I wanted to center my mapping project around the three historically marked LGBTQ+ sites in Philadelphia, and present their histories through other sites either in the city or around the country to which their histories connect. These three historically marked LGBT sites are the markers for Barbara Gittings, a well-known gay rights pioneer, the Annual Reminder demonstrations, which took place on July 4 between 1965-1969 and are revered as one of the few well-documented gay rights demonstrations prior to Stonewall in 1969, and Giovanni’s Room, one of the first gay book stores in the United States which first opened in 1973. I chose these sites because they are the only commemorated LGBT sites in the city, and because they have interesting stories that lend themselves to a spatial presentation. Each site has a different number of related spaces, and by color-coding to show which sites are related, one can exhibit how influential and important these sites are, both in Philadelphia’s history, and in the larger, national LGBT history. For example, Barbara Gittings was a leading figure in the Gay Rights movement and delivered speeches and made appearances at protests in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, New York City, Dallas, Texas, San Francisco, California, and elsewhere. For this map, and on the second layer, I only included the speeches in Harrisburg and Dallas, but by placing these on a map one quickly gains an understanding for just how visible and influential a figure Barbara Gittings was. Similarly, Giovanni’s Room was in two different locations before being able to settle at 12th and Pine where it remains today. By showing its other locations one can interrogate why the owners moved the store where they did while also grappling with why they had to move in the first place. Was it discriminatory landlords or expired leases? Did they choose new locations by affordability? Or were they seeking a visible location that the greatest number of LGBT Philadelphians could find? Placing these spaces on a map opens new lines of inquiry by aiding one in visualizing historical movement. I would be curious to examine the boundaries of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood historically to see whether they were relatively static or fluctuating, and then see how that might have influenced the movements of stores like Giovanni’s Room.
For my digital history project I will be creating a multi-layered map indicating 1) the three LGBT heritage sites with state historical markers, 2) sites, either in Philadelphia or around the country, connected to any of these three sites, and 3) sites of noteworthy historical relevance to Philadelphia’s LGBT history. In addition to placing markers on these sites, I will include brief histories, related images, and coordinates. The point of this assignment is three-fold: show what has been commemorated in Philadelphia, mark other sites relevant to these spatially, and provide an impression of the vast histories that have yet to be told through either preservation or commemoration through state historical markers..
For my project, I will be using Google Maps. Google Maps is one of the most user-friendly mapping tools available to people for their first mapping projects, and, because it affords users the option of creating layered maps, Google Maps lends itself very well to mapping projects like mine that utilize layers. My goal is to create a three layered map with the first layer exhibiting the three historically marked LGBT sites in Philadelphia, the second showing the sites tied to the broader histories of the former sites, and third a number of the countless other LGBT historic sites in Philadelphia whose stories have yet to be preserved in any way. Also useful in Google Maps is one’s ability to use different colors for different markers. The three markers already in place have different stories, and to be able to differentiate them, their connected sites, and other unrepresented sites by color would improve the final product's utility for viewers.
LGBT history in Philadelphia as told through space is a subject worth exploring through digital tools because it is a subject barely engaged with, whether by academic historians or digital humanists. This tool enables me to present to others the vastly under-preserved history of LGBT Philadelphia by showing what has been marked, and everything that has not. This tool allows me to make an argument visually. It also opens up avenues of inquiry as to why so few spaces have been commemorated or preserved, and why those that have may have been selected. By using Google Maps, a widely-used tool, I am able to bring this research to a far broader audience than I could with a less well-known tool like Carto. Exploring this subject through digital-spatial methods allows me to clearly visualize the relationships between spaces, and visualize the historical discrepancies between what has and has not been preserved, and even begin to analyze the differences in their locations. Where in the city are the three sites with markers as opposed to the many sites are not yet preserved or marked? This enables later, more in-depth analyses through urban history, not just preservationist history. This tool and project would utilize Public History best practices in that it would be easily accessible through Google Maps, it would allow viewers to visit these sites themselves, it would raise awareness for the need to preserve LGBT historic sites in Philadelphia, and it would educate the public about their city’s underrepresented LGBT history in a digital and nontraditional format.
The intended audience is the broadest audience possible, including the Digital History community, but also the average LGBT-Philadelphian curious about the history all around them that represents people like them. Philadelphia has a rich LGBT history, and although local historical professionals are beginning to tap into that base, there is more to be done professionally to document that history and present it via easily accessible digital media.
For my data visualization, I used the tool Timeline.JS, an online tool which bases the timeline and its content off a Google Sheets template. The template contains headers instructing the user where to input specific information needed for structuring each slide on the final timeline. For example, the headings furthest left-hand on the template instruct the user to input numerical entries in three columns indicating the year, month, and date of whatever content goes in that slide. The user can also include a start time, end date, and end time. The user subsequently fills in fields providing a title, description, various media, and their sources. For media, the user can include a hyperlink to a Google Map, a website hosted image, or upload an image directly. For my own timeline, I tried multiple times unsuccessfully to directly upload a specific image. Instead, I uploaded the image to my in-progress Omeka database for a later assignment, and I then hyperlinked to that image there. Granted, because my Omeka site is not yet public, it remains hit-or-miss whether or not the image stays on the timeline.
To explain my choice in content, I am currently researching, gay and lesbian political
activism in Philly between 1965 and 1982, and so for this timeline I chose a few key points within that history. Given its brevity, this timeline obviously glosses over the depth of history one could find within those seventeen years. Nevertheless, I chose what I felt to be five pivotal events in that timespan. I chose the Annual Reminders which took place between 1965 and 1969 because they were Philadelphia’s first major gay and lesbian political protests. I then chose Philadelphia’s first Pride Parade because I had access to evidence exhibiting the conflict behind its realization, and because Pride Parades were still very new in 1972. Lastly, I chose the events surrounding Bill 1275 which intended to include lesbians and gay men in Philadelphia’s Civil Rights Code. The Bill failed in 1975 but in 1982 a similar Bill passed in City Hall with only two opposing votes. For all of these I included dates, images or maps, historical text, media credit and captions, all to provide the most informative timeline. I also altered backgrounds to enhance aesthetics.
Despite the difficulty I encountered uploading an image to the template, I found Timeline.JS incredibly user-friendly. When finished, one can click through their slides filled with text, images, maps, or videos, credits, dates, and more. Thanks to the design, viewers can easily engage with the timeline without feeling overwhelmed by the information. Because the timeline acts like a slide show, one can click through and witness the historical transition and change exhibited over time. This is why I chose this tool; I wanted to showcase changes in Philadelphia’s gay and lesbian activism between 1965 and 1982, particularly through conflicts and their resolutions, as was seen with the first Pride Parade. Timelines are well-suited for projects like this, seeking to exhibit change over time, and by finding and incorporating images and maps to better engage a viewer I found Timeline.JS to be an excellent option.