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Resources in LGBTQ History in the United States: 1900 to 2019 (November 2019): 1969: The Stonewall Uprising

by Lisa N. Johnston

1969: The Stonewall Uprising

The events of June/July 1969 are known by different names: The Stonewall Uprising, Riots, Rebellion, or simply Stonewall. In June 2019, The New York Times published over 200 articles, opinion pieces, reviews, photographs, and events listings that reference Stonewall. To both commemorate the event and provide readers with recently discovered interviews and other primary sources, several new and notable works have been added to the existing scholarship on this historical turning point in US history. Historian Martin Duberman’s groundbreaking 1993 Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising That Changed America uses hundreds of hours of oral history interviews with some of the “Cast,” as Duberman calls the leaders of the uprising. It has been reprinted with an epilogue by the author to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary. NYU Press added a significant work to the scholarship on the Stonewall Uprising. Marc Stein’s The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History uses ephemera, oral history, and contemporary journalism to bring together a valuable variety of experiences of the riots and their aftermath. The author adroitly explains the differences between the primary and secondary sources used in his research, listing examples of each. Stein’s work stands out because it challenges the motivation for the riots, as he prefers to name the event, and questions the mythology surrounding the people who may or may not have been at the scene. This work is sure to be controversial, and will lead to discussions on historical record and theory. Paired with Martin Duberman’s classic history of Stonewall, it is bound to inspire thoughtful discussion. The New York Public Library compiled The Stonewall Reader, consisting of primary sources from interviews to newspaper clippings. Most importantly it provides accounts of the event from activists such as Sylvia Rivera and Ernestine Eckstein, whose participation during and after Stonewall was a turning point in LGBTQ+ activism. There have been numerous exhibits at libraries and museums commemorating the fiftieth anniversary. Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era is a companion or catalog of an exhibited collection of photographs from the New York Public Library Archive’s holdings of photojournalists Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies. Text includes essays by well-known writers, such as cultural commentator and writer Roxanne Gay. More photographs and documents on LGBTQ history in New York can be accessed via the LGBT materials in the New York Public Library: Digital Collections. Columbia University Libraries Archives compiled an online collection of primary source materials from around the US for its Stonewall 50th Commemoration Collection.