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William Damon papers

Identifier: Ms-Coll-1

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains material from the 1960s through the 1980s and is of interest to scholars of gay life in the period. Most of the items relate primarily to Damon's personal history and are chiefly biographical. Insofar as Damon lived in Provincetown and Key West, two well-known gay resorts, these materials do offer glimpses of a larger gay world. And given that Damon spent about the first 10 and the last 10 years of his life in Philadelphia, these materials also offer scholars a window on the changes that Philadelphia experienced between the late 1960s and the 1980s.

The collection is arranged into seven series: "I. Biography"; "II. Organizations"; "III. Photographs"; "IV. Correspondence"; "V. Creative Writing"; "VI. Journals"; and "VII. Miscellaneous ephemera."


  • 1965 - 1984


Conditions Governing Access Note

Access to this collection is unrestricted. Contact John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia for more information about accessing the collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

William Forster Damon was born in October 21, 1943 in Philadelphia. After an active life in the gay communities of Philadelphia, Provincetown, MA, and Key West, FL, Damon returned to his native Philadelphia where he died in approximately 1985.

Damon was educated at the Wallingford School, Haverford School, Valley Forge Military Academy, and the Brown Preparatory School, where he graduated in 1962. He spent the next several years at the Pennsylvania Military College (1963-65), the Nathanial Brandon Institute in New York (1965-66), and the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism in Philadelphia (1966-67).

In September 1968, Damon became a staff writer and contributing editor of DRUM Magazine, the publication of Philadelphia's Janus Society, one of the city's most active lesbian/gay political organizations in the 1960s. During this period in Philadelphia, Damon served as the East Coast director of the Committee to Fight Exclusion of Homosexuals from the Draft (1968-1970) and as a member of the Homosexual Law Reform Society of Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley Council on Religion and the Homosexual. During this time, Damon also attended the East Coast Regional Homophile Conference in Washington. After DRUM ceased publication, Damon worked briefly for its successor magazine, PACE (July-August 1969).

After one year's work at DRUM, Damon toured Western Europe and North Arica (October 1969-May 1970). On his return, he moved to Provincetown, MA, where he worked for the Crown and Anchor Motor Inn (June 1970-May 1973) and the Lower Cape Newspaper (1972-1973), before becoming the owner/manager of the Owls Nest Inn (June 1973-December 1976). After more than three years there, Damon went to work for the Boatslip Motor Inn for a few months. While in Provincetown, Damon served as the director of the Homophile Assistance League of Provincetown (1970-1977) and a contributing reporter to Gay Community News in Boston (beginning 1974) and Philadelphia Gay News (beginning 1975). Damon also served as Massachusetts state director of Gays for Schapp in 1976 and as a political consultant in Elaine Noble's Senate campaign in 1977. While in Massachusetts, Damon also was a member of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce and was a Massachusetts delegate to the National Gay Leadership Conference, summer 1977.

In November 1977, Damon moved to Key West, Florida where he worked first at the Monster Discotheque and then became the president of Conch Wheels Ltd, Inc., an auto rental company. While there he worked against Anita Bryant's anti-gay campaign (1977) and served as a consultant on gay issues for the John Spottswood for State Senate campaign, a member of the Civil Liberties Union of Florida (1977-79) and the Key West Business Guild (1977-79), and a contributing writer for Philadelphia Gay News.

In 1979, Damon returned to Philadelphia. In 1980, he worked as the state director of Pennsylvania gay outreach for the Edward Kennedy for President campaign and as an assistant press secretary for the C. DeLores Tucker for US Senate campaign. In these years, Damon was a member of the Walt Whitman Democratic Club and the American Civil Liberties Union, worked with the Eromin Center and Au Courant, and was active in Gay and Lesbian Alcoholics Anonymous groups.


2 Linear feet

Language of Materials



William Damon was an active member of the gay communities of Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, NY; Key West, Fla., and Provincetown, Mass. Throughout his life he was active in the gay rights movement. He worked as an editor and writer for multiple publications. The William Damon papers, 1965-1984, contain items relating to Damon's personal life and are chiefly biographical.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Gift of William Damon, 1984.

Separated Materials Note

The original collection contained much legal and financial materials not directly related to Damon's life as a gay man, and the archives has not saved these. Some materials were gay-related but had no apparent direct connection to Damon's life, and these have been removed to other parts of the archives. These included items from the National Gay Task Force (1974-77), the Human Rights Campaign Fund (1982-83), the Pennsylvania Council for Sexual Minorities (1982), the fund for Human Dignity (1982), Exodus (1981-82), the Walt Whitman Democratic Club (1980), and the National Man/Boy Love Association (1982). Also removed to other parts of the archives were news clippings and magazine articles from 1976-1983, a set of which focused on the gay community in Washington, D.C., 1981.

Processing Information Note

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2011-2012 as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR), using data provided by the John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia. The HCI-PSAR project was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was done in the HCI-PSAR project.

William Damon papers, 1965-1984
Finding aid prepared by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using data provided by the John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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This preliminary finding aid was created by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) using data provided by the John J. Wilcox Jr. LGBT Archives of Philadelphia. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center Repository

1315 Spruce Street
Philadelphia PA 19107