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Finding aid of the Janus Society Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Janus Society records
    Dates: 1961-1969
    Collection number: 2008-027
    Creator: Janus Society of America
    Collection Size: 1 archive carton. 0.1 linear foot.
    Repository: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
    Los Angeles, California 90007
    Abstract: 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.
    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

    Janus Society Records, Coll2008-027, 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 5, 2008.
    Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

    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.

    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.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Drum: sex in perspective
    Gay and lesbian rights
    Gay rights
    Gays--Services for
    Gays--United States
    Homosexuality--United States
    Janus Society
    Janus Society of America
    Janus Society of Delaware Valley
    Lesbian rights
    Lesbians--Services for

    Related Material

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