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Cal Yeomans Collection

Identifier: MS Group 261

Scope and Content

The Cal Yeomans Collection is comprised of play and multi-media scripts (in various rewrite stages), poetry, prose, notes, personal and professional correspondence, reviews, newspaper clippings, family papers, personal and exhibit photographs, ephemera, journals, audio recordings, financial records and business correspondence. The oldest items in the collection, particularly family photographs, date from the late 19th Century and the early 20th Century (found in Vada Allen Yeomans' pre-1950 photograph albums) and the most recent items from 2001 (the year of Cal Yeomans' death). However, the bulk of material was collected and saved by Cal Yeomans during his lifetime (1938 - 2001) including all Allen and Yeomans family historical and genealogical ephemera and Crystal River and Central Florida history.

Cal Yeomans was a prolific letter writer and his correspondents include Ellen Stewart (Founder of the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City); Eric Garber (aka "Andrew Holleran" - novelist, essayist and short story writer); Robert Chesley (playwright, theatre critic and composer); composers Boyd McDonald and Ned Rorem; actors Pat Bond, Dana Ivey and Grainger Hines; artists Michael Haykin, Egle Gatins, Rosser Shymanski, Raiford Ragsdale and Vance Hendrix; and photographer Mark I. Chester. The collection also includes extensive correspondence with Cal Yeomans' artistic collaborators, friends and family dating from childhood until his passing in 2001.


The FAMILY HISTORY and FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS comprise an eclectic perspective of the Allen (maternal) and Yeoman families including the personal and public lives of his mother and father. The bulk of this material was left to Cal Yeomans after the death of his mother in the mid 1980s. The BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION - CAL YEOMANS and PHOTOGRAPHS OF CAL YEOMANS groups include childhood, school, career and social ephemera and photographs pertaining to the life of Cal Yeomans. The individual folders also highlight ephemera collected by Cal Yeomans including material of personal interest (Gay Issues, Gay Theatre, HIV/AIDS, etc.), locales (NYC; Gainesville, FL; Center, FL; Key West; San Francisco; Amsterdam; etc.) and extensive promotional and background information on each of his produced plays, publications, readings, lectures and photo exhibits.

The JOURNALS, CORRESPONDENCE and PHOTOGRAPHS OF FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES groups offer a concise and colorful view of Cal Yeomans' private and public life. His prolific journal output and letters, along with his efforts to preserve all aspects of his life, create a vivid picture of family, friends, his chosen fields of endeavor, the world of show business, his professional colleagues, and the horrific impact of his emotional problems and his physical decline (with a backdrop of the gay community and the world-wide HIV/AIDS epidemic of the late 20th Century). The correspondence (to and from Cal Yeomans) is filed alphabetically (chronologically arranged within multiple folders) under the correspondent's name. Each correspondent is represented, if material is available, by a folder of BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION (following the collected correspondence folders).

The artistic side of Cal Yeomans is expressed through his collected SCRIPTS, POETRY, PROSE, EXHIBIT PHOTOGRAPHS, REEL TO REEL AND CASSETTE RECORDINGS and NOTES. Each play, dating back to the early 1960s (including the undated "first play" - There Ain't No Lemonade), is filed alphabetically by title and preserved in multiple stages of the creative process, including handwritten revisions and notes. His groundbreaking and controversial gay theatre productions of the 1970s and 1980s (Richmond Jim, Sunsets, etc.) are represented with correspondence, promotional ephemera and reviews. The POETRY and PROSE of Cal Yeomans date back to his childhood days and present a creative, thoughtful, sensitive, honest, sometimes angry, and often graphic mind at work. Each individual item is filed alphabetically and dated (if known) and includes handwritten revisions, notes and comments by Cal Yeomans. A single box of NOTES contains 4 folders of random ideas, thoughts, phrases, jottings, and fragments written on scraps of paper, envelopes, etc., and filed in no particular order. Yeomans wrote these notes to be used in future writings, readings, lectures and various projects and were found throughout the unprocessed collection.

The work of CAL YEOMANS - PHOTOGRAPHER (EXHIBIT PHOTOGRAPHS) is organized into Color and Black and White, as well as regular size and oversize (too large for the standard archival boxes). These exhibit photographs include still life, nature and travel studies, but are primarily male nudes (Filed under the specific name of the photo model - unless the name of the model is labeled "Unidentified"). Due to privacy concerns, restrictions have been placed on many of the images (See ACCESS AND USE RESTRICTIONS). Along with the Oversize photographic items, a number of Oversize journals and ephemera have been placed in labeled Oversize boxes and this designation is clearly noted throughout this descriptive guide.

REEL TO REEL AND CASSETTE RECORDINGS have been collected into a single box and include recorded reading and lecture rehearsals, recorded public lectures and readings presented by Cal Yeomans (c. 1970-91), recorded telephone messages left on Cal Yeomans' answering machine (1987-89), the Memorial Service for Bobby Redfern (Owner of the Curry House in Key West), six cassette taped interviews with Ernest Mickler (1988) and miscellaneous readings and reminiscences recorded by Cal Yeomans (circa 1971-95).


