Don Kelly Research Collection of Gay Literature and Culture

My time at work for the last several months has been taken up with a new collection at Cushing; the Don Kelly Collection of Gay Literature and Culture. It’s not the sort of thing you’d expect to be at a public university in Texas with a conservative reputation (#1 most conservative on the last Princeton Review, if I recall correctly) so we’re all extremely pleased that we were able to acquire it and I’m very proud of being able to have played a part.

Don Kelly started collecting gay literature after he retired from public service and the scope of what he collected spread and grew from a list of “lost gay books” to pulps to poetry to nearly complete runs of gay magazines put out by the activist groups of the 1950s and 60s. And more. He tracks everything on LibraryThing, which has been invaluable for both convincing the university that the collection is important and worth having and also for preparing for the exhibit featuring the collection before we’ve had time to catalog the contents.

I was asked to organize the exhibit, which was both exciting and terrifying, as I’ve never been in charge of an exhibit before. I have good help though, and as far as I (and the people who have done this before) can tell things are proceeding on schedule, so I seem to doing pretty well. I have a catalog to edit and I have a committee who has been helping with research and selection, I’m trying to get everything that I’m responsible for done early just in case there are delays anywhere, and to remember everything that needs to be done so I can make sure someone does it. It’s a great collection and I’ve been enjoying the research. (My having done a lot of research back when we decided that we were going to have the exhibit but before I was put in charge is largely why I was asked to lead the project.) It should be an excellent exhibit.

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