The UNT Special Collections 2017 Research Fellowship Awardee - Wesley G. Phelps

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The University of North Texas Libraries invite applications for the 2017 UNT Special Collections Research Fellowship. Research in special collections is relevant to studies in a variety of disciplines including history, journalism, political science, geography, fine art, art history and American studies. We encourage applicants to think creatively about new uses for special collections. Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate the greatest potential for publication and the best use of special collections at UNT Libraries.

The UNT Special Collections 2017 Research Fellowship Awardee

Dr. Wesley G. Phelps

Project Title

Before Lawrence v. Texas: Legal Challenges to Texas Sodomy Laws, 1867-2003

Project Description

This book project will investigate legal challenges to Texas sodomy laws before the landmark 2003 Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which finally invalidated all remaining state sodomy laws in the United States. I will pay particular attention to the ways in which gays, lesbians, and their allies struggled to develop legal, political, and educational strategies based on privacy, due process, and equal protection under law.


Wesley G. Phelps received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Texas and his Ph.D. in history from Rice University. He is currently an assistant professor of history at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where he teaches courses on recent United States history, the American South, and LGBTQ history. His first book, A People’s War on Poverty: Urban Politics and Grassroots Activists in Houston, was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2014. His current research focuses on gay and lesbian political activism in the late twentieth century.