LGBTQ Web History Research Resources
This page collects an ongoing (and growing) list of different primary and secondary resources and texts used in developing this project. These items are primarily intended for those interested in doing early web history research, either as independent researchers or within a classroom setting. While some of these texts and archives are LGBTQ-specific, others are equally applicable to broader web history-related topics.
Each list item includes (for books) a full citation, as well as a link to either its WorldCat record or (when available) a scanned copy held in the Internet Archive. Some of these items, particularly more obscure ones, are annotated. A more frequently updated collection may be available in the Queer Web History Resources Zotero group.
Have a collection or text to suggest? Interested in using these guides? E-mail the curator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents
The archives listed here vary from those focused mostly on born-digital materials (textfiles.com) to more traditional print-based archives. Since many smaller, regional BBSs are only referenced in community publications, I've included relevant digitized newspaper archives.
- Digital Transgender Archive
- Archive of the Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco, CA)
- The Shareware CD Collection / Shareware CD Collection at Textfiles.com
While most shareware discs were focused on software or games, some did contain sizable document dumps, including a variety of BBS lists.
- Archive of scanned copies of BBS Magazine
- Archive of scanned copies of Boardwatch Magazine
- Archive of FidoNet Nodelists (for tracing the history of specific BBSes that participated in FidoNet)
These are texts (mostly books) which document websites, platforms, and other early web resources.
- Glossbrenner, Alfred. 1990. The Complete Handbook of Personal Computer Communications. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
- Lewis, Howard R., Martha E. Lewis, and Jean S. Arbeiter. 1986. The Electronic Confessional : A Sex Book of the 80’s. New York: M. Evans.
Edited collection of advice column questions (and responses), as well as personal user narratives, posted to CompuServe's Human Sexuality (HSX) forum. Topics of interest include early discussions of HIV/AIDS, transsexual care, and "compusex."
- Mark, Richard Scott. 1996. Internet BBSs: A Guided Tour. Greenwich, CT: Manning Publications.
- Morrow, Blaine Victor, and Sara Burak. 1996. Dial up!: Gale’s Bulletin Board Locator. Detroit: Gale Research.
One of the largest existing BBS "phonebooks" published, cataloging 10,000 boards, including those on commercial services AOL, Prodigy, Delphi, and GEnie. Catalog entries include BBS location, sysop contact information, modem speed, software, computers supported, subscription fees, access times, and brief description of content.
- Rittner, Don. 1993. The Whole Earth On-Line Almanac: Info from A to Z [The Most Comprehensive Reference for Online Services]. New York: Brady.
- Shefski, William J. 1994. Free Electronic Networks. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing.
Collects lists for a variety of BBS networks and was instrumental in creating the 1994 map of TGNet
- Tamosaitis, Nancy. 1995. Net.Sex. Emeryville, CA: Ziff-Davis Press.
Explores variety of sexuality-related content online, including detailed discussions of LGBTQ-related newsgroups in the alt.* hierarchy.
- Archive of "For Queer Mice" web column, which ran in the St. Louis-based SLAM Magazine prior to 1999 included links to various LGBTQ-related web services
- Laermer, Richard. 1997. Get on with It : The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Getting Online. New York: Broadway Books.
- Dawson, Jeff. 1996. Gay & Lesbian Online. 1st Ed. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.
5 editions published (1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003)
- Fitch, J., C. Applewood, K. Brown, and K. English. 1997. Out’s Gay & Lesbian Guide to the Web. Emeryville, CA: Lycos Press.
- Cybersocket: The Gay Net Directory. 1998-Present. Gaynet Directory.
Published yearly since 1998. 2001 edition available at the Internet Archive.
- Ellis, Alan, and Harvey Milk Institute. 2002. The Harvey Milk Institute Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Internet Research. New York; London: Harrington Park.
These articles, texts, and web resources offer historical background and context on various parts of the early web, including hardware, software, and relevant sites.
- Computer History Timeline: Networking & The Web.
Covers major events in the development of computer networks.
- Version Museum
Tracks changes over time in major web platforms and operating systems.
- Museum of Obsolete Media
Collects and documents many now-obsolete file and data formats.
- Auerbach, David. 2014a. “How Early Online Gay Culture Anticipated Today’s Social Networks.” Slate Magazine. August 20, 2014.
- Auerbach, David. 2014b. “We’ve Forgotten That LGBTQ Nerds Helped Create Online Life as We Know It.” Slate Magazine. August 21, 2014.
- Delwiche, Aaron. 2018. “Early Social Computing: The Rise and Fall of the BBS Scene (1977–1995).” In The SAGE Handbook of Social Media, edited by Jean Burgess, Alice Marwick, and Thomas Poell, 35–52. London: SAGE Publications.
Driscoll, Kevin. 2016. “Social Media’s Dial-Up Ancestor: The Bulletin Board System.” IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News. October 24, 2016.
- Giardina, Henry. “An Oral History of the Early Trans Internet.” Gizmodo. July 9, 2019.
McTavish, Sarah. 2018. “West Hollywood Goes Global: Exploring Queer Identity on GeoCities.” presented at the 2018 Global DH Symposium, Michigan State University, May 25.
- Melendez, Steven. n.d. “How ’90s Cybersex Pioneers Looked for Action and Found Community.” Gizmodo. December 19, 2018.
While these readings do offer some historical background and context, they also discuss the methodological issues related to web history research.
- Brügger, Niels. “Web History and the Web as a Historical Source.” Zeithistorische Forschungen 9, no. 2 (2012): 316–325.
- Dame-Griff, Avery. “Herding the ‘Performing Elephants:’ Using Computational Methods to Study Usenet.” Internet Histories: Digital Technology, Culture and Society. Forthcoming (Pre-print available).
Driscoll, Kevin, and Camille Paloque-Berges. 2017. “Searching for Missing ‘Net Histories.’” Internet Histories 1 (1–2): 47–59.
- Furman, Ivo. 2015. “Studying the Influence of Bulletin Board System Technologies on the Communication Culture of Pre-Internet Turkish-Speaking Online Communities: A Socio-Technical Approach.” New Perspectives on Turkey 53: 37–69. https://doi.org/10.1017/npt.2015.18.
- McKinney, Cait. 2018. “Printing the Network: AIDS Activism and Online Access in the 1980s.” Continuum 32 (1): 7–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2018.1404670. (Open access version available.)
- Milligan, Ian. History in the Age of Abundance?: How the Web is Transforming Historical Research. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2019.