Skip to main content

Off the Beats and Track: Finding Historical Lesbian & Queer Women's Feminist Spaces through Musicians' Tour Schedules, Concert Flyers, and Correspondence

Alex Ketchum
McGill University
Robert Sutherland Hall (School of Policy Studies) Room 202

Event Poster

Dr. Alex Ketchum (PhD History/McGill) is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies of McGill University. She is the Director of the Just Feminist Tech and Scholarship Lab and the organizer of Disrupting Disruptions: The Feminist and Accessible Publishing, Communications, and Tech Speaker and Workshop Series. Her work integrates food, technological, queer, and gender history. Ketchum's first peer-reviewed book, Engage in Public Scholarship!: A Guidebook on Feminist and Accessible Communication (2022), examines the power dynamics that impact who gets to create certain kinds of academic work and for whom these outputs are accessible. Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the trailblazing restaurant Mother Courage of New York City, Ketchum's second book, Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses (2022), is the first history of the more than 230 feminist and lesbian-feminist restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses that existed in the United States from 1972 to the present. You can find out more about her other writings, podcasts, zines, exhibitions, and more at


As a researcher, locating where lesbians and queer women gathered historically can be a challenging, yet rewarding task that enriches understandings of lesbian and queer women’s lives. This article speaks to historical research methods used to locate lesbians and queer women, especially within American and Canadian contexts from the 1960s onward. In addition to discussing research methods such as analyzing women’s and lesbian travel guides, directories, maps, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, websites, oral histories, social media, archival fonds and collections, this article will explore how utilizing lesbian and queer women musicians’ tour schedules, calendars, correspondence, and contracts for shows and appearances can be a useful strategy, especially for locating impermanent historical lesbian and queer women’s spaces. Drawing on musicians’ materials is a valuable historical research method for locating lesbian and queer women’s spaces off the beaten track.

Workshop participants should read and be prepared to discuss the paper. To obtain a copy, please email

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.