Gerry E. Studds Papers—available for Researchers at the Massachusetts Historical Society—Used in New Biography

Collection contains material on wide-ranging subjects such as environmental and wildlife conservation, foreign policy, and gay rights and HIV/AIDS prevention.

The papers of Rep. Gerry E. Studds, donated to the MHS in 2014 by Studds’s husband Dean T. Hara, were used to write the first biography of Studds and are available for research. Gerry Eastman Studds (1937-2006), the first openly gay Congressman in the United States and an early leader in the gay and lesbian fight for equal rights and HIV/AIDS prevention, was also a vocal advocate for the environment, fisheries and wildlife conservation, the Coast Guard, health care, and many other causes. This wide-ranging collection contains material on a variety of subjects.

The collection consists primarily of legislative papers, campaign papers, and scrapbooks. Included are speeches, statements, press releases, newsletters, correspondence, subject files, clippings, briefing books, surveys, and commendations. Some of the highlights include:

  • Two biographical scrapbooks compiled by Studds’s  mother, Beatrice (Murphy) Studds, including material from his childhood, education, and early career;
  • Papers related to the 1968 New Hampshire primary campaign of Sen. Eugene McCarthy, which Studds coordinated;
  • Sixteen detailed surveys of voters in Studds’s district  reflecting the attitudes of his constituency on a variety of issues over his 24-year tenure;
  • Papers documenting Studds’s work to protect Massachusetts Bay’s Stellwagen Bank and to designate the Boston Harbor Islands as a national park;
  • And heartfelt letters from anonymous gay servicemen and women thanking Studds for his support of policies that would allow them to serve openly in the military.

Studds served in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1997 representing the 12th district of Massachusetts (redistricted to the 10th in 1983). His district included Cape Cod, the islands, and parts of the South Shore, and his papers are a great resource for information on fishing, fisheries, and the Coast Guard. His 24-year tenure in the House included service on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee and the Foreign Services Committee. He proposed the creation of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and fought for human rights in Central America. 

On July 27, at 6:00 PM, Mark Robert Schneider, author of Gerry Studds: America's First Openly Gay Congressman (University of Massachusetts Press, 2017), will speak about his biography at the MHS.