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Finding aid of the Clark P. Polak Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Clark P. Polak papers
    Dates: 1964-1980
    Collection number: Coll2008-028
    Creator: Polak, Clark P., 1937-1980
    Collection Size: 1 archive carton. 0.2 linear feet.
    Repository: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
    Los Angeles, California 90007
    Abstract: 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.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    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).

    Preferred Citation

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

    Acquisition Information

    Donor and date of acquisition unknown.

    Processing Information

    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.


    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.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    ACLU of Southern California Lesbian & Gay Rights Chapter
    Gay activists
    Gay liberation movement--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
    Gay liberation movement--California--Los Angeles
    Janus Society
    Janus Society of America
    Janus Society of Delaware Valley
    Polak, Clark P., 1937-1980
    Stonewall Democratic Club

    Related Material

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