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Allan Spear Papers

Identifier: Tretter-184

Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence, campaign and legislative materials, speaker's notes, publications, teaching and course materials, newspapers and news clippings, newsletters, photographs, diaries, day planners, films, slides, buttons, and awards . The diaries and memory books mostly date to before 1960, including early accounts from his childhood and education. Day planners cover 1974 to 2007. Collection materials fall into three main subject areas: personal materials, including childhood and travel; Teaching and Research; and Electrical Politics. Teaching and Research and Election materials are generally grouped together in the physical collection, which is reflected in the organization of the finding aid. Personal materials and gay content is interspersed throughout the collection, again reflected in the finding aid. Official legislative records can be found at the Minnesota Historical Society, though some unofficial material relating to GLBT- specific legislation can be found here.


  • Creation: 1937-2010


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Restrictions on Access

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Please contact staff regarding copyright status of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Biographical Sketch

Allan H. Spear was born Michigan City, Indiana in 1937. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1958 and earned an M.A.(1960) and a PhD from Yale University (1965). In 1965, Spear was hired in the History Department at the University of Minnesota to teach American and African American History. He continued to teach at the University while serving in the Minnesota Legislature.

Spear was elected to the Minnesota State Senate on the DFL ticket in 1972. He served in districts that were reapportioned, representing Hennepin County districts 57 (1973-1983), 59 (1983-1992), and 60 (1993-2000). Spear was elected the seventh President of the Minnesota Senate, holding office between 1993 and 2000, and was the first legislator who was not an attorney to chair the State Judiciary committee. He served on the State Crime Prevention Committee, State Board Council, and the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Boards.

On December 9th, 1974 Spear publicly announced that he was gay, becoming one of the first openly gay state legislators in the United States. As an openly gay public official, he was involved in a number of organizations and efforts working towards political, legal and social equity for the GLBT community. With State Representative Karen Clark, Spear co-founded The National Gay and Lesbian Elected and Appointed Officials. His leadership in the Minnesota Senate was instrumental in the passage of the 1993 Minnesota State Human Rights Act, which guaranteed protection from discrimination against gays and lesbians in education, housing, and employment in Minnesota

Spear retired from both the University and the Minnesota Senate in 2000. In 2008, the Minnesota Historical Society named him one of 150 Minnesotans who shaped the state.

Allan Spear died in 2008 following heart surgery. He is survived by his partner of more than 20 years, Junjiro Tsuji.


19 Linear Feet


The collection contains personal and professional correspondence, news articles, newsletters, campaign materials, photographs, films, publications, diaries, planners, awards, buttons and personal materials of Allan Spear, documenting Spear's early years, career as a faculty member in the History Department at the University of Minnesota, and as a state senator and gay politician in Minnesota.

Source of acquisition

Donated by the estate of Allan Spear, 2009 and 2013.

Related Materials

For legislative records relating to Spear's time in office see:

Allan H. Spear; An Inventory of His Legislative Records (Manuscript Collection) 1972-2000 at the Minnesota Historical Society

Allan Spear Papers, 1937-2010
Veronica Olson, Susan Hoffman, and Andrea Hoff
July 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Jean Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies Collecting Area