Skip to main content

Cross-dressing photographs

Identifier: MSS 492

Scope and Contents

One postcard showing a person identified as "Rex" in a dress and wig, next to them and sitting on a post is a person identified as Loren Nelson Omans. Both are posing in front of a house with trees in the background. On the verso is a canceled stamp dated "4 pm 1912 Detroit MI" and a note in pencil signed as "Love from Rex," the postcard is addressed to Mrs. J. O. Power of Addison, Mich. The postcard also contains an ink annotation: "Rex in dress, Nelson Omans on post."

One black and white photograph of a person wearing a fur coat, leather gloves, scarf, stockings, and high heels, leaning against a tree with a sign stating "Christmas Celebration." The background features a road and farm buildings.


  • Creation: approximately 1912-1920

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain.

Biographical / Historical

The two images in this collection were purchased together and the original description from the seller identified 'Rex' as the person wearing 'women's clothes' in both photographs. Upon closer examination, we were not able to establish if it is in fact the same person. The context of the images has also not being established. Both images present a person inferred as assigned male at birth and wearing clothes of the opposite sex. While there is a long tradition of postcards featuring female impersonators in a variety of contexts, and lately there has been a reevaluation of how we approach and describe images portraying individuals challenging gender norms, not being able to establish the context of either of these photographs presents a challenge for how to present them as resource for scholarship.


.1 Linear Feet : 1 postcard and 1 photograph

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased by Bolerium Books in May 2016.

Finding Aid for Cross-dressing photographs
4 Published And Cataloged
Finding aid prepared by Lydia Tang in 2016. Updated by Eli Landaverde in 2022.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2022-09-22: Finding aid revised to update terminology and provide more context about the two images.

Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA