Robert Wood papers, 1891-2018.
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.
- Wood, Robert Watson (Person)
Restrictions on Access
This collection is unrestricted and open to the public unless otherwise noted, as is the case with some of the cassettes.
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.
- Broadway Tabernacle (staff), New York, NY
- First Church, Spring Valley, NY
- Zion United Church of Christ, Newark, NJ
- Union Congregational, Maynard, MA.
4.1 Cubic Feet (8 boxes)
Language of Materials
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).
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
Digital surrogate audio files and compact disks must be used on a secured library device.
Collection donated by Robert Wood between 2004-2018. First accessioned in 2015, given accession number 2015-15.
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.
- Coulter, Hugh M.
- Egan, Clarence Edward, Dr., Jr.
- Gay activists.
- Gay clergy.
- Gay military personnel.
- Gay rights -- Religious aspects.
- Human rights -- Religious aspects -- Congregational churches.
- Leather lifestyle.
- Same-sex marriage.
- Sexual minorities.
- United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns
- War diaries.
- Wood, Robert Watson
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, Gay.
- Robert Wood papers, 1891-2018.
- Jessica Steytler, William McCarthy
- Description rules
- Dacs2 2013
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note