It started as a dream

Submitted by bobproct on

It Started as a Dream


By Dave Fisher, ANRL (2003)

The name of Jayne Bernard authored many, many articles and stories for over forty years echoing an enthusiastic love of the nudist lifestyle. She was well known by that name but in actuality it was Jayne Schuster, wife of Reed Schuster, nearing retirement from California public education in the year 1979. Before calling an end to her career, Jayne wanted desperately to fulfill a dream she had long been incubating. To quote from a letter, she wrote, “… to gather together a nudist library consisting of books, magazines, pamphlets, and/or brochures. I have toyed with the idea of an oral history. This material would eventually be placed at the disposal of nudists researching the history of the movement in the United States.”

That idea, sprouting into action in late 1978, set off a sequence of events that ultimately converted itself from a proud collection of otherwise discarded material numbering in the hundreds into a well established and respected non-profit corporate organization with archived materials numbering into the high thousands.

To better observe how this dream was accomplished, it is an interesting story to follow the beginnings that nurtured the seed and the first sprouting of its life.

The Schusters planned to retire into permanent residence at Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. After explaining their objectives and hopeful means of obtaining a start in the collection of nudist material, they obtained agreement from the owners, Jim and Lyda (Pete) Hadley, to have any material they obtained sent to Cypress Cove. Thus, throughout the fall, winter and spring of 1978–1979, Jayne and Reed Schuster wrote to their friends and made numerous trips to California nudist parks to collect nudist materials that would hopefully make up the collection of the then hoped for library. They soon found, and consequently saved from ultimate decimation, a whopping seventy cartons of material which they sent back to Kissimmee.

After returning to Florida it wasn’t long before the Hadleys, in full agreement with Jayne’s dream, helped the library proposal to become a reality and to really take physical and organizational shape. Legal counsel was solicited to establish the new organization. The Hadleys proved space in the end of their 1979 club house. It was small but air conditioned and carpeted. Shelving and other necessary material were obtained to allow a beginning of inventorying and cataloging all the material the Schusters had collected. Immediately, more material donations were received from the Hadleys and other nearby nudists.

It is interesting to note that some funds needed to start thing off were by the assignment of Cove bingo money from their weekly activity at the time. This was generously supplemented by the Schusters themselves through the advancement of additional funds.

The attorney, Charles Holcomb, came by with the good news that the Florida Secretary of State approved the Articles of Incorporation of the new “American Nudist Research Library”, a non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation of nudist history through archiving all material related to nudism and naturism. The date, the 6th day of September, 1979.

Jim Hadley became the first life member of the new Library with a donation of $500. Reed Schuster was not far behind Jim, also becoming a life member. Later, a visit was made to Alois Knapp (one of our nudist pioneers, now in failing health) who also donated some early nudist material and he was given an Honorarium Membership. Such honors were also bestowed on some of the first dedicated volunteers. An open-house party was quickly arranged, so on September 10th, thirty people dodged a heavy rainstorm to help welcome and congratulate the new establishment.

Thus, the start was made for a valuable addition to the nudist culture. Slowly, at first, but through additional material input from the Schusters and an ever-growing receipt of items from around the country, the Library grew in size and reputation. The new specialized Library sprouted into its current status as the world’s only library of its size, archiving roughly 7,000 titles of magazines, many hundreds of books, videos and memorabilia related to nudism and naturism, files containing newsletters, articles and information on hundreds of nudist clubs and organizations in the U.S., Canada and many other countries of the world.

The growth, from its beginning in the club house of Cypress Cove, in only four years called desperately for more space. The Hadleys again helped out by constructing a separate building to better house these treasured on their grounds. A separate and fine air conditioned and carpeted facility emerged. That growth continued until in 1996 the existing building was doubled in size to keep up with the growing donated inventory of nudist and naturist related material. Even since then, modifications have continued to increase storage space and allow better access and research room.

The Library is now known world wide, maintains its own and growing web site, and answers many requests from e-mails, correspondence and phone. It affords visits from researchers and authors from not only the U.S., but Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as well as some of the other countries of the world. It is a welcome stopover for club and organizational representatives who take advantage of much of its historical data. All this is run as a non-profit organization solely by dedicated unpaid volunteers.

Special tribute is paid to its Presidents
President In Office
Read Schuster 1979–1982 (President Emeritus)
T.H. Latimer 1982–1985
Eileen Farrell 1985–1992
James E. Harris 1992–1996
Frances (Dot) Purcell 1996–2002
Helen Fisher 2002–2005
John Frakes 2005–2006
Helen Fisher 2006–2009
Edward Waller 2009–2014
David W. Graber 2014-