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Finding aid of the Janus Society Records

Finding aid prepared by Loni Shibuyama, © 2008

Summary Information

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
Janus Society of America
Janus Society records
Collection no.
Date [inclusive]
0.1 linear foot.
Meeting minutes, bylaws and constitution, correspondence, notes, printed ephemera and other records from the Janus Society of America (also known as Janus Society of Delaware Valley), a Philadelphia-based homophile organization founded in 1962. The Janus Society was an influential group of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, which was considered more politically aggressive than other homophile groups of that era. The Janus Society was active in the years 1962 to 1969, and its regular activities included public lectures, community services, protests and demonstrations, and publishing its monthly magazine, Drum.

Preferred Citation

Janus Society Records, Coll2008-027, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

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Administrative History

In 1961, a group of Philadelphia-based gay and lesbian activists began meeting on a regular basis with the intention of forming a local chapter of the national homophile organization, the Mattachine Society. After not receiving official recognition as a Mattachine Society chapter, the group renamed itself the Janus Society of Delaware Valley. Founded in 1962, the Janus Society was an influential, Philadelphia-based homophile organization that remained active until 1969. Janus featured participation and leadership by lesbians, bisexuals and gay men; published Drum, the most widely circulated homophile magazine of the 1960s; and developed political positions that were among the most militant, radical and sexually liberated in the LGBT movement of its era. Recognizing its growing national visibility, the organization again renamed itself the Janus Society of America in 1964. Mae Polakoff served as the president of Janus in its first two years. Her successor was Clark P. Polak, who started  Drum and who was partially responsible for taking the Janus Society in a more politically aggressive and outspoken direction. Polak's personality and outside pornography businesses led to increased scrutiny of law enforcement on Polak and other Janus Society members. In 1969, Polak was arrested on federal obscenity charges and subsequently relocated to California. Following his arrest, the Janus Society ended its operations in 1969.

Source: Stein, Marc. "Janus Society." Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America. 3 vols. Marc Stein, Ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons: Thomson Gale, 2003. 93-95.

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Scope and Content of Collection

This collection comprises the Janus Society's constitution and bylaws, minutes from board of directors and business meetings, correspondence, notes and printed ephemera. The materials are dated from the 1960s, during and before the Janus Society's official years of operation. Correspondence with Clark P. Polak is also included in this collection.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
© 2008
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, California, 90007
(213) 821-2771


The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Publication Rights

Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).

Acquisition Information

Donor and date of acquisition unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, June 5, 2008.

Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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Related Materials

Related Material

Clark P. Polak Papers, Coll2008-028, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Janus Society of America
  • Janus Society of Delaware Valley
  • Janus Society


  • Gay and lesbian rights
  • Gay rights
  • Gays--History--Pennsylvania
  • Gays--Services for
  • Gays--United States
  • Homosexuality--History--Pennsylvania
  • Homosexuality--United States
  • Lesbian rights
  • Lesbians--Services for

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

 Constitution and Bylaws Undated 

1 1

 Correspondence 1966 - 1969 

1 2

 Form Letters 1965 - 1969 

Box Folder

 Drum Magazine Subscribers 1966 - 1969 

1 3

 General Membership circa 1965 - 1969 

1 4
Box Folder

 Meeting Minutes 1961 - 1964 

1 5

 Memo on the Janus Society Board Meeting 1964 

1 6

 Pamphlet Undated 

1 7

 The Jenkins Affair Undated 

1 8

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