Friends Book Sale: Enriched by the Generous Donation of Dr. Lewis Bosworth

March 16, 2022 By Molly Nortman, Student Coordinator for the Wisconsin Women Making History Project with the Office of the Gender and Women's Studies Librarian

“As a linguist by training I thrive on language – from bits like sounds to syllables to words to sentences and more complex structures.  This is the joy I wish to share; no rhyme or reason!”

Dr. Lewis Bosworth, photo credit UW Archives

Even after his death, Dr. Lewis Bosworth continues to share the joy he found in language, donating much of his personal collection of books to the Friends of UW–Madison Libraries. The collection will be featured as part of the Friends’ biannual used-book sale Wednesday, March 30 until Saturday, April 2, 2022, in room 124 of Memorial Library. The collection’s diversity reflects Dr. Bosworth’s areas of interest, including linguistics, Portuguese and French language and culture, travel, theater, art, religion – and especially LGBTQ+ studies, literature, and poetry. As an openly gay man, Bosworth lived a full life, blazing an inclusive trail in academia for others to follow. Now, many of his beloved books will be available for sale, with proceeds benefiting the UW–Madison Libraries.

Bosworth traveling, photo credit UW Archives

Bosworth began his academic career at UW–Madison, studying French in the early 1960s. His adventurous spirit led him to participate in the Junior Year Study Abroad program in Aix-en-Provence, France in 1962. That same year, the University stripped Bosworth of the funding he had been granted. Starting in the late 1940’s, UW–Madison began using homophobic pseudoscience to justify its persecution of gay men. For a generation, policies and procedures allowed officials to remove students perceived to be gay. During this time, the University intimidated and interrogated gay men who worked or studied there, compelling them to give up names of other gay men on campus to remove them from the campus. They revoked Bosworth’s funding because they suspected him of being gay, though he was never expelled because he refused to “confess.” While these policies affected hundreds of men, only two, including Bosworth, ever spoke publicly about their experiences.

His love of education transcended his experiences with prejudice. Bosworth graduated cum laude in 1964. He went on to earn his MA and Ph.D. in Romance linguistics from the University of Michigan. While there, he served as an instructor and Associate Chair of Foreign Languages from 1965 to 1969. He moved to Wesleyan University in Connecticut as an Assistant Dean and lecturer in French, before returning to UW–Madison in 1972. He served as Assistant, and then Associate Director of Undergraduate Orientation in the Office of New Student Services. When New Student Services merged with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Bosworth continued to hold the position of Associate Director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions until he retired in 2005.

Bosworth met his longtime partner, Terry Lee Allen, through a mutual friend at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. A fellow academic, Allen had a bachelor’s degree in French and Art from Carroll College (now Carroll University) as well as an MA in Art Restoration from Columbia University.

“It was definitely a ‘French connection’,’’ says Allen’s sister Barbara Koller. “They bonded through their love for the French language which led to traveling, particularly to Portugal, France, and New York City.” .

They were partners for many full and happy years, until Allen died from cancer in 1998

Bosworth was a poet as well as an academic. He started writing during his teenage years and went on to pen poems in French and Portuguese as well as English. As a retiree, he volunteered as a poetry instructor for PLATO (Participatory Learning and Teaching Organization), an organization run by and for senior citizens to facilitate lifelong learning and social interaction. He published four volumes of poetry in addition to having poems published in print and online journals, including “Hello Poetry”, “Poem Hunter”, and “Mad Poetry”.

Bosworth, photo credit UW Archives

As much joy as he found in language, Bosworth also found this joy in his community. An active member of Madison’s LGBTQ+ social scene, he tended bar at Rod’s Bar in the famous Hotel Washington complex. According to Assistant Director of Residence Life Scott Seyforth, “The Hotel Washington was a destination weekend in and of itself. With its multiple venues (four different bars, a disco, a music performance space, a restaurant, and hotel rooms) and a diverse crowd, it’s hard to adequately describe the importance of the Hotel to the LGBTQ+ community.” Bosworth edited Rod’s monthly newsletter from 1979 to 1989, which advertised upcoming events and drew people from surrounding states to the Hotel Washington venues. He was also a man of faith. He and Allen were active members at Luther Memorial Church. Bosworth had multiple roles, serving as first Sacristan – caring for the physical space of the church – and as Assisting Minister and Communion Deacon. He was open about his sexuality and worked hard to foster an inclusive environment within the church at the height of the AIDS crisis. According to Seyforth, “He’d be serving communion in the early 1990s wearing his pride ring necklace and his headband – not a usual sight in most Dane County churches.” He helped found the Luther Memorial Gay, Lesbian, and Friends Fellowship Group and took on a lead role in other inclusion efforts, such as allowing the Madison AIDS Support Network to hold meetings in the church.

Dr. Bosworth passed away on November 4, 2021.

“One of the remarkable things about Lewis is he persisted,” says Seyforth. “He was tenacious. He stayed with organizations that struggled with acceptance of LGBTQ+ folk and fought for inclusion. He returned to UW–Madison – the school that tried to kick him out for being gay in 1962 – and worked his career there while pressing for inclusion broadly.”

Dr. Bosworth’s donated collection will be featured in room 124 at the Friends Book Sale, ready to be bought, read, and cherished by a new generation of UW–Madison scholars.

The Friends of UW-Madison Libraries Spring Book Sale: March 30 – April 2, 2022

Wednesday, March 30: Preview Sale ($5 entry) 4:00-8:00 PM

Thursday and Friday, March 31 and April 1: Regular Sale 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM (no entry fee)

Saturday, April 2: $5 Bag Sale 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

From 1:05-2:00 p.m. the remaining books & items are free

Memorial Library, 728 State Street, Madison WI