December 2017: Celebrating the completion of my course, “Documenting the Queer Past in St. Louis,” with some of the women whose oral histories were collected by my students.

About Me

I am a historian of gender and sexuality with a focus on the modern United States. I’ve been at Washington University in St. Louis since 1996, with a joint appointment in History and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. I was honored to be the first tenure-line professor in what was then called the Women’s Studies Program, and having both of these homes has informed my research, teaching, and service at Wash U. My courses span U.S. women’s and gender history, the history of sexuality, feminist politics, and queer and sexuality studies. I have been a member of the LGBT Advisory Board and have been active in creating a Safe Zones program to educate staff and faculty about becoming allies to LGBTQ* students. I’m also interested in contemporary queer politics. For my take on the controversy over the feature film Stonewall, see here.

Much of my research has examined the relationship between gender and the state, particularly the ways that gender, racial and sexual inequalities have shaped understandings and practices of citizenship and democracy. Tracking from the beginning of the twentieth century to its end, and from local political to national and international frames, I focus on individuals and groups who frequently remain outside the bounds of “political history” to show that using the categories of gender and sexuality can fundamentally transform our understanding of the American state. Most recently, I have been pursuing these questions through an analysis of sexual politics during the Clinton presidency, especially the relationship between the Lewinsky/Clinton sex scandal and late twentieth century understandings of heterosexuality. 

Recently, I have also embarked on several projects concerning LGBTQ history in  metropolitan St. Louis since the end of World War II. With Washington University Libraries Curator of Local History Miranda Rectendwald and community partners, I have created a collaborative research project, “Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis.”  We use GIS mapping methods to analyze how sexuality divides cities and how urban spaces are implicated in the division of queer communities around race, gender, and class. Our map, which documents LGBTQ spaces, and the stories behind them, in the St. Louis region between 1945 and 1992, launched in October 2017.

I have also begun a project that collects oral histories of individuals who were involved in LGBTQ life in the St. Louis region. In Fall 2017, students in my  service-learning class, “Documenting the Queer Past in St. Louis,” launched that project, conducting oral history interviews with 13 people, including lesbians who came of age in the 1940s-1980s, and black gay men who are health activists. 

I have authored two books: Citizenship in Cold War America: The National Security State and the Possibilities of Dissent (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014) and Prurient Interests: Gender, Democracy, and Obscenity in New York City, 1909-1945 (Columbia University Press, 2000). Among my other published works is the article “The Strange Career of Annie Lee Moss: Rethinking Race, Gender, and McCarthyism” (Journal of American History 94), winner of the 2007 Berkshire Conference Article Prize. 

Andrea Friedman

Professor of History and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies


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Washington University in St. Louis
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Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899

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