Finding aid of the Clark P. Polak Papers
Table of Contents
Finding aid prepared by Loni Shibuyama, © 2008
- ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
- Polak, Clark P., 1937-1980
- Clark P. Polak papers
- Collection no.
- Date [inclusive]
- 0.2 linear feet.
- Correspondence, legal papers, notes, printed ephemera and other material from activist and businessman Clark P. Polak. Polak was an influential activist in the Philadelphia gay community throughout the 1960s, who in 1963 became president of the homophile organization, Janus Society. He also created, published and edited the Society's widely-circulated magazine, Drum. By 1970, Polak relocated to Los Angeles, where he became a real estate investor and art collector. In addition, he continued to be an activist in the gay movement and helped to establish the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Gay Rights Chapter of the ACLU.
Clark P. Polak papers, Coll2008-028, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Born on October 15, 1937, Clark Phillip Polak grew up in a Jewish middle-class family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After dropping out of Pennsylvania State University, Polak became a businessman and owner of Frankford Personnel and Northeast Advertising Service.
An active and outspoken member of the Philadelphia gay community, Polak joined the homophile group, Janus Society, in 1962, and was elected the organization's president in 1963. As Janus Society's president, he was largely responsible for building the Society's reputation as more politically aggressive, publicly visible and sexually liberated than other homophile groups of that period. In addition, he created, published and edited the Society's monthly magazine, Drum, one of the most widely circulated LGBT magazines in the 1960s.
Outside of the Janus Society, Polak continued to own publishing and book service businesses, which produced and distributed pornographic materials. Because of his businesses and his contentious personality, Polak often had confrontations with local law enforcement and subsequently moved to California after being arrested on federal obscenity charges in 1969. He relocated to Los Angeles where he became a real estate investor and art collector, and he continued to be activist in the gay community. In Southern California, he helped to establish the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Gay Rights Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
By the late 1970s, Polak developed problems with hustlers, drugs and money. He committed suicide in September 1980.
Source: Stein, Marc. "Polak, Clark." Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America. 3 vols. Marc Stein, Ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons: Thomson Gale, 2003. 388-389.
Scope and Content
This collection comprises correspondence, legal papers, notes, printed ephemera and other material created or collected by businessman and gay activist Clark P. Polak. The majority of the material dates in the 1970s and documents his activities in Los Angeles and its gay community, such as his participation in the Stonewall Democratic Club and the legal committee of the Gay Rights Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Also included are legal papers from his real estate investments and miscellaneous correspondence.
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, California, 90007
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
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).
Donor and date of acquisition unknown.
Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, June 6, 2008.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Janus Society Records, Coll2008-027, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California
Controlled Access Headings
- ACLU of Southern California Lesbian & Gay Rights Chapter
- Janus Society of America
- Janus Society of Delaware Valley
- Janus Society
- Stonewall Democratic Club (Los Angeles, Calif.).
- Polak, Clark P., 1937-1980
- Gay activists
- Gay liberation movement--California--Los Angeles
- Gay liberation movement--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
ACLU Gay Rights Chapter 1976 - 1977
ACLU Gay Rights Chapter Legal Committee 1976
Correspondence 1964 - 1980
Handwritten Notes Undated
Legal Papers - Real Estate 1976 - 1977
Stonewall Democratic Club & Gay Caucus Flyers 1977
Stonewall Democratic Club Correspondence 1977
Miscellaneous 1976 - 1979