Wednesday night there was a rumbling in the GLBT community regarding one of Houston's most treasured collections of gay and lesbian artifacts, the Charles Botts Memorial Archives and Library. An anonymous collector recently acquired the Charles Botts Collection from its longtime home at the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, where it has been kept since Botts's death in 1995. This acquisition was publicly announced during an open forum last night at GLBT Cultural Center, located in the Montrose Counseling Center.
The collection will be moved out of its longtime place of residence and will be placed under the care of appointed trustee Judy Reeves, who currently runs the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History, Inc (GCAM). The collection will officially be called The Charles W. Botts Memorial Research Library of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender (GLBT) Studies.
The Botts Collection, as it is generally known, is one of the most extensive repositories of gay and lesbian memorabilia pertaining specifically to Houston. According to the Houston Area Rainbow Collective History Web site, the collection includes "approximately 10,000 books including biographies, directories, published studies, and novels written for the LGBT community. The book collection includes books signed by people such as Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg, and Barbara Jordan."
The collection also includes a wide variety of past issues of periodicals such as OutSmart and the Houston Voice, among others. Additionally, Botts acquired a number of gay and lesbian artifacts including posters, buttons, flyers and scrapbooks, along with a variety of other items. Anything GLBT-related that Botts got his hands on he kept, and he turned this passion into an extensive historical array of paraphernalia.
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We spoke with Reeves via phone, and she is pleased to have been given this responsibility. Reeves has been running GCAM since its inception and believes this is the reason she has been trusted with this invaluable assortment of Houston's gay history.
"I'm sure it is because of my experience with GCAM," Reeves says, "that I was appointed trustee." However, she insists on pointing out that the Botts Collection is not going to be a part of the GCAM; it will remain its own entity.
Now comes the difficult part of cataloging and arranging the items. "This is a humongous job," Reeves explains. She has already put a call out to community volunteers to help clean up and catalog.
Once this cataloging is complete, there are big plans for the Botts Collection. In its former residence, interested parties would have to make an appointment to see the collection of over six rooms of books and objects. The current intent is to move the entire collection to a permanent residence where it can be regularly visited and used for research purposes. A location has yet to be disclosed, but Reeves assures it will be open to the general public, with a grand opening at the beginning of 2013.