Holly Boswell Kindred Spirits Collection – M2019.08

Table of Contents 

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives
Holly Boswell Kindred Spirits Collection
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Linear feet
Description note
This collection contains Issues of Gender Quest from Spring 1998 to Autumn 2001, excerpts from writings on spirituality, and materials relating to the operation of Kindred Spirits including correspondence, meeting materials, financial documents regarding the organization’s status as a nonprofit, and materials relating to the construction of the Bodhi Tree House.
Location note
Located in Special Collections. Row 4, Section 7

[Identification of item], Holly Boswell Kindred Sprits Collection, Special Collections, Ramsey Library, UNC Asheville.

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Biographical Information

Holly Boswell (1950-2017) was a pioneering Trans activist, credited with being one of the earliest adopters of the term “transgender” and the creation of the transgender symbol. In 1986, Boswell co-founded the Asheville based Phoenix Transgender support group. In 1991, Boswell published The Transgender Alternative which is credited as one of the first uses of the term “Transgender”. Around this same time Boswell founded Kindred Spirits, a program of spiritual retreats for trans individuals, with the first retreat being held at the Sunnybank Inn, Hot Springs NC in 1993. Kindred Spirits attracted members from across the country, as well as Canada, for programs dealing with trans identity and trans spirituality. Kindred Spirits met annually until at least 2015, celebrating its 23rd annual meeting in September 2015. Between 1998 and 2001 Kindred Spirits operated a print newsletter called Gender Quest with an editorial focus on “Transgender Spirituality” and “Transgender cutting edge issues”. Gender Quest featured news of Kindred Spirits as well as writings and poetry from members addressing transgender identity. Kindred Spirits performed at the Southern Comfort Convention as the Kindred Spirits Traveling Medicine Show. Kindred Spirits would also build the Bodhi Tree House in Black Mountain for the purpose of hosting retreats. In 2017 Holly Boswell passed away at age 66 from heart failure in Asheville.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives

Ramsey Library, CPO # 1500
One University Heights
Asheville, North Carolina, 28804-8504

Access note

The collection is open for research.

Custodial History

Donated by Amanda Wray.

Accruals note

Additional accruals are not expected.

Processing Information

Processed by Michael Dennis, Fall 2023.

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Related Materials

Related to oral histories with Yvonne Cook-Riley and others, found in LGBTQIA+ Oral Histories.

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Collection Inventory

Box 1:

  • Folder 1: Kindred spirits annual meeting coordination
    • Contains letters sent by Boswell to participants ahead of Kindred Spirits retreats, detailing what to bring, schedule, attendees so far, and a warning about overt queerness in Hot Springs
  • Folder 2: Participant rosters:
    • Summary of attendees for 1992, 1996, 1998, and2006
  •  Folder 3: Gender and spirituality materials
    • Contains writings mostly by other authors concerning transgender spirituality
  •  Folder 4: Shamanism approached by Kindred spirits
    • Contains materials related to Native American events as well as a lengthy discussion between Kindred spirits over the use of the word Shaman
  • Folder 5: Gender Quest Newsletter – Spring 1998- Autumn 2001
  • Folder 6: Kindred Spirits financial documents
    • Contains receipts and tax documents relating to Kindred Spirits status as a non profit organization
  • Folder 7: Kindred Spirits emails
    • Contains printed copies of emails between Holly Boswell and other members of Kindred Spirits
  • Folder 8: Holly Boswell personal correspondence
    • Contains mostly letters written from Holly Boswell to Yvonne Cook Riley