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Margot Canaday, PhD
Princeton University (Princeton, NJ 08540-5228)
LGBT Workers in the Shadow of Civil Rights, 1945-2000

A book-length study on the employment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people in the U.S.'s late 20th-century work force.

While historians of sexuality have written extensively about working class cultures, an assumption that workplaces were "straight spaces" in which LGBT people passed has limited inquiry into the workplace itself. Yet the workplace shaped LGBT life as much as the bar or the street. Avoiding exposure/fear of job loss was a central fact of queer life for most of the 20th century. Moreover, because of a modern equivalence between work and personal identity (the job makes the person, said Marx), occupations have been central to establishing sexual identity. Workplaces, finally, are considered both arenas where norms are enforced and compulsion reigns, and a site of tolerance where diversity is nurtured. I draw on over 100 oral histories I conducted with LGBTs born in the 1930s, court cases, and business and labor records to explore these themes.

Project fields:
Gender Studies; U.S. History; Women's History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017