This essay examines the interpretation of the lives and work of two queer men, Robert Neal and Edgar Hellum, at the Pendarvis Historic Site in the small town of Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Using this interpretation as a case study, the essay addresses how public historians might more fully incorporate the history of sexuality into historic site interpretative models. It suggests a number of strategies for helping visitors think critically about the history of sexuality and how our current understandings of sexual identity are not always useful or accurate ways of thinking about queer pasts.
Queer Public History in Small-Town Wisconsin: The Pendarvis Historic Site and Interpreting the Queer Past
Christopher Hommerding recently received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Program in Gender and Women’s History. His dissertation, The Pixies of Pendarvis, examines the way two men in small-town Wisconsin leveraged their queerness to build a nationally renowned restaurant and turn the small town of Mineral Point, Wisconsin into a destination for tourists, artists, and historic architecture buffs. He currently works as a public historian for a private firm in Minneapolis.
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Christopher Hommerding; Queer Public History in Small-Town Wisconsin: The Pendarvis Historic Site and Interpreting the Queer Past. The Public Historian 1 May 2019; 41 (2): 70–93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2019.41.2.70
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