History of the Professors & Researchers SIG

This article appeared in Nude & Natural 28.2 (Winter 2008), p. 83.

Professors & Researchers SIG Goes Online
by Paul LeValley

    I was aware that special interest groups of The Naturist Society periodically wax and wane in their effectiveness.  I was surprised, however, at the Mid-Winter Naturist Festival, when Nicky Hoffman Lee informed us that, at that particular moment, the Professors & Researchers SIG was the largest and most active of them all.  Largest?  Well, we do have over 40 members.  But most active?  I suppose the fat electronic newsletter goes out on time, and cumulatively over the years, we have accomplished quite a lot.

    In fact, at that same Mid-Winter meeting, some members suggested it was time to put the research documentation we have compiled online, and make it available to others.  That caused a debate among the SIG.  Should we just post our newsletters online?  Our tenured and retired members said, “Sure.  We have nothing to hide.”  But some of our younger and less established members voiced a very real concern about not putting anything on the internet that they didn’t want a prospective employer to read.  Others pointed out that the newsletter has become a place where we can speak freely and confidentially, without worry about posterity and the whole world eavesdropping; we wouldn’t want to lose that.  Also, information that appeared in driblets over several newsletters can now be pulled together on the web site and kept up to date.

    Without a consensus, we are keeping the newsletter among SIG members.  At the same time, we could agree on posting our major compilations at www.paullevalley.com/sig.  There is also a link on The Naturist Society web site.  I have, on a couple of occasions, been called an elitist for not letting people into the group who were neither professors nor researchers.  Now upcoming researchers can find the information they need to establish their credentials, and be welcomed into the SIG.

    Documents on the new site include:

    ●  Visionary colleges
    ●  Nudity-related dissertations, projects, and exams
    ●  Campus streaking
    ●  The 2003 AANR Youth Camp controversy
    ●  Collected internet writings of David Goines
    ●  Marvin Frandsen’s annotated bibliography for legal defense
    ●  Several other bibliographies, grouped by author or subject

A bit of history

    In 1999, Mark Storey organized the College Instructors SIG.  He expressed the hope that college professors could support one another in naturist-related research projects--something that has still not happened.  The group immediately attracted a respectable number of professors and got out a couple of newsletters before the contact URL quit working, and the SIG went dormant.

    I thought this was too good an idea to die.  Since Mark’s time was increasingly going into research on early nudist movies, I agreed to take on the leadership in 2002.  At the same time, the revived SIG expanded to also include serious researchers and writers on nudity-related subjects, who did not happen to teach.  The group now consists (in about equal numbers) of:

    ●  Researchers and writers on nudity, who do not teach
    ●  Professors of subjects far removed from their naturist lifestyle
    ●  Professors of subjects that involve some study of nudity

    We have professors of everything from astronomy, to mushrooms, to music, to religion, to art history.  We have librarians, computer wizards, and rocket scientists.  We have leaders in The Naturist Society and the American Association for Nude Recreation.  We have members in the Caribbean, Canada, Europe, and Australia.  It is good to have the intellectuals in this movement talking with each other.  Besides lively discussion through the newsletter, some members also consult with each other on matters of shared interest.

    Much of our work has been in archiving significant electronic documents of passing news before they vanish.  Another strength is in compiling bibliographies of printed articles related to nudity.  Many of those articles were written by members of this SIG.

    The SIG has long been pushing to make the resources of the American Nudist Research Library in Florida available to serious researchers, wherever they may live.  Those of us who also belong to AANR have been lobbying our regions to contribute generously to the library’s digitizing program.

    With less success, several SIG members have been pushing for lower student fees in The Naturist Society and the Midwestern and Canadian regions of AANR.  Our work is far from done.

    If you are already a college teacher, or have conducted nudity-related research, we want you in the SIG.  Please contact us.  Or if you just want to read some good reports and learn where to find more, visit the new web site.

This article appeared in Nude & Natural 32.2 (Winter 2012), p. 60.

Professors & Researchers SIG Moves Its Web Site
by Paul LeValley

    The Professors & Researchers Special Interest Group has outgrown its web site, and moved to a URL all its own: www.tnsprofessorsig.org.  The SIG began in 1999, and has been doing serious archiving since 2002.  The web site went up in the fall of 2008 in free space I was not using on my own site.  After just four years, increased traffic exceeded available bandwidth, so a move became necessary.

    Compiling bibliography is what this SIG does best.  In the first year the site was up, 43% of users went there to learn where articles on naturist topics could be found.  After all, members of the SIG had written many of those articles.  There are also specialized bibliographies, such as books commonly available in public libraries, nudity in India, Greek athletics, or Marvin Frandsen's compilation of case studies useful in legal defense.  The percentage of viewers going to the bibliography pages has dropped over the years as we added other attractions, but their numbers have probably remained constant.

    Archiving of important nudist documents is another function of the SIG.  When a furor erupted over the AANR Youth Camps in 2003, we recognized a need to preserve some very fine defenses of family naturism before they disappeared from the Internet.  As the controversy dragged out, we devoted whole issues of our newsletter to youth camps in 2003, 2004, and 2008.  Surprisingly, interest in the topic has grown over the years—partly because it is not available anywhere else.  (AANR has stopped publicizing its camps, so that parents no longer know they continue.)  More people came to the youth camp page in 2012 when we published another special issue of documents on the Quaker Farm and Wilderness Camps in Vermont, that recently ended decades of nudity.  There was also fresh information on Linda Shockley, the California girl who started regional nudist youth camps back in 1964.

    Use of the web site varies by season.  In summer, people reminisce about their camping experience.  In spring, their thoughts turn to college streaking.  That was a hot topic in 2005, when we devoted a whole issue to phenomena like the Hamilton College Varsity Streaking Team.

    When SIG member David Goines died in 2004, we rescued his many Internet writings before they vanished.

    The SIG has also compiled a few historic beach documents, such as the priest complaining in 1595 that Indians at Playalinda Beach were not properly dressed.  Or consider Jacques Lemoyne's engraving of a native family skinny-dipping up the coast thirty years earlier.  Talk about traditional family values!

    With the emergence of Naturally FSU in late 2009, we put up a page on officially recognized campus nudist organizations over the years.  So far, we have discovered six of them founded at California State University-Northridge 1973, Rice 1985, University of Pennsylvania 1994, University of Texas-Austin 1995, University of Toronto 1998, and Florida State University 2009.

    That and a 2011 page on non-campus umbrella groups for young adults (like Vita Nuda and Florida Young Naturists) brought more students to the web site.  We have become the place where they find about college nudist opportunities, such as scholarships.  This is also where they can dream about visionary colleges that allow nudity in the future.  A recent example is Will Forrest's novel, Co-Ed Naked Philosophy.

    On an average day, about twenty people come to the Professors & Researchers site.  A persistent problem is that too many of them come on a Google-type search, find exactly what they wanted—then leave without looking around at all of the other marvelous stuff we have to offer.  Links from the Naked Truth Naturists and the Academic Naturist blog bring us visitors with greater curiosity.

    To preserve members' privacy, not everything in the SIG newsletter appears on the web site—only those items useful to other researchers.  From the current newsletter come further details about nude Boy Scout troop 66, who made page 1 headlines across the country in 1977.  Future plans include writings of Lee Baxandall in his pre-Naturist Society days.

    We have nearly 60 members.  If you are a professor or a researcher, come and join the conversation.  But everybody can check out all the good information at www.tnsprofessorsig.org.

Return to the SIG home page.