GLAMA

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library

The now-infamous Stonewall Riots in 1969 -- when gay people fought back against a police raid on a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York --  is widely viewed as a major turning point in United States gay history, a moment that defined and established the gay and lesbian rights movement as we know it today.

But the real foundational moment may have been a quiet meeting here in Kansas City. It flew under most people's radar at the time, and remains a relatively unknown historical event even today.

The Crosthwaite Family Collection / The Black Archives of Mid-America

When historians hope to uncover a new wrinkle in the past, they usually head to an archive. They dig through boxes and folders containing photographs, letters and other artifacts, looking for something that sheds new light on the past. Here are a few little-known gems, selected by Kansas City archivists.

Guests:

Private Birthday Party / Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, UMKC

In the 1950s and 1960s, gay and lesbian clubs dotted the Kansas City metro area.

Bars, with names like The Ivanhoe Cabaret and The Terrace, "were widely viewed as having some of the finest entertainment around," according to the News-Telegraph in a 1992 article. But these drag balls, also called "tea parties" or "private birthday parties," were mostly underground events.