Unraveling an Internet Mystery

The inimitable Moms Mabley

If the Internet was a landscape it would be a treacherous one. Trolls lurk under every bridge waiting for women, oops, I mean game journalists, to pounce. Rabbit holes can suck the unsuspecting into a stupor of unloved Youtube videos or videos of people whispering. Pranksters infect seemingly accurate content with misinformation. Some of them even teach classes on it. There’s a reason we use the word navigation to describe moving through the Internet. Mostly, though, we don’t know exactly how to read the compass.

So when my partner, Whitney Strub and I found out from Wikipedia that irreverent black comedian Moms Mabley had been an out lesbian and performed at the first Michigan Womyn’s Festival, we probably should’ve been wary. Instead, we were ready to brag about our find! For whatever reason, scholars had missed this historical tidbit, even though an album of her performance preserved it for posterity.

Except the album never existed because Moms never performed at the Festival. How we got duped and unraveled an Internet mystery is detailed in two parts on History@Work: Moms at the Myth, Part 1 and Moms at the Myth, Part 2. Enjoy our befuddlement!

PS: Also see some Twitter backlash from the Michigan Womyn’s Festival about our mentioning their position on transgender people attending.

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