Scope and arrangement
TheStephen DonaldsonPapers document the varied career and turbulent personal history of the writer and activist. The date span of the papers is 1965-1998. They include manuscripts, typescripts, and publication tearsheets of Donaldson's writings, editorial and administrative papers for the unpublishedConciseEncyclopedia of Homosexuality, personal and professional correspondence, news clippings and printed material, visual materials, audiotapes, and a few items of clothing and ephemera. TheStephen DonaldsonPapers are an important resource for the study of gay and bisexual activism, prisoners and prison life and American counter-cultural movements from the 1960s-90s. Donaldson's correspondence and writings provide a fascinating view of the 1968 student uprising at Columbia University, the origins of the gay student movement, the sexual revolution of the late-1960s and drug use within the youth subculture of that period. Also documented from a first-hand perspective is Donaldson's ground-breaking fight against his General Discharge from theUnited States Navyfor suspected homosexual involvement. Donaldson's letters regarding the case are complemented by news clippings, press releases and copies of Navy records. The papers also contain much information on Donaldson's wide-ranging interests, including Indian religions, the history of sexuality, gay and bisexual activism, prison conditions and the sexual victimization of male prisoners, punk rock music and the punk subculture. Visual materials include photoprints, photocopies, negatives and drawings ofStephen Donaldson, scenes from his travels, his friends and colleagues and various punk rock performances. Audiotape cassettes contain interviews and lectures byStephen Donaldsonand others on the topics of male sexual victimization and prisoner rape, bisexual activism and punk rock.
The Stephen Donaldson papers are arranged in eight series:
- 1965-19962.35 linear feet
Stephen Donaldson's correspondence files contain incoming and outgoing letters and postcards which document many aspects of his career as author, editor and activist, as well as his turbulent personal history. The files are arranged alphabetically by the name of the correspondent, organization or subject. Numerous correspondents are identified only by first name, by a nickname or by initials. Donaldson's strong autobiographical impulse led him to make and preserve carbon copies of many of the letters that he wrote over the years. Many of his carbons were made on the backs of mimeographed documents of organizations with which Donaldson was involved (such as the Student Homophile League), and thus have an additional evidentiary value. This series includes important items from Donaldson's formative years as a student at Columbia University, such as his letters to friends regarding the 1968 student uprising at Columbia, the origins of the Student Homophile League, his cross-country hitchhiking trips, his experimentation with drugs, his romantic attachments and his sexual encounters. This early material is complemented by Donaldson's 1960s-70s correspondence with his mother, Lois Vaughan, which provides insights on his troubled family history. There is also extensive correspondence with lawyers, editors, politicians and friends regarding Donaldson's fight against his 1972 discharge from the U.S. Navy. Several folders which contain only letters related to this case are marked "re: Navy discharge" in the container list. There is additional legal correspondence regarding Donaldson's 1980 arrest and felony conviction and his subsequent terms in prison from 1980-84 and 1990. During the early 1980s Donaldson typed, photocopied and mailed to multiple recipients what he called "round letters." These documents, contained in Box 1, Folder 25, provide a remarkable view of Donaldson's daily life in prison, his sexual encounters with fellow inmates, his interest in punk rock and his experiences in New York City after his parole. The round letters are complemented by correspondence with various publishers and editors regarding essays and poems written by Donaldson while he was in prison and shortly thereafter. During the late 1980s-90s, Donaldson's music reviews won him some renown among punk rock fans, and the circle of his correspondence widened to include dozens of punks from around the world. Many of these letters are contained in the "Miscellaneous" folders located in Box 4, Folders 4-6.
