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Guide to the Robert Prager Papers, 1961-2003
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Related Material at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Robert Prager Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1961-2003
    Accession number: 1998-20
    Creator: Robert Prager
    Extent: 9 Boxes
    Repository: The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
    San Francisco, California.
    Abstract: This collection documents the intellectual pursuits of independent literary scholar Robert Prager. Included in the collection is correspondence and interviews with gay male writers. Also included is biographical research, including interviews and correspondence, into the life of artist Chuck Arnett.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright to selected material has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. Copyright of correspondence, unpublished writings, and oral history interviews are retained by the author/narrator unless otherwise noted.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Prager Papers, 1998-20, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated to the GLBT Historical Society by Robert Prager from 1998 through 2002.


    Robert Prager was born on May 16, 1955. Although Prager claims that his "education has largely been a matter of self-education," he attended Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit, Michigan from 1970 until 1973. He then attended nearby Wayne State University from 1973 until 1975 with a declared major in Journalism. After dropping out of Wayne State University, Prager worked in various surveying, construction, and road-building jobs. He returned to Wayne State University as a student in 1979 and graduated a year later Phi Beta Kappa in 1980 with a B.A. in English.
    At the end of June 1990 Prager was hired to work as a bartender at Folsom Street leather bar The Powerhouse and then in July 1991 at My Place, also located on Folsom Street. He quit bartending a year later at the end of June 1992 to attend Syracuse University as a graduate student in its MA program in American literature. He withdrew from his formal studies in literature in February 1993 to resume bartending at My Place, a position he continued to hold until the end of October 1993 at which time he retired from the business.
    Prager became very interested in "gay literature" beginning when he lived in Key West, Florida in 1981. He was fascinated by the overlap and interplay between the ideology of the gay movement and the aesthetics of literary production. He began corresponding with various published and unpublished gay writers as a way of documenting the literary history of the post-Stonewall gay literary movement.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Robert Prager Papers were donated to the GLBT Historical Society by Robert Prager beginning in 1998. The collection includes a significant collection of correspondence, the majority of which was exchanged between Prager and published gay male authors and others within the publishing industry. The most extensive and important exchanges were with Daniel Curzon (author of Something You Do in the Dark), Andrew Holleran (author of Dancer from the Dance), and Dirk Vanden (author of I Want It All); the content of these letters focuses on gay literature as well as the creative process. Also included in this collection are interviews with selected authors as well as copies of drafts and other unpublished writings by Prager and other writers. The second significant portion of this collection is composed of documents relating to the life and work of artist and pioneer leatherman Chuck Arnett; along with a small cache of correspondence Arnett wrote in the 1960s are tapes and transcripts of interviews Prager conducted with individuals who knew Arnett.


    The collection is divided into 4 series: :
    1. Correspondence
    2. Gay Authors Research and Writings
    3. Chuck Arnett Project Research
    4. Audio-Visual

    Related Material at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

    Title: Chuck Arnett Paintings
    Identifier/Call Number: 1997-42
    Title: Chuck Arnett Artifacts and Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: 1999-10
    Title: David Barnard Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: 1998-07
    Title: Kerry Bowman Papers and Ambush Records
    Identifier/Call Number: 1998-30
    Title: William Ewing Photo Album
    Identifier/Call Number: 1995-14