  • Creation: 1938-2001



Due to privacy concerns, the following Journals (Boxes 56, 57, 58 and 59), Correspondence (Boxes 60, 61 and 62) and Photographs (Boxes 63, 64, 65 and 66) have been restricted and closed until further notice. The dates for the boxes listed above are noted in the finding aid. For more information, please speak with the Collection Curator or Archivist.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lee Calvin "Cal" Yeomans, who described himself as "... a playwright, poet [and] image-maker who found his place," was born in Ocala, Florida on June 13, 1938 and raised in Crystal River, Florida. He was the son of Lee Columbus "L.C." Yeomans, a respected Central Florida businessman (owner of the Miller Point Fish Company and the Regent Movie Theatre in Crystal River) and a powerful Florida legislator. His mother, Vada Allen Yeomans, was a school teacher, business woman and, in the words of Cal Yeomans, "a feminist before her time." Vada's ancestral roots ran deep in Florida history as the great-granddaughter of Citrus County settler John Earl Allen.

Cal Yeomans attended Florida State University (1956-1961) as a business major, but was instinctively drawn to the campus theatre scene and to a variety of summer stock companies throughout the United States. He eventually moved to New York City, without a degree, to study theatre with William Hickey at the HB Studio. In 1963, Cal Yeomans' artistic muse led to a "theatre job" in Atlanta (The Pocket Theatre) where he also worked as a model for the Fashion Institute of America, as a department store window designer and as a teacher of fashion design at Massey College. By 1971, he was back in New York to work in various capacities with Ellen Stewart's La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (E.T.C.), but a series of nervous breakdowns derailed his career and aspirations in 1975. His slow recovery, extended hospitalization and diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenic severed his close ties to the New York theatre community and cast a doubt on his future.

In 1977, Cal Yeomans moved to San Francisco and began writing play scripts as a form of therapy and creative release. After leaving the West Coast and returning to Central Florida "for good this time [to] forget theatre" he was discovered "like Lana Turner" when his play, Richmond Jim (described by playwright and theatre critic, Robert Chesley, as "The first genuinely gay play.") was produced by Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco and revived at the first NYC Gay Arts Festival. After receiving the Cable Car Award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama (1979), Yeomans followed up this success with Sunsets: A Beach Trilogy produced in 1981 by the Stonewall Repertory Theatre in NYC and by the 544 Natoma Performance Gallery in San Francisco. The New York City production was later revived at the Third National Gay Arts Festival (Chicago, 1982).

Yeomans continued to write (plays, prose and extensive journals) as he focused his attention to the needs of his elderly mother and the family real estate properties in the mid 1980s. For the next 15 years, he expressed his artistic inspiration through poetry and photography producing a series of poetry collections and photo exhibitions (still life studies and male nudes). A number of his individual poems and photographs were reproduced in national publications during the 1980s and 1990s.

1n 1996, Yeomans discovered he had contracted AIDS and, for the remaining years of his life, he devoted his efforts to creating a personal and family legacy through a series of philanthropic activities. The Yeomans Nature Park in Crystal River, Florida, was established on 40 acres of land donated by Cal Yeomans in memory of his parents in 1997. Yeomans also established a number of endowment funds at the University of Florida in Gainesville including The Lee C. Yeomans Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Fellowship in the Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS), The Vada Allen Yeomans Professorship in Women's Studies at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and The Calvin Yeomans Special Collections Enrichment Fund for the George A. Smathers Libraries. Cal Yeomans died of heart failure on October 31, 2001.

For more information about Yeomans, please visit Robert Schanke's


39.25 Linear feet (66 boxes)

Language of Materials



Lee Calvin "Cal" Yeomans (1938-2001) was a playwright, poet, actor, artist, educator, lecturer, photographer, real estate investor, land developer and philanthropist who is considered a key contributor to the gay theatre movement of the 1970s and 1980s. The collection is comprised of play and multi-media scripts (in various rewrite stages), poetry, prose, notes, personal and professional correspondence, reviews, newspaper clippings, family papers, personal and exhibit photographs, ephemera, journals, audio recordings, financial records and business correspondence.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

In 1978, Cal Yeomans first contacted the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida with the intention of donating his papers for the purpose of research and the establishment of a "gay archives" (as mentioned in a November 1983 letter to a friend). In 1986, after years of discussions, the Cal Yeomans Collection (12 boxes) was accepted by Department of Special Collections representative Marcia Brookbank as a donation to be added to the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts.

Cal Yeomans also created an annual endowment for the George A. Smathers Libraries (The Calvin Yeomans Special Collections Enrichment Fund) and continued to negotiate additional donations (40 more boxes through the years) with the UF Smathers Libraries staff (Carmen Hurff, Bernard McTeague and John Ingram). He was a regular and familiar visitor to the Smathers Library Research Room until his death in 2001.

Related Material

The researcher may also be interested in the Ernest Matthew Mickler Papers found in the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. Ernest Mickler was the author of the book, White Trash Cooking, and a close friend of Cal Yeomans.

In September 1998, Cal Yeomans donated the "Yeomans Collection of Artifacts, Photographs and Archival Paper" (documenting his Central Florida family history) to the Citrus County Historical Society in Inverness, Florida. The researcher may access more information from the Citrus County Historical Society web page.

A Guide to the Cal Yeomans Collection
Finding aid created by Jim Liversidge
September 2009
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America