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Rob Cole papers

 Collection
Identifier: Coll2009-019

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of materials relating to the life of Rob Cole, primarily his career as a newspaperman, and his association with the Christopher Street West Association.

Cole worked with three Los Angles-area GLBT newspapers, as News and Managing Editor of the Advocate (1970-1974), as unnamed contributor to the Forum of Southern California (1974), and as founder and editor of NewsWest (1975). The materials include correspondence, draft articles, subject files, and other documents that shed light on Cole's role as the first professional newspaperman to run a gay newspaper in Los Angeles, and the often contentious world of the Los Angeles gay press in the 1970s. The collection also contains issues of several newspapers, including, from Cole's days as a newspaper editor in Dallas, issues of the Dallas Times Herald and Dallas Morning News chronicling several significant events between 1962 and 1969, as well as the newsroom copy of the Advocate for 1967-1968. The print material is supplemented by a significant number of photographs published by or submitted to the Advocate, Forum, and NewsWest. The photographs published in and submitted to the Advocate derive from what is now the Advocate Records collection held by ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, and how they came into Cole's private possession is not known. The collection also contains Cole's typed notes and audiotapes of interviews for stories, most relating to the Metropolitan Community Church.

Cole's association with the Christopher Street West Association, of which he was a co-founder, is less fully documented. The records include a handbill announcing the first Christopher Street West parade in June 1970; minutes of the board of directors for 1975-1976 (including Cole's account of police harassment of spectators at the 1976 march); souvenir programs for 1974, 1976, and 1985; materials relating to the 1984 and 1985 public relations campaigns; documents from 1995 and 1996, when Cole was editor of the association's newsletter; videotapes, primarily from the 1980s; photographs, primarily from 2002-2004; and memorabilia.

The collection also contains a small amount of a material of a personal nature, including Cole's unpublished short stories from the 1950, as well as a series of subject files, audio recordings, and memorabilia.

The collection is arranged in nine series: (1) Newspapers, (2) Christopher Street West, (3) Subject Files, (4) Personal, (5) Printed Matter, (6) Photographs, (7) Graphics, (8) Audiovisual, and (9) Memorabilia.

Dates

  • 1950-2006 (bulk 1970-1985)
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1985

Creator

Access

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).

Biography

Frederick Robinson Cole was born in Dallas,Texas, on July 27, 1930. A self-described "loner", he suppressed his homosexuality until the September 1969, when, while on vacation in Los Angeles, he was introduced to the newly formed Metropolitan Community Church. The following year, after 15 years as an editor at the Dallas Times-Herald, he moved to Los Angeles and joined the Advocate as news editor, the first news professional to work at the paper. During his tenure, Cole transformed the paper from a local Los Angeles bar rag to a respectable newspaper with national news coverage. Cole not only assigned and edited stories, but often wrote them, covering serious issues such as conditions for gays in jails, psychiatric abuse, and gays in religion.

Cole served on the Advocate until mid-1971, when homesickness and conflicts with the owners convinced him to resign and return to his former job in Dallas. He returned to the Advocate in September 1971, but again resigned at the end of December 1973, after renewed conflicts with the owners. After working on the short-lived GLBT newspaper Forum of Southern California, he returned to the Advocate for the third and final time, as managing editor, in September 1974. The Advocate was purchased by David Goodstein late that same year. Although rumor suggested that Goodstein intended to retain him as editor, Cole was fired in late December 1974, being replaced by John Preston. Early the next year, Goodstein moved the offices of the Advocate to the San Francisco Bay area and refocused the paper on national affairs, arts and entertainment, virtually eliminating local Los Angeles coverage. To fill in the void left by the departure of the Advocate, Cole founded the bi-weekly NewsWest, the first issue of which appeared in May 1975. NewsWest continued the tradition of the old Advocate, including many of the same columnists, writers, and stringers, and with the addition of Pat Rocco as primary photographer. However, Cole's relationship with fellow members of the board of the paper's parent company, Green Carnation Newspapers, soon became strained, and in October 1975 he was removed from the board; although he was retained as editor, his relationship with the board continued to deteriorate, and he left NewsWest shortly afterwards. (He continued to contribute occasional columns to the newspaper until it ceased publication in 1977.) In the following years Cole worked for other newspapers in Southern California before leaving journalism to work as a real estate appraiser. He remained active in the gay community, serving on the board of the Christopher Street West Association, of which he was a co-founder in 1970, for most of the last 37 years of his life.

