Below the Ngram chart is a list of hyperlinked years and words to "Search in Google Books." To investigate the mysterious "notorious sodomite" entry (about midway through the list above), I used one of these links, which brought me to a regular Google Books search. To narrow my search results to works published in the period I was looking at in my Ngram chart (and to filter out contemporary historiographies using or quoting the word), I went under Tools and customized the time range. This new search yielded a bunch of old pseudo-historical texts – an 1855 Church of England Magazine article, an 1871 History of Romanism, an 1889 History of Latin Christianity, and a 1927 Preface to The Life and Confessions of Oscar Wilde. Those accused of being "notorious sodomites" included Xenophon (an ancient Greek philosopher), Pope Julius III, Pope Boniface, and (unexpectedly) Robbie Ross – Wilde's good friend. Ironically, Xenophon seems to have been more of an opponent of same-sex sexual activity (writing somewhat admiringly about the lack of homoeroticism in Spartan culture and going so far as to debate Socrates about the shamefulness of "homosexuality"). There is seemingly no evidence to support that Boniface was any sort of a queer, meanwhile Julius III was rumored to have had a long-standing relationship with his adopted nephew. Last but not least, the story of Oscar Wilde is well known; however, based on the Snippet View I was able to access, this descriptor among others ("an unspeakable skunk," "habitual debaucher and corrupter of young boys" and "blackmailer") was ascribed to Ross – an openly "gay" journalist.
Random factoids aside, these primary sources – the historical research they might prompt having been unified under an (un)common theme – illustrate one of the best aspects of Ngram. This tool is not just "exploratory for the sake of exploratory." it encourages critical engagement and follow-up questions. I was prompted to go down a rabbit hole of information just to learn about these men and their lives. What other information can we glean from these charts when different elements interest different people? Ngram should not be reserved for the masturbatory ramblings of academics who seek to engage the digital humanities in their work; it should be utilized by any layperson who is interested in understanding how language shapes and is shaped by our contexts – temporal, cultural or otherwise. In this case, "sodomy" is associated with immorality, notoriety, and a ruined reputation (especially, it seems, in a religious context).