get a sense of how historians analyze and interpret primary sources, you can find student projects using primary sources to answer questions about women and social movements in the United States from 1830-1930 at this University of Binghamton site.

10. How much time is this going to take me? Can I do this research quickly?

Research using primary sources and rare documents is highly rewarding. But also keep in mind what the Lesbian Herstory Archives says: "When coming to use the Archives, whether you're browsing or investigating a specific topic, you should first familiarize yourself with the scope and range of the collection, and then identify which sources or parts of the collection are most likely to provide you with the information you are seeking. Please keep in mind that serious investigation or research into any subject is infinitely fascinating, but often very labor-intensive."

Because primary sources were not created expressly for the researcher, it inevitably takes more time to use them. There are some ways to facilitate the process.

For instance, we have created guides to many of our collections. Collection guides are designed to explain the order and make the contents of manuscript collections more accessible to the researcher. If you want to visit Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection to see a specific manuscript collection, you can request a copy of an individual collection guide ahead of time to get more details about the contents. Having the guide before your visit can make your research time on site much more efficient. To see a list of manuscript collections showing which ones have guides either in print or online, click here.

Click here for information for out-of-town visitors to Cornell's Rare and Manuscript Collections.

Click here for a general introduction to using Cornell's Rare and Manuscript Collections.

Studying Human Sexuality

11. Is studying sexuality something new?

No, in fact, if we think of Plato's meditation on the origins of gender and desire in the Symposium as part of the study of sexuality, then people have been thinking actively about sexuality for quite some time.

The modern Western study of sexuality has multiple origins. The study of sexuality as a formal intellectual discipline begins, in part, with the sexologists at the end of the nineteenth century. Paul Robinson, an historian of the study of sexuality, notes that:

"...the years from 1890 to 1910... saw a major transformation in sexual theory... against the Victorians, the modernists held that sexual experience was neither a threat to moral character nor a drain on vital energies. On the contrary, they considered it an entirely worthwhile, though often precarious human activity, whose proper management was essential to individual and social well-being. Put bluntly--and I can think of no other way of putting it--the modernists were sexual enthusiasts. At the same time they sought to broaden the range of legitimate sexual behavior--to investigate and to apologize for those apparently deviant forms of sexuality that the Victorians, with their exclusive commitment to adult genital heterosexual intercourse, had been reluctant even to recognize."

–The Modernization of Sex: Havelock Ellis, Afred Kinsey, William Masters and Virginia Johnson (New York: Harper and Row 1976, 2-3) (Olin Library HQ 18.3 .R6)

From the late nineteenth century onwards, key figures such as Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and Magnus Hirschfeld in Germany, Edward Carpenter and Havelock Ellis in England, and Katharine Bement Davis in the United States, brought to bear on the study of sexuality a new combination of philosophical ingenuity and empirical research.

Today, the study of the history of sexuality is a complex and wide-ranging field. Consider the following thesis put forth by historians John D'Emilio and Estelle Freedman:

"The history of American sexuality... is not one of progress from repression to liberation, ignorance to wisdom, or enslavement to freedom. Indeed, the poles of freedom and repression are not the organizing principles of our work. Rather we have constructed an interpretation of American sexual history that shows how, over the last three and a half centuries, the meaning, and place of sexuality in American life have changed: from a family centered, reproductive sexual system in the colonial era; to a romantic, intimate, yet conflicted sexuality in nineteenth-century marriage; to a commercialized sexuality in the modern period, when sexual relations are expected to provide personal identity and individual happiness apart from reproduction. We argue, in short, that sexuality has been continually reshaped by the changing nature of the economy, family and politics."

Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (Harper and Row, 1988: xi-xii) (Olin Library HQ 18 .U5 D38)

Also see question 20 "What is gay and lesbian studies?"

Finding and Using Secondary Sources on Sexuality and Gay and Lesbian History

12. Where is a good place to start reading about the history and politics of sexuality?

For the most part, Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection does not collect secondary sources on sexuality.

Such sources, including encyclopedia articles, dictionaries, journal articles, scholarly books, and other resources, can be found in the circulating or reference collections of the numerous libraries on the Cornell campus. If you have a Cornell library card, you can check out the items in the circulating collections. You can also find secondary sources in the Networked Resources available through the Cornell Library Gateway. Lastly, bookstores are a good source for secondary sources on sexuality.

