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William A. Koelsch papers

 Collection — Box: 1-2
Identifier: Coll2014-009

Scope and Contents

Writings, correspondence, transcripts, clippings, programs, fliers, press releases, guides, biographical information, and photographs documenting the projects, activities, and personal interests and history of William Koelsch, 1942-2014. The collection includes the fifteen years of column articles and two books published under the pseudonym A. Nolder Gay.


  • 1942-2014


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


William A. Koelsch was born in 1933. He received a bachelor's degree at Bucknell University in 1955 and a master's degree at Clark University in 1959. Koelsch graduated from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in American history in 1966. He was hired as an assistant professor of history and geography at Clark University in 1967 and soon became a tenured professor. During a sabbatical in 1973, he rented an apartment in Boston and became involved in the burgeoning gay movement. Under the pseudonym A. Nolder Gay, Koelsch wrote a column for the newly published newspaper Gay Community News (GCN). The first column appeared in issue #13 on September 15th, 1973, and would continue, in different guises and for different publications, for the next fifteen years.

By 1974, Koelsch began speaking before groups on gay topics, organizing "coming-out" raps, and attending services with the gay-supportive religious groups Integrity, Dignity, and the Metropolitan Community Church. In 1975, Koelsch taught a course on the gay liberation movement, one of the earliest such classes in New England. Koelsch volunteered for Thanksgiving dinners for the elderly poor through a group called the Fengays, which operated out of a Fenway gay bar, then a Back Bay gay bar called "Buddies." Koelsch became involved in the fledgling Massachusetts Gay Political Caucus which worked to support anti-discrimination bills and gay-supportive candidates. He worked with activist Barbara Gittings on gay bibliography projects and for the American Library Association's Lesbian and Gay Task Force annual book awards.

Koelsch wrote his A. Nolder Gay column for GCN, Esplanade, Integrity Forum, and Bay Windows. In 1978, he published the best of his GCN and Esplanade columns in the book The View from the Closet: Essays on Gay Life and Liberation. In 1990, he compiled the best of the history columns from all his publications in Some of My Best Friends: Essays in Gay History and Biography.

Shaken by the newly emerging AIDS epidemics, Koelsch, in the fall of 1982, began incorporating AIDS into his undergraduate health and disease course, one of the earliest treatments of the subject in a college context. He joined the Province I (New England) Episcopal AIDS Network, chaired the AIDS Task Force of his diocese, served on the Worcester Ecumenical Council's AIDS Committee, and volunteered locally and nationally for the NAMES Project's AIDS Memorial Quilt displays. Koelsch spoke to numerous groups about AIDS and AIDS ministry.

Since retiring, Koelsch has focused on his scholarly writing, publishing twenty-some professional articles and review essays as well as the book Geography and the Classical World: Unearthing Historical Geography's Forgotten Past. As of 2014, Koelsch and his partner "A Younger Gay" have been together for forty years.


1.6 Linear Feet (1 archive box + 1 archive carton)

Language of Materials



Articles, manuscripts, correspondence, transcripts, clippings, programs, fliers, press releases, guides, biographical information, and photographs documenting the writings, projects, activities, and personal interests and history of William Koelsch, 1942-2014. Koelsch was a Boston gay rights activist best known for his column series in Gay Community News, Esplanade, Integrity Forum, and Bay Windows, written under the pseudonym A. Nolder Gay.


Donated by William A. Koelsch, February 2014.

Separated Materials

Separated to the ONE periodical collection

Fellowship News, Lesbian and Gay Fellowship of the Trinity Church (November 1996, January 1997, September 1997, Winter 1997, Spring 1998, Summer 1998)

Gay Information: A Quarterly Journal (Autumn 1981)

Genders, no.2 (Summer 1988)

Integrity, news of the Boston chapter, (June, September, November/December 1978; January, May/June, September, November, Advent 1979; January/February, February/March, April, June, July, Early Autumn, November, December 1980; January-December 1981; January-October, December 1982; January-September 1983)

Integrity Forum, v.4, no.5 (June-July 1978)

Jim Kepner's Song & Dance, no.2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8a, and 10 (1994-1997)

Separated to the ONE programs collection

Ars Nova, Boston's chorus for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, "Holiday Concert" (December 8, 1991)

Coro Allegro, Boston's chorus for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, Schubert, Poulenc, Brahms and Bach concert (November 22, 1992); "Spring Concert" (May 14, 1994); "Chant" (February 12, 1995); and Rossi, Fine, Barber, and Pinkham concert (May 19, 1996).

The Names Project National Tour, Boston, Massachusetts, June 16-19, 1988.

Non-LGBT magazine cover story collection

Trinity Life, the newsletter of Trinity Church in the City of Boston (May 1997)

Separated to the International Gay and Lesbian Archives collection

International Gay and Lesbian Archives materials including Archives Bulletins (Fall 1983, Summer 1984, January 1986, May and November 1987, and Spring-Summer 1991), Archives Events (no.20 March 1981, no.41c June 1982, no.46 December 1982, and no.64 February 1988), archives reports, progress reports, meeting reports, fliers, mass mailings, and letters from the curator.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Kyle Morgan, 2014.

Finding Aid to the William A. Koelsch Papers, 1942-2014
Kyle Morgan
(c) 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771