Humphreys, Laud. Papers

Span Dates: 1951-1988
Bulk Dates:
Volume: 12 boxes, 4.8 linear feet.


Drafts, correspondence, journal articles, notes, newspaper clippings, surveys, legal documents, memoranda, transcripts, speeches, course curricula, subject files, ephemera, photos, and an audiocassette tape created or collected by sociologist and Episcopalian priest, Laud Humphreys, who is best known for his book, Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places—the first publication to examine the social and sexual behaviors of men who perform sex acts with other men in public restrooms. The majority of the collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, lecture material, surveys, journal articles and newspaper clippings relating to Humphreys’ career—from his doctoral work in 1968 until his death in 1988—and research in the field of sociology and, more specifically, homosexuality and criminology. The collection also contains personal papers including correspondence, documents and clippings related to his experience as an Episcopalian priest from 1955 to 1965, an altercation with a professor at Washington University in 1968, and his trial and subsequent imprisonment for an antiwar demonstration in Illinois in 1970.

Hist/Bio Note

Born on October 16, 1930 in Oklahoma, Robert Allan (Laud) Humphreys is a pioneer researcher in the study of homosexual behavior, combining academic study with political activism. Humphreys graduated from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois in 1955. He took the name of "Laud" from William Laud, a seventeenth-century Archbishop of Canterbury, and as "Laud" was ordained an Episcopalian priest. In 1960, Humphreys married Nancy Wallace. In 1965, Humphreys undertook graduate work in sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. His doctoral dissertation on male-male sex in St. Louis-area public restrooms—known in gay slang as "tearooms”—was published as Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places to much controversy in 1970. The book won the C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems but was frequently denounced as covert research and condemned for its invasion of the privacy of those having sex in a public place. Humphreys moved on to teach at Southern Illinois University. On May 5, 1970, he led an antiwar demonstration that invaded a draft board office, where he destroyed a picture of President Richard Nixon. He was subsequently convicted of destroying government property. He served three months of a one-year prison sentence in the summer of 1972. While in jail, he was hired by Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California, where he became a full professor of sociology in 1975. In 1972, Humphreys published Out of the Closets: The Sociology of Homosexual Liberation, one of the first scholarly accounts of the emerging gay liberation movement. In 1980 Humphreys left his wife and two children to live with his protégé, Brian Miller. Also in 1980, Humphreys earned California certification as a psychotherapist and established a private counseling practice. In his final years, he served as a consultant to police forces and frequently provided expert testimony in court cases. He also retained his position at Pitzer College. Humphreys died from complications of lung cancer on August 23, 1988 in Sherman Oaks, California.

Finding Aid

An online finding aid is available through the Online Archives of California.


This collection is located at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles, California.


Episcopal Church | Humphreys, Laud | California