For becoming familiar with various topics in the study of sexuality, the following are useful collections of essays and documents:

All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us are Brave: Black Women's Studies. edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith. New York: Feminist Press, 1982. (Africana Library E 185 .86 .A4x 1982)

Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.: A Documentary History, by Jonathan Ned Katz. New York: Meridian, 1992. (Olin HQ76.3.U5 K19 1992)

Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary in which is contained, in chronological order, evidence of the true and fantastical history of those persons now called lesbians and gay men ..., by Jonathan Ned Katz. New York: Harper & Row, 1983. (Olin, Uris HQ76.8.U5 K19)

Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, edited by Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. New York: Penguin, 1989. (Olin HQ76.25 .H62)

Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology. edited by Barbara Smith. New York: Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, 1983. (Olin and Uris PS508.W7 H76)

In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology, edited by Joseph Beam. Boston, Mass.: Alyson Pub., 1986. (Olin, Africana PS509.H57 I35)

Inventing Lesbian Cultures in America. edited by Ellen Lewin. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. (Olin and Uris HQ 75 .6 .U5 I56x 1996)

The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, edited by Henry Abelove, Michele Aina Barale and David M. Halperin. New York: Routledge, 1993. (Olin and Uris + HQ 76 .25 .L48x 1993)

The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults, edited by Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Kenneth M. Cohen. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Pub., 1996. (Olin, Mann HQ 76 .25 .L78 1996)

Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology, edited by Evelyn Torton Beck. Boston : Beacon Press, 1989. (Olin Library HQ75.6.U5 N58 1989)

Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality, edited by Carole S. Vance. Boston: Routledge & K. Paul, 1984. (Olin and Uris HQ29 .P72)

Powers of Desire: the Politics of Sexuality, edited by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson. New York: Monthly Review Press, c1983. (Olin and Uris HQ21 .P88)

Queer Studies : A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Anthology, edited by Brett Beemyn and Mickey Eliason. New York : New York University Press, 1996. (Olin + HQ 76 .25 .Q383x 1996)

Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History, edited by Martha Hodes. New York : New York University Press, 1999. (Olin + HQ 18 .N6 S49x 1999)

Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Cultures, by Lisa Duggan and Nan Hunter. New York: Routledge, 1995. (Olin and Uris HQ 23 .D78x 1995)

Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Difference, edited by Deborah L. Rhode. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. (Olin and Uris HQ1206 .T387)

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, editors, Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua; foreword, Toni Cade Bambara. New York: Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, 1983, c1981. (Olin and Africana Libraries PS509.F44 T44)

And the monographs listed below should also provide a good introduction to a variety of sexuality-related topics in American history:

The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, by Joan Jacobs Brumberg. New York: Random House, 1997. (Olin, Uris, Mann HQ 798 .B724x 1997)

Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community, by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy, Madeline D. Davis. New York : Routledge, 1993.

Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Women's Sport, by Susan K. Cahn. New York: Free Press; Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada; New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1994. (Olin, Uris GV 709 .C34x 1994)

Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two, by Allan Bérubé. New York: Free Press, 1990. (Olin, Uris D769.2 .B55)

Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America, by Janet Farrell Brodie. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994. (Olin, Uris HQ 766 .5 .U5 B76x 1994)

Creating GI Jane: Sexuality and Power in the Women's Army Corps during World War II, by Leisa D. Meyer. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. (Olin UA 565 .W6 M48x 1996)

Founding Mothers & Fathers : Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society, by Mary Beth Norton. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. (Olin, Uris HQ 1075 .5 .U6 N67x 1996)

Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, by George Chauncey. New York: BasicBooks, 1994. (Olin, Uris HQ 76 .2 .U52 N53x 1994 )

Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, by John D'Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. (Olin and Uris HQ 18 .U5 D38)

Lesbian and Bisexual Identities: Constructing Communities, Constructing Selves, by Kristin G. Esterberg. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997. (Olin, Uris HQ 75 .5 .E85x 1997

The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York, by Patricia Cline Cohen. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. (Olin, Uris HQ 146 .N7 C65x 1998)

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, by Lillian Faderman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. (Olin, Uris HQ75.6.U5 F33x 1991)

