Homosaurus, the International LGBTQ Linked Data Vocabulary


Although usually-associated with abandoned card catalogs or outdated research methods, subject headings and controlled vocabularies were one of the most powerful inventions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Their adoption allowed for a tremendous amount of control over a seemingly endless proliferation of knowledge during the past century. Over the past few decades however, they have faced increasing criticism and terms describing marginalized groups have been disparaged as inappropriate, misleading or outrightly offensive. Solutions so far offered by library and information science professionals, including the use of folksonomies or social tagging are matched by a near-equal amount of research pointing out issues with tagging and uncontrolled vocabularies that lack meaning: there is ‘still a lot to lose. ' This presentation, building off a year-long research project, will suggest that queer linked data vocabularies offer a possible path forward. By studying the the catalogs and controlled vocabularies of archives and special collections–which frequently reckon with material that does not fit into standard subject headings–I will argue that they provide models for a new ‘generation’ of subject headings and vocabulary. After presenting several digital projects that are taking alternative approaches, I will then turn to the work that is being done by myself and others on Homosaurus, the International LGBTQ Linked Data Vocabulary. Finally, I will close the presentation by demonstrating a number of ways in which attendees can easily incorporate ethical linked vocabularies on a variety of digital platforms (Omeka, ArchivesSpace, etc.)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
linked data presentation queer archives homosaurus HomoIT
Brian M. Watson
Archivist, Historian, Knowledge Organizer

I’m an archivist, a public historian, an author, a researcher, and a knowledge organizer.