He died at his home in North Hills, California, on June 30, 2007, after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease, complicated by pneumonia and a chronic back ailment.

Source: Obituary, in Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2007.

Extent

7.3 Linear Feet (16 boxes and 1 oversize item.)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The collection consists of materials relating to the life of Rob Cole, in particular his career as editor of the Advocate (1970-1974), as unnamed contributor to the Forum of Southern California (1974), and as founder and first editor of NewsWest (1975). The documents, including correspondence, draft articles, administrative, legal, and financial records, shed light on Cole's role as the first professional newspaperman to run a gay newspaper in Los Angeles. The collection also contains the newsroom copy of the Advocate for 1967-1968. The print material is supplemented by a significant number of photographs published by or submitted to the Advocate, Forum, and NewsWest. The collection also contains materials documenting Cole's association with the Christopher Street West Association, of which he was a founder. The records include board minutes, souvenir programs, newsletter and public relations campaign materials, photographs, videotapes, and buttons.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Robert W. McCoard, December 16, 2007, and August 17, 2008.

Related Material

More extensive papers and photographs relating to the Advocate, which Cole edited, can be found in the Advocate Records, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles.

Separated Materials

The following materials have been separated to the ONE Archives periodicals library:

The Forum of Southern California, issue 1, February 23-March 9, 1974

The Forum of Southern California, issue 2, March 9-23, 1974

NewsWest, vol. 1, nos. 1-12, May 30-October 30, 1975

NewsWest, vol. 1, nos. 14-56, November 27, 1975-July 8, 1977

Out!, issue 1, July 29, 1977

The following items have been separated to the ONE Archives T-shirt collection:

"Christopher Street West Los Angeles, Proud, Strong, United. Gay Pride Celebration, June 27-28, 1987", 1987

Front: "Christopher St. West, 'A New Beginning', West Hollywood Pride 2000", 2000

Front and back: "CSW2000 Volunteer, thenumber.com", 2000

Front: "Christopher Street West. Family, Amor & Paz. 2002 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender pride in West Hollywood, California - June 22 & 23". Back: "Genre How We Live; Parade Staff", 2002

Front: "Greater Palm Springs Pride, 2002. Celebrating World Pride". Back: "Palm Springs Pride. Celebrating World Pride, 2002", 2002

Front: "Group Marshal", [logo by Keith Haring], "Equal rights. No more. No less. The march, lesbian gay bisexual + transgender pride, heritage of pride ][ new york city 2005". Back: "Platinum sponsors" [logos and names of sponsors], 2005

Front: "VeriSign". Back: "lapride.org", n.d.

Front: "Christopher Street West", n.d.

Front: "Established 1970 Pride", n.d.

Front: "CSW, Christopher Street West, Board member", n.d.

The following items have been separated to the audio LP collection:

Colt, Zebedy [Edward Earle Marsh]. I'll Sing For You, 1969

June 28, 1970, Gay and Proud. Narrated by Breck Ardery, 1970

Baron, Sandy, and James R. McGraw. Sandy Baron's God Save The Queens, 1972

San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Tours America '81, 1981

Processing Information

Cole's writings (box 3, folders 23-27, and box 4, folders 1-16), and certain materials relating to NewsWest (box 1, folders 16-19 and 22-23, and box 5, folder 6) found in ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, box 104-160, and added to collection during processing. Collection processed by Michael P. Palmer, December 31, 2009.

Title
Finding aid to the Rob Cole papers, 1950-2006
Status
Completed
Author
Michael P. Palmer
Date
© 2009, revised 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in: English

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

Contact:
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771