Sex Seen: The Emergence of Modern Sexuality in America, by Sharon R. Ullman. Berkeley, Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 1997. (Olin, Law HQ 18 .U5 U44x 1997)

Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970, by John D'Emilio. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. (Olin, Uris and Kroch HQ76.8.U5 D38 1983)

Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul, by Leslie Feinberg. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. (Olin, Uris + HQ 77 .9 .F45x 1996)

Transmen and FTMs: Identities, Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities, by Jason Cromwell. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois, 1999. (Olin HQ 77 .9 .C76x 1999)

What is Marriage For? by E.J. Graff. Boston: Beacon, 1999. (Olin ARU0833)

When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973, by Leslie J. Reagan. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1997. (Olin, Uris HQ 767 .5 .U5 R378x 1997)

Links to more extensive research guides and bibliographies in the field of Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Studies can be found at Library Q.

SIECUS (The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) provides a series of annotated bibliographies on a range of sexuality-related topics.

13. How do you find sexuality sources in online catalogs or card catalogs?

While the study of gender and sexuality is constantly evolving, the standardized Library of Congress system of subject headings often lags behind what might be the most current or obvious subject term.

You need to be flexible in how you go about searching for relevant secondary sources on sexuality. Keep in mind a wide range of possible search terms in the course of your search. Examine carefully what specific subject headings come up in both older and newer books on your topic.

Key word searches allow you to search for terms in contemporary usage. If a particular term appears in the title or other parts of the library record, the key word search will find the item. However, key word searches will also miss many books on the same subject--all those that don't happen to have your key word in their title or other fields.

A good strategy for a comprehensive search is to use key word searching to find some books on your particular subject; then look at their records to see what standard subject headings were applied to the item; and follow up with a subject search on those terms. The advantage of subject searching is a more comprehensive search result due to the fact that librarians work hard to determine the main topics and then to assign the correct standardized terms to each item they catalog.

The Colorado State University Libraries has provided a list of some of the Library of Congress subject headings for looking up books related to gay and lesbian studies.

For some specific tips on searching for transgender books, see Finding Transgender & Intersex In the Library.

14. Are there bookstores that specialize in gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered literature?

Yes, many. In the last few decades, there has been an enormous growth in published literature written by and about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons. Many excellent bookstores specialize in gay and lesbian literature.

Getting Hold of Published Books and Periodicals

Bookstores (most have mail order services)

Ithaca Bookstores

Publishers

Resources

15. To read about what's currently being published in lesbian, gay and feminist fiction and non-fiction, several online book review sites are available:

Other good review periodicals include The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review (Olin Library Oversize + HQ75. H33) and The Women's Review of Books (Olin Library Oversize ++ Z7961. W86). Both are available in many bookstores, also.

16. Where can I get further assistance in finding secondary sources on sexuality?

If you are looking for a specific fact or for some general guidance on a sexuality-related topic, it may be helpful to go talk with a reference librarian at your local public or research library. Reference librarians are trained to help you find appropriate encyclopedia articles, book reviews, bibliographies, and other standard sources for starting a research project. They can also help you find and learn how to use electronic sources on your subject.

For members of the Cornell community, you may also email a reference request to rareref@cornell.edu.

Finding and Using Primary Sources: Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection and Beyond

17. What does the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell hold?

The Human Sexuality Collection contains items that have value as primary sources in the study of sexuality. (See the definition of primary sources at question 5. For secondary sources, see questions 12-16.) Formats include manuscripts, rare books and periodicals, and audio-visual material.

Depending on your topic, you may also find primary sources in the circulating collections of Cornell's (and other) libraries. Also, microfilm sets of primary documents are available in other Cornell libraries. For a list of Women's Studies microfilm, see "Women's Lives and Politics: Microform Collections in the Cornell University Library" under "subject bibliographies" at the OKU Reference site.

The goal of the Library's efforts with the Human Sexuality Collection is to encourage the study of sexuality and sexual politics by preserving primary sources that too often are lost. Our attention goes particularly to groups that are excluded from mainstream culture. Through our collecting efforts, we seek to document historical shifts in the social construction of sexuality, primarily in American history from the 19th century onward. We focus on lesbian and gay history and the politics of pornography, both at the national level. Books date mostly from the mid-1800s on; manuscripts and periodicals date mostly from the 1950s on; and audio-visual materials date mostly from the 1970s on. The core of the collection came from the Mariposa Education and Research Foundation.

