Starr Research Award Winner: Austin Williams

Award winner Austin R. Williams (right) poses with David Weeda in front of Kansas City LGBT Historical Marker, erected in October 2016.

Congratulations to Austin R. Williams, UMKC PhD Student and winner of the 2017 Martha Jane Starr Library Research Award!

Williams won a $1000 award to help complete his research for two separate but related projects. The first, his dissertation, focuses on the efforts of Kansas City activists, volunteers, and politicians to pass anti-discrimination legislation in the late 1980s and 1990s, while the second is an oral history project titled Responding to AIDS: Kansas City (1981-1995).

Williams used his award to fund a trip to Maine to visit and interview David Weeda, an activist in the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP/KC) and co-founder of the Human Rights Ordinance Project. He also traveled to New York, where he visited The New York Public Library to study the official records of the New York chapter of ACT UP.

“My time spent at the New York Public Library was a researcher's dream come true,” Williams said, “and the information I gathered from Mr. David Weeda is beyond anything I could have hoped for.”

Much of Williams’ research was pulled from the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid-America (GLAMA) at LaBudde Special Collections, so one of his goals for his East Coast trip was to help explain how sources kept at GLAMA fit into a larger national context.

Williams’ oral history project and much of his research will be added to the GLAMA collection, and available for reference and study by others interested in LGBTQIA history.


In 2016 The UMKC Libraries won a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant, which established a small endowment to award one UMKC graduate student each year with an award for research using the LaBudde Special Collections for research in women and gender studies. You can learn more about the award here