Hidden Love: LGBTQ+ lives in the 1920s and 1930s

What can our documents reveal about LGBTQ+ lives in the 1920 and 30s?

What to expect in the onsite workshop:

In this session students will explore what original documents can reveal about spaces that LGBTQ+ people used in the 1920s and 30s. These include vibrant Soho clubs like Billie’s and Shim Sham, as well as the lonely-hearts publication ‘The Link.’ Students will be encouraged to carefully consider how much we can learn from state and police records about LGBTQ+ history.

The two-hour workshop is led by an experienced history educator in an inspiring learning space at The National Archives in Kew. This is a special opportunity for students to handle this rich collection relating to LGBTQ+ history, including photographs, police reports and personal letters.

What to expect in the online workshop:

In the online workshop in your classroom students will explore the lives of people from the LGBTQ+ community in the past through our rich collection of documents, from personal letters to police surveillance records. The session includes the fascinating story of Cyril, who attended the Caravan Club in Soho, a LGBT+ friendly space. Learners will be encouraged to carefully consider the provenance of The National Archives collection and how much we can learn from state/police records.

The one-hour online session in your classroom is led by an experienced history educator, you only need a microphone, large screen and webcam to take part. Interactive activities encourage students to discuss their ideas and work in groups using high-quality materials provided in advance by the Education team.

*Note we will adapt the timing of the workshop to fit with your lesson times.

Connections to curriculum:

A Level

  • Edexcel History: Paper 1, Option 1: Britain transformed, 1918–97
  • AQA History: 1G Challenge and transformation: Britain, c1851–1964
  • AQA History: 2S The Making of Modern Britain, 1951–2007 (provides historical context to the Wolfenden Report)


  • AQA Citizenship: 3.2 Life in modern Britain
  • Edexcel Citizenship: Theme A: Living together in the UK

Session options

This session is delivered as a:

Online assembly

in your classroom(s) or hall

20-30 minutes

Online workshop

in your classroom

1 hour

Onsite workshop

at The National Archives

2 hours

Available:  All year

Cost: Free to UK schools

Suitability: Key stage 4 & 5

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