Wednesday, 20 February 2013

LGBT history by podcast from the National Archives

The National Archives website now hosts a series of seven podcasts on various aspects of LGBT history.

NOTE (added 10 September 2013):
These links appear not to work with Firefox, but do work with IE and Chrome.

Topics covered are:-
  • The scandalous case of John Vassall: sexuality, spying and the Civil Service - Fifty years ago civil servant John Vassall was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for espionage. Vassall was homosexual and, whilst working at the British Embassy in Moscow, was caught in a Soviet Secret Service ‘honeytrap’ and blackmailed into passing secrets to the Soviet Union, receiving payments for his efforts. This was one of a series of security scandals which rocked the Macmillan government in the early 1960s, feeding into a national obsession with spy culture at the time.
  • Digging for diamonds: hidden histories at The National Archives - From ‘parachuting’ to ‘truffle-hunting’, there are many ways to research at The National Archives. This talk focuses on the histories that are harder to find, from the voices of enslaved Africans to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities in the early 20th century, exploring the issues and problems involved, work being done to resolve them, and what still needs to be done to dig up those rare ‘diamonds’.
  • When a woman is not a woman: how the Ministry of Pensions constructed gender in the 1950s - During the 1950s, the Ministry of Pensions was suddenly faced with a substantial number of requests by individuals to change their gender status on their employment and pension records. Why was this? How did the (slightly) bewildered men at the Ministry deal with these requests? What does this have to do with fashion models like Christine Jorgensen and April Ashley, and why does this 50-year-old problem still persist in 2011?
  • Fictional obscenities: lesbianism and censorship in the early 20th century - How was the concept of obscenity governed in the absence of specific statutes that defined what was and was not obscene? To what extent was this governance an effect of the time and place in which it emerged? Drawing on early 20th century case studies, all from files in the National Archives, Dr Louise Chambers investigates these questions in relation to the banning of novels whose narratives featured same sex relations between women.
  • Genius on trial: key sources relating to Oscar Wilde at The National Archives - The arrest and subsequent imprisonment of Oscar Wilde was one of the most sensational and controversial episodes of the late Victorian era, with far-reaching social and cultural implications. This talk presents the key documents held by The National Archives on Oscar Wilde, and uses them to tell the story of the events which culminated in 1895 in his three trials and a sentence of two years’ imprisonment with hard labour.
  • George Ives: queer lives and the family - Cultural historian Matt Cook delves into the diary of George Ives, the early homosexual law reformer, and considers the issue of family, a pertinent and recurrent theme within Ives’ diary.
  • Losing Orton in the archives - The tangled history of the papers of the playwright Joe Orton is unwoven by Dr Matt Cook. Here he reveals the extraordinary sources that survive on the writer’s life, and the perhaps even more extraordinary ones that remain stubbornly missing.

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