- 1966-19951 linear foot
The writings of Stephen Donaldson include manuscript and typescript diaries, manuscripts, typescripts and tearsheets of published and unpublished essays and poems, news articles written for the Associated Press,VirginiaPilotandOverseas Weeklyand a some unidentified notes and fragments. The material is arranged alphabetically by the title of the work, when known. A few folders contain correspondence, news clippings and printed material gathered by Donaldson in the course of his research for the project concerned. There are also a few items of promotional material issued in connection with various writings. Donaldson's college years are particularly well-documented by such items as a diary kept during 1966-1968 (Box 7, Folder 18), class notes and papers (Box 7, Folders 14 and 23) and an article on gay student life which appeared in theColumbia Daily Spectator(Box 7, Folder 3). Also of interest from this period are typescripts of Donaldson's Student Homophile League news columns (Box 9, Folder 14) written for the newspaperGay Power. Writings from later in Donaldson's life include typescripts and publication tearsheets of many "Donny the Punk" articles on music, sexuality and religion, and his essays on the sexual victimization of male prisoners. Finally, there are examples of Donaldson's scholarly writing in the fields of gay and bisexual history, such as an essay written in collaboration with Wayne Dynes (Box 7, Folder 30).
- 1990-19962.5 linear feet
This series documents Donaldson's extensive editorial work on a revised edition of the 1990Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. Included are correspondence with authors and publishers, promotional materials, administrative records, publishing contracts, typescript drafts of encyclopedia entries, and a complete draft of the final typescript of the book, which was never published. Also included are eleven 3 1/2" and ten 5 1/4" computer disks containing electronic versions ofConcise Encyclopediaentries. This material appears to duplicate the final typescript version of theConciseEncyclopediacontained in Boxes 12-14. Electronic files on the 3 1/2" disks were successfully opened using plain-text editing software in September 2000.
- 1965-19961.65 linear feet
Materials in this alphabetically arranged series document Stephen Donaldson's varied research interests, his educational and professional activities and his troubled legal history. Included are college records such as transcripts and a diploma, printed materials issued by various organizations of which Donaldson was a member, information on various businesses and publications for which he worked, as well as news clippings and notes on numerous research topics. Also included in this series are a copy of Donaldson's FBI file (in which he is identified by his legal name, Robert A. Martin, Jr.) obtained by him through a Freedom of Information Act request, legal records and press releases related to his 1972 discharge by the U.S. Navy, and legal records regarding his several later arrests and terms in prison.
- 1960s-1990s and n.d.1 linear foot
This small group of black and white and color photoprints, color negatives, photocopies, drawings and transparencies includes images of Stephen Donaldson, scenes from his travels, his friends and colleagues and various punk rock performances. The material is arranged alphabetically by subject.
- 1973-1992 and n.d.2 linear feet
These boxes contain sixteen of Stephen Donaldson's well-worn t-shirts, hand-lettered and decorated with slogans and drawings which document his penchant for frank public declarations regarding his sexuality. Also included are a poster advertising a 1973 speech by Donaldson about his experience in the Washington D.C. jail, an award plaque from the Veerashaiva Samaja of North America's 15th Annual Convention, and a small pendant commemorating the U.S.S. Courtney.
- 1982-1988 and n.d..5 linear feet
Audiotape cassettes of interviews and lectures by Stephen Donaldson on the topics of male sexual victimization and prisoner rape, bisexual activism and punk rock. Also included are a recording of a 1982 parole hearing for Donaldson (identified by his legal name, Robert A. Martin, Jr.), a lecture by author L. A. Visano on the prison system and a panel discussion of adolescent sexuality featuring several unidentified speakers. The original cassettes contained in Box 23 are unavailable for research use for preservation reasons. Service copy duplicates of the original tapes have been made and are available for research. Please request service copies of audiotape cassettes by control numbers given in the Container List.
- 1984-19981 linear foot
Files predominantly containing articles, tearsheets and news clippings related to the activities of Stop Prison Rape, and related media coverage dealing with the subject of sexual violence in prison, treatment of gay prisoners, and prisoners with HIV. Also includes some correspondence with Donaldson, as well as with Tom Cahill, president of Stop Prison Rape after Donaldson’s death.