Koelsch, William A. Papers

Span Dates: 1942-2014
Bulk Dates:
Volume: 1.6 Linear Feet


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

Hist/Bio Note

William A. Koelsch was born in 1933. He received a bachelor's degree at Bucknell University in 1955 and a master's degreeat Clark University in 1959. Koelsch graduated from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in American history in 1966. Hewas 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.

Finding Aid

An online finding aid is available.


ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California 909 West Adams Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90007


AIDS | Boston | Massachusetts | Author/editor | Integrity | Episcopal Church | Gittings, Barbara