The 1936 national conference of the American Sunbathing Association nudist organization was held in Valparaiso, Indiana. At this event Elton Raymond Shaw, Lansing author, publisher and lecturer was elected president.
Born in Michigan about 1886, Shaw was a complex man. Highly religious, he published books on temperance and in 1909 authored a book concerning Jesusâ€™ three years of ministry The Man of Galilee. In 1900 we find him living with a widowed aunt and his cousins in Chicago, Illinois. He may have been orphaned. By 1910 he is married and living in Grand Rapids with his wife Mable (Bacon) and her parents. It is in Grand Rapids that he began the Shaw Publishing Company.
He returned to Illinois working as a minister and then a secretary for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In the mid 1930s, the Shaws and their three children came to Lansing. Elton served as Executive Secretary of the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce.
They lived at 222 W Main Street. Their home was a six bedroom English Tudor Revival with Arts and Crafts details and three fireplaces. Shaw Publishing occupied the third floor. Elton was president, his son Everett was vice president and his wife Mable secretary/treasurer.
In 1937 Elton published his book on nudism The Body Taboo: Itâ€™s Origins, Effects and Modern Denial. He authored this work in Lansing and published out of new offices in Washington D.C. The family soon moved. By 1938 they are no longer in the area. It not verified if they moved to D.C.
In a Lansing State Journal article dated August 24, 1936 Elton described when he first became interested in nudism. He explained the appeal began when he learned of the 1934 case of People vs. Ring . Shaw believed â€œfamed Kalamazoo nudist leader Fred Ringâ€ had received a â€œraw dealâ€ relating to his prosecution stemming from charges at an Allegan County nudist camp.
Lansing State Journal (August 24, 1936)
Lansing City Directories (1934-1938)
The Curse of Drink (1910) Edited by Elton R. Shaw
1900 U.S. Federal Census
1910 U.S. Federal Census
1920 U.S. Federal Census
1930 U.S. Federal Census
Photograph Courtesy of the Capital Area District Library Special Collections