Phil Zwickler Charitable and Memorial Foundation
c/o Caren Levine
May 13, 2014
I am writing to express my deepest gratitude for the Phil Zwickler Memorial Research Grant,
which enabled me to review documents in the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University.
The sources I uncovered in the HSC have been central to my dissertation-in-progress, both anchoring
several chapters and pointing toward a number of highly promising avenues for further research.
As a PhD candidate in American Studies at Yale, my research centers on 20th century United States
history, sexuality studies, gender and women’s history, and the study of market culture. Combining
these interests, my dissertation examines the cultural history of sexual commerce in United States
from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s, focusing especially on adult industry entrepreneurs'
lobbying efforts, grassroots mobilization, and cultural politics.
With the support of the Phil Zwickler Charitable and Memorial Foundation Trust, I was able to comb
through the HSC's remarkable holdings related to the history of erotic representations and the history
of sex toys. Particularly valuable were H. Lynn Womack's papers. The records of a mail-order entrepreneur
who sold, among other things, erotic depictions of men, Womack's papers are unparalleled in their
documentation of the changing product lines, advertising strategies, and political meanings of gay
male erotic goods in the 1960s and 1970s. These records are now a basis for my chapter on the cultural
politics of male prostitution and gay pornography in the era of gay liberation.
Equally helpful to my work are Dell Williams' papers, whose Eve's Garden was found in 1974 as the
first feminist sex toy business in the United States. While reviewing her papers as the HSC,
I learned more about the complex feminist sexual politics that inspired Williams to open Eve's Garden.
Research in this collection now stands at the center of a chapter on gender politics and feminist
entrepreneurship in the 1970s sex industries.
Thank you for your support, both of my own work and of the dozens of other scholars of sexuality
you have funded over the past 14 years.
Devin McGeehan Muchmore
PhD candidate in American Studies