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Man Behind University of Louisville's LGBTQ Archive Picked For State Award

in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken | Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting
Eleanor Hasken
in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken | Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

An individual effort that began in the early 1970s will get formal recognition next week from the state's historical records board.

David Williams will be awarded the 2015 certificate of merit for notable service to and advocacy for archives in Kentucky by a private citizen. The award will be presented by the Kentucky State Historical Records Advisory Board.

Williams has for years worked to help grow the LGBTQ archives at the University of Louisville.

The Williams-Nichols collection has existed at U of L since 1994 and contains more than 1,700 items related to the history of LGBTQ issues in Louisville and across the country.

"It certainly would not exist without (Williams)," said Chad Owen, the university's archivist for records management.

Williams has added books, buttons, bar flyers and other memorabilia to the collection since the 1970s. He donated his vast collection to U of L in 2001 in honor of his former partner Norman Nichols, who died of AIDS, according to a new release.

Williams does more than just add to the collection, Owen said.

Williams is not only interested in building the stock of items in the collection, but also increasing the profile of those items and ensuring visitors "understand the value of primary-sourced materials, things that are contemporary to the LGBT struggles for rights and recognition."

"Just making sure that it's not only there and collected in one place and preserved, but that it's made available and has life breathed into it through its use," Owen said. "We have a lot of donors, but we don't have donors that are as active as David is."

Williams, who did not respond to a request for comment, will receive the award at a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. in the lower level of Ekstrom Library. The public is invited.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.