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Guide to the John Paul De Cecco Papers, 1923-1999
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Collection Overview
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This collection documents the academic life of John Paul De Cecco. It contains significant holdings relating to San Francisco State University and several programs within the university including the Center for Homosexual Education, Evaluation and Research (CHEER), the Center for Research and Education in Sexuality (CERES), the Journal of Homosexuality, and the Human Sexuality Studies Program. The collection contains very few items of a personal nature.
John Paul De Cecco was born in 1925, the fourth of five children, in Erie, Pennsylvania. After graduating high school in 1943, De Cecco earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Allegheny College in 1946. After teaching in the Erie high schools for one and one-half years , he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania graduate school where he earned an MA (1949) and a PhD (1953) in European history. He worked as an instructor in the history department at the University of Detroit between 1953 and 1955. He then took a position in the Humanities program at Michigan State University. Over the next few years he began to realize that his central interest was in teaching, particularly the interpersonal exchanges between student and teacher. He decided to avail himself of the opportunities for training in educational psychology at Michigan State University and later he accepted the invitation to teach in that program. The Center for Homosexual Education, Evaluation and Research (CHEER) was founded by John De Cecco and Michael Shively at San Francisco State University in 1975. CHEER was designed to be an academically-based research center where scholars from a variety of disciplines, but predominantly from the social and behavioral sciences, could conduct research into the social, historical, and cultural aspects of homosexuality. De Cecco later noted that the Center was founded in "the heady days of Gay Liberation," so it had an activist component and sensibility rather than a strictly objective academic charge. Several research projects were initiated, conducted, and completed under the auspices of CHEER, including the Civil Liberties project (CLIB) and the Sexual Assault and Violence Education Project (SAVE).The Journal of Homosexuality was founded by Charles Silverstein in 1974. Beginning with volume 3, no. 3 (Spring 1978), the Journal was edited by John De Cecco, however a there existed a clear continuity between the first two editors. According to an editorial by De Cecco in his first issue, the journal would be devoted to "research on human sexuality, sexual preference, and social sex-roles" -- meaning that from the beginning the editorial scope of the Journal expanded beyond homosexuality to cover gender roles and identity as well as sexuality writ large. De Cecco also made it clear that the Journal was to be an interdisciplinary enterprise and that it would include articles not only from academics but also from practitioners in the fields of social work, psychiatry, criminology, and so forth. While under the editorship of De Cecco, the Journal lived up to its goal of publishing interdisciplinary work from researchers who came from a variety disciplines and professional backgrounds. The Journal was published quarterly, yet it often appeared irregularly and a portion of its issues were published as double-issues. Many issues were edited and assembled by guest-editors who created "special issues" on topics such as theory, psychotherapy, homosexual couples, and alcoholism. A number of these "special issues" provided a forum for CHEER/CERES-based research, such as the "special issue" on lesbianism, which was guest-edited by Monika Kehoe who also was the Principal Investigator of the Lesbians Over 60 project. As of January 2003, the Journal continues to be published, but largely because of the proliferation of sexuality studies journals, it is no longer as influential in the field as it once was, with the exception of the field of empirical psychological research. Still, its relative longevity provides an interesting chronicle of the development of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender studies.The Human Sexuality Studies Program was approved by the Chancellor of San Francisco State University in 1980 but the Program dates its beginnings to 1968. In that year, several SFSU faculty members began teaching courses in human sexuality; in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s the number of sexuality courses expanded as did the number of departments in which the courses were taught. The disparate activities of SFSU faculty began to coalesce around 1978 when a group of professors gathered together and began developing an interdisciplinary minor in human sexualities. The proposal was completed in 1979 and the minor was approved in 1980. By 1982, human sexuality courses were added to the general education requirement and enrollments increased remarkably, particularly in the notorious, popular, and challenging "Variations in Human Sexuality" course, which was taught by De Cecco and attracted hundreds of students each semester. In 1992 a new minor in Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Studies was approved and in 2001 a graduate Master's degree program in Human Sexuality Studies was approved.
135 boxes
Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
Collection is open for research.