We would particularly like to add more sources on lesbian, gay, and bisexual lives before the 1970s, transgendered people's lives and activism, current lbgt families, the activism of lbgt people of color, national lbgt politics and the impact of AIDS on lbgt communities, feminist views of pornography, sexuality and censorship, and changing views of weddings and marriage.

For more information about the history, mission, and content of the HSC, please return to the HSC home page.

Below are links to information about and listings of segments of the HSC:

18. How do I find a specific item?

Your background research may make you aware of a specific book title, person's papers, or kind of record you hope to find in Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection. To see if we do have the sources you seek, try these suggestions:

  • If you are looking for a specific book, periodical, or manuscript collection, try searching Cornell's online catalog. There you will find basic descriptions of almost everything in the Human Sexuality Collection, including links to more detailed guides for certain manuscript collections. To limit a key word search to manuscript collections, add "u.fmt." to the search. When looking at manuscript records in the Cornell online catalog, type "long" to see the most complete descriptions of the records. For tips on searching the online catalog for sexuality topics, see question 13.
  • For further advice on searching the online catalog and other finding aids for items held in Rare and Manuscript Collections, click here.
  • Items in our backlog may be found by consulting the HSC guide in our reference room. For people who can visit us, this HSC guide is a good way to browse through descriptions of all our holdings.
  • Also, feel free to visit the reference desk in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections and talk to a reference librarian for help. You can also email or call 607-255-3530 to talk to our reference librarians.
  • Some published items can be found in other units of the Cornell University Library system. Those items may circulate (you can check them out if you have a Cornell library card). For items published before 1974, you should also search the card catalog.

19. How do I find primary sources on sexuality beyond Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection?

Items in Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection were acquired principally because of their significance to the study of sexuality, but they may also be relevant to other subjects of inquiry. Likewise, items throughout the rest of the Rare and Manuscript Collections that were collected for other reasons may have relevance to the study of sexuality. Many family and individual papers contain primary source material on heterosexuality, including dating, spouse selection, marriage, and other topics. For more about this, see "Sexuality and Gender Studies."

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is another extensive collection of primary sources on various aspects of sexuality.

For lesbian or gay topics, browse Lavender Legacies, to see if another archive may have primary sources relevant to your topic. Lavender Legacies is an index of U.S. and Canadian archives compiled by the Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists.

Also, resources about lesbian history and links to other lesbian history resources can be found at the Lesbian History Project.

In addition, reference librarians can assist you in searching for further archival and rare book repositories than may contain materials valuable to your research.

Teaching Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Studies

20. What is LGBT Studies?

At Cornell, "the field of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay Studies is devoted to the study of sexuality and its importance to the organization of social relations more generally. Primary among its concerns is also the study of lives, the politics, and the creative work of sexual minorities. LBG Studies is founded on the premise that the social organization of sexuality is best studied from the perspectives offered by those positions that have been excluded from established social and cultural norms and best approached from an interdisciplinary perspective.

"Central to the curriculum in Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay Studies are such overarching principles as the following:

"...that the study of sexuality must include a study of the dynamics of sexual oppression

"...that definitions of sexuality-including those that privilege exclusive heterosexuality-are not immutable, universal, or beyond question, but instead vary across time and place, serve political ends, and have ideological underpinnings

"...that systems of sexual oppression interact with other social inequities, including those of gender, class, race, ethnicity, age, religion, and physical ability

"...that even the most current knowledge derived from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences is not as impartial, objective, or neutral as has traditionally been thought, but instead emerges out of particular historical and political contexts."

---From the home page of the Program in Lesbian Bisexual and Gay Studies at Cornell University (July 1999).

21. How do I create courses on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history or literature?

It's possible to teach gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender-related courses from a wide range of perspectives and disciplines, including literature, political science, sociology, health and history. In the last few decades, a large body of scholarly work has been written by and about gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons, across the disciplines. The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at the City University of New York has archived a number of useful syllabi to help develop courses in GLBT studies.

Click here for Cornell courses.

If you are at or close to Cornell and interested in working with a Cornell archivist or librarian to introduce your students to primary research materials in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Studies and the history of sexuality, click here.

For assistance on developing classes and workshops for sexuality education, you can turn to: