Trans History and Historicism in the Digital Age


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

During LGBTQ History Month, we are pleased to host scholars Jen Manion and KJ Rawson at AAS for a conversation about the history of gender and sexuality. Manion and Rawson will discuss the Digital Transgender Archive (DTA), an online hub for digitized historical materials, born-digital materials, and information on archival holdings throughout the world.  Based at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, the DTA is an international collaboration among dozens of colleges, universities, public libraries, private collections, and nonprofit organizations--including the American Antiquarian Society.  This program is the inaugural LGBTQ+ history event at AAS.

This hybrid program will be held in person at Antiquarian Hall and livestreamed to a virtual audience on YouTube. Advance registration is required for both. Doors open at 6:30pm. 


K.J. Rawson is Professor of English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Northeastern University, where he also directs the Humanities Center. He works at the intersections of the Digital Humanities and Rhetoric, LGBTQ+, and Feminist Studies. Focusing on archives as key sites of cultural power, he studies the rhetorical work of queer and transgender archival collections in brick-and-mortar and digital spaces. Rawson is founder and director of the Digital Transgender Archive, an award-winning collection of trans-related historical materials, and he chairs the editorial board of the Homosaurus, an LGBTQ+ linked data vocabulary. He was elected to AAS membership in April 2024.


Jen Manion (they/them) is a social and cultural historian whose work examines the role of gender and sexuality in American life. Manion is the Winkley Professor of History and Political Economy at Amherst College. Manion is author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (Penn, 2015), which received the Mary Kelley Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and Female Husbands: A Trans History  (Cambridge, 2020), which was a finalist for the Organization of American Historians's (OAH) Lawrence Levine Award for the best book in U.S. cultural history and recipient of the British Association of Victorian Studies best book prize. Manion is co-editor with Nicholas Syrett of a forthcoming two volume series, The Cambridge History of Sexuality in the United States, Vol. I: Early America and Vol. II: Modern America (expected 2025). Manion is co-editor with Jim Downs of Taking Back the Academy: History of Activism, History as Activism (2004), and has published nearly three dozen essays and reviews in U.S. histories of gender and sexuality. Manion has been actively involved in countless efforts to advance LGBTQ+ history, including the American Historical Association's committee on LGBT History; the OAH committee on the status of LGBTQ history and historians;; Queer History Conference 2019; the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; and the Gale/Cengage Learning Sexuality & Gender Archives Project.  They were elected to AAS membership in November 2020.