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Thomas H. Wirth, a noted gay scholar and archivist, has died. Wirth, 76, died of respiratory failure on October 10, 2014, at the Overlook Medical Center, Summit, New Jersey.
[….] Tom was an independent scholar of African-American literature, history, and art, with a concentration on the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. He founded the Thomas H. Wirth Collection of African-American Americana at Chicago State University and contributed significant materials to Yale and to Emory University.
Tom was born on Jan. 6, 1938, in Fargo, N.D., and lived with his family there and in Worthington (Columbus), Ohio, and Syracuse, N.Y. He earned a B.S. in chemistry at Cornell in 1959 and a Ph.D. from Cal Tech in 1964. He joined the faculty of the historically black South Carolina State College (now University), where he taught for five years, and taught at Southern University and at Mary Holmes Junior College. In 1971, Tom joined the faculty of the new Richard Stockton State College at Atlantic City, N.J. He was an organizer and founding president of Local 2274 of the American Federation of Teachers there and became the senior staff representative for the consortium of locals that negotiates and administers the statewide faculty contract. He held that position for 25 years, retiring in 2000. Tom met, and became the heir of, Richard Bruce Nugent, a writer and artist who was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance. In collaboration with Mr. Nugent, he founded the Fire!! Press, which publishes a reproduction of FIRE!!, a landmark Harlem Renaissance publication to which Mr. Nugent contributed, and has published books by African-American writers. Tom edited a book of selections from Mr. Nugent’s work, “Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance” (Duke, 2002) and Mr. Nugent’s novel, “Gentlemen Jigger” (De Capo, 2008).
Wirth was the executor of Richard Bruce Nugent‘s literary estate. Nugent one of the few African-American writers of the Harlem Renaissance who willing indicated “his homosexuality in print.”