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Robert Wood papers, 1891-2018.

 Collection
Identifier: MS4704

Scope and Contents

This collection focuses on Rev. Wood's life as an advocate for LGBT rights, particularly regarding marriage equality and military service, while also including some his work as a United Church minister. Additionally, the collection includes materials from conferences and seminars, correspondences, personal information, publications, writings and some audio and visual material. The collection also includes photographs, professional and personal papers of Wood's husband, Hugh M. Coulter (1919-1989). Also included in the collection is some writings of Wood's friend C. Edward Egan, Jr., a gay Methodist minister. Unlike Wood, Egan did not have the support of his denomination. When Egan’s health started failing in the late 1980s, he sent Wood some of his writings and their shared correspondence.

Dates

  • 1891-2018

Creator

Restrictions on Access

This collection is unrestricted and open to the public unless otherwise noted, as is the case with some of the cassettes.

Biographical Information

Robert Watson Wood was born on May 21, 1923 in Youngstown, Ohio. He served as an infantryman during World War II and after recovering from battle wounds returned to the University of Pennsylvania. While there he received a bachelor's degree in economics in 1948. In 1951, he graduated from Oberlin Seminary and was ordained by the Congregational Church at Fair Haven, Vermont. Reverend Wood's life work was as a pioneer in homosexual rights and advocacy, especially within religious institutions. In 1960, he wrote the ground-breaking book "Christ and the Homosexual" which he not only published under his own name, but included his photograph on the dust jacket and listed the name of his parish. This decision came at a time when few advocates were willing to risk the reprisal, condemnation, or backlash that came with publicly acknowledging their homosexuality. Wood was vocal on the topic of gay rights in many different settings such as within the United Church of Christ, within Christianity in general, in the political arena and on local and national news outlets. Wood’s voluminous writings, many of which can be found in the collection, demonstrate his dedication and tenacity sustained over five decades of work on behalf of homosexual rights and religious tolerance. Robert Wood created a family with his life partner, artist Hugh "Buck" Coulter. They met in 1962 and the couple remained devoted to each other until Coulter’s death in 1989. During Reverend Wood's final years, he resided in a retirement community in New Hampshire.

Churches Served

Broadway Tabernacle (staff), New York, NY
1951-1953
First Church, Spring Valley, NY
1953-1965
Zion United Church of Christ, Newark, NJ
1965-1978
Union Congregational, Maynard, MA.
1978-1986

Extent

4.1 Cubic Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Robert Wood (1923-2018) was ordained as a United Church of Christ minister and was a pioneer in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) movement. Rev. Wood wrote a book, Christ and the Homosexual, which was published under his own name in 1960. This collection focuses on Rev. Wood's life as an advocate for LGBT rights, particularly regarding marriage equality and military service, while also including some his work as a United Church minister. Additionally, the collection includes materials from conferences and seminars, correspondences, personal information, publications, writings and some audio and visual material. The collection also includes photographs, professional and personal papers of Wood's husband, Hugh M. Coulter (1919-1989).

Arrangement

Records are divided into five topical series and nine topical sub-series.
Series 1: Personal and Career, 1891-2016
Series 2: Mass Media and Objects, 1892-2016
Subseries 1: Photographs, 1892-2016
Subseries 2: Objects, 1942-2004
Subseries 3: Books, 1950-2008
Subseries 4: Audio material, 1969-2002
Series 3: Correspondence, writing, and publicity, 1947-2018
Subseries 2: Content created by Robert Wood, 1947-2013
Subseries 1: Correspondence and news, 1947-2017
Subseries 3: Content about Robert Wood, 1960-2018
Series 4: Supporting Material, 1951-2015
Series 5: Conference and Seminars, 1962-1989

Technical Requirements

Digital surrogate audio files and compact disks must be used on a secured library device.

Acquisition Information

Collection donated by Robert Wood between 2004-2018. First accessioned in 2015, given accession number 2015-15.

Related Materials

Related collections include the Open and Affirming Coalition United Church of Christ’s Collection, 1969-2015, RG4924 and the Maynard, Mass. Union Congregational Church records, 1850-2017, RG5354.

Processing Information

Collection was first processed by Jessica Steytler in 2004. Additional material was added to the collection in May 2014 and October 2018 by Jessica Steytler, using DACS second edition. In December 2018, William McCarthy re-processed the collection.
Title
Robert Wood papers, 1891-2018.
Status
Completed
Author
Jessica Steytler, William McCarthy
Date
2018
Description rules
Dacs2 2013
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

Contact:
14 Beacon Street
Suite 200
Boston MA 02108
617-523-0470