Photograph: "Homosexuals being punished," Canon City, CO: 1900-1910
"Homosexuals being punished by wearing dresses and wheeling heavy rocks"
In this photograph two black men wearing straw hats and what appear to be a uniform (and may be dresses) push wheelbarrows, each containing a large rock. A black man in a golf hat lifts the hat of one of the prisoners. A rock canyon and dirt road are in the background.
The Western History/Genealogy Department of the Denver Public Library identifies the setting of the photo as "at the State Penitentiary in Canon City, Colorado." The Library suggests that the photo dates to between 1900 and 1910.
The Library adds that on the back of the photo is handwritten: "Homosexuals being punished by wearing dresses and wheeling heavy rocks".
Provenance of Photo
As of August 27, 2010, OutHistory.org has contacted the Denver Public Library about the provenance of this photo, to try to learn anything about how it came to be in the collection, and who might have written the description on the back, and what the basis was for that attribution.
Among the questions this photograph raises are the following:
1 On what basis were the two black men identified as "homosexuals" and as prisoners being punished (presumably, for their homosexuality) by being, presumably, forced to wear dresses as punishment for their alleged crime?
2 Exactly what sort of uniform are the two men wearing? Are they dresses?
3 Is there any independent documentation of people imprisoned for homosexual acts being made to wear dresses as punishment?
4 Is there independent evidence of the legal situation of male-male sexual acts in Colorado in the early twentieth century?
5. Other questions that will help us all understand the historical context of this photo?
If you can help OutHistory.org locate evidence or analysis that helps explain this photograph, please provide citations in the Comment box or add them to the entry.
From the database of the Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library
This is all the data provided on the website of the Western History/Geneaology Department of the Denver Public Library:
Title: Homosexuals being punished by wearing dresses and wheeling heavy rocks
Call Number: X-7770
Summary: Black men in dresses and straw hats at the State Penitentiary in Canon City, Colorado, push wheelbarrows; each contains a large rock. A black man in a golf hat lifts the hat of one of the prisoners. Rock canyon and dirt road are in the background.
Date: [between 1900 and 1910?].
Notes: Title hand-written on back of photoprint. Formerly F43393.
Medium: 1 copy photonegative ; 10 x 13 cm. (4 x 5 in.). 1 photoprint ; 21 x 25 cm. (8 x 10 in.)
Copyright: Copyright restrictions applying to use or reproduction of this image available from the Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library. [OutHistory adds: The photograph is in the public domain.]
See Also: Colorado State Penitentiary.
Prisoners Colorado Canon City 1900-1910.
Gays Colorado Canon City 1900-1910.
Afro-americans Punishment & torture Colorado Canon City 1900-1910.
Canon City (Colo.) 1900-1910.