Every month, LGBTQ activist and collector David Williams leaves his Old Louisville home, pushing a large, squeaky cart – loaded with boxes, books and artifacts – and walks more than 10 blocks to UofL’s Archives and Special Collections Library. It’s his monthly donation to the Williams-Nichols collection, which he established in 1994 and has helped build into one of the leading archives of LGBTQ materials in the country.
The collection contains more than 5,000 books, 30,000 print publications and 1,700 items dedicated solely to the history of LGBTQ issues in the region and throughout the U.S. It is one of the most heavily used collections in Archives and Special Collections, not only by the UofL community but by scholars nationally and worldwide.
In honor of his services, The Kentucky State Historical Records Advisory Board has awarded Williams the 2015 Certificate of Merit for Notable Service to and Advocacy for Archives in Kentucky by a private citizen. Williams will receive the Certificate of Merit at a ceremony Mon., Oct. 26, at 3 p.m. in the Lower Level of Ekstrom Library. The public is invited to attend and celebrate.
Williams began collecting LGBT posters, books, buttons, bar flyers, documents and memorabilia in the early 1970s and continues to add new material he discovers locally, on eBay or at one of the numerous events he attends. He donated the collection to the library in 2001, in honor of his former partner Norman Nichols, who died of AIDS.
Some of the memorable items include the complete archive of “Sojourner,” a feminist literary journal and copies of “Mattachine Review,” a publication of the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest homophile organizations. Williams also created a comprehensive index to LGBTQ references in “The Courier-Journal” newspaper from the 19th century to present day. His index has made it possible for researchers to commemorate LGBTQ places and events with historical markers throughout the Commonwealth.
Delinda Buie, UofL Curator of Rare Books, and Chad Owen, Archivist for Records Management, nominated Williams for the award and praised his ability to discern what’s historically relevant.
“It is important for David not only to collect the material, but to make it as widely available as possible,” Owen said. “It’s incredibly important and helpful.”
For more information, contact Amy Purcell, Associate Curator, at 502-852-1861 or firstname.lastname@example.org.