The Schuster chronicles
Honoring Read and Jeannette Schusters' work through the Naked Age podcast
In 1979, retired schoolteachers and active nudists Read and Jeannette Schuster founded the American Nudist Research Library (ANRL) at Cypress Cove nudist resort in Kissimmee, FL. Their initial collection, primarily composed of hundreds of nudist magazines, soon grew into a monumental effort to record the histories of various nudist leaders and club owners worldwide. Their project, which involved extensive travel and interviews across the United States, lasted until Read’s passing in 1990, ultimately resulting in around two hundred taped volumes.
The Schusters’ deep involvement in the nudist movement, often under pseudonyms for publications, greatly contributed to their efforts. These tapes, a significant part of nudist history, offer first-person perspectives on events typically viewed through more detached mediums, like magazine articles. Unfortunately, due to the niche nature of the subject and the time-consuming process of reviewing and transcribing audio, much of this invaluable history remains largely untapped.
As a researcher and podcaster, I found immense inspiration in the Schusters’ work when I discovered it at ANRL. I credit their gumption to collect the records of historic nudists, limited by the technology of their time though it was, with inspiring my podcast, Naked Age. This series profiles remarkable individuals dedicated to a nude lifestyle, exploring themes of body acceptance, nudity as expression, and personal liberty. Each episode is meticulously researched, blending historical context with in-depth interviews, enhanced by music and sound design.
The Schusters’ expansive knowledge undoubtedly aided their interviews. In my process, thorough research is key to crafting insightful questions and providing a rich historical backdrop. The advancement in digital recording and editing tools allows for a continuation of the Schusters’ mission but with modern capabilities, making these histories more accessible and enduring. I first undertook the recording of interviews as a creative outlet during the Covid pandemic, as a way to use Zoom to be creatively productive when travel and in-person recording was not possible.
Both Read and Jeannette contributed greatly to the nudism movement and deserve their places in the annals of nudist history, but Jeannette Schuster’s contributions, in particular, were often overlooked and are worthy of note. Her story, including her role in establishing Sunny Rest Lodge, a pivotal nudist resort founded in 1945 in Pennsylvania, is a significant part of nudism’s history in America. Jeannette juggled multiple roles, including motherhood and managing Sunny Rest while Reed Suplee, her first husband, was often away.
After their divorce and her subsequent marriage to Read Schuster, she continued to impact nudism for more than 40 years, establishing Sunny Terraces in California in the 1950’s, and later ANRL. 🪐