This report from the field examines the interpretation of two notable queer women from Columbus, Georgia: blues musician Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (1886–1939) and Southern Gothic author Carson McCullers (1917–1967). Although these women maintained complicated relationships with their hometown, the Columbus Museum is utilizing new ways to examine their sexuality in the context of their cultural contributions. Nuanced interpretation of Rainey’s and McCullers’s bisexuality offers opportunities to discuss connections between sexuality, gender, race, and economic realities. In presenting the museum’s efforts to interpret these fascinating personalities through exhibitions and permanent collection artifacts, this article offers ideas, strategies, and questions for public historians to consider in their own practice.

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