Newspapers – Part 1: Unearthing LGBTQ History in Headlines

Newspapers stand as invaluable resources for genealogists, offering a unique window into personal history, unlike any other record. This is particularly true when it comes to discovering LGBTQ family members, especially those who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Historically, police raids on queer clubs often became headline news. Individuals caught in these raids would see their names, addresses, professions, and even photos published in the local newspaper. This devastating exposure could shatter lives and lead to severe consequences. Simply associating with the queer community was enough to cost people their jobs and result in alienation from friends and family. In extreme cases, some even chose suicide following such infamous exposure.

A vivid illustration of this destructive force can be seen in Figure 1, depicting the front page of the Chicago Daily News on April 25, 1964. The headline boldly announces, “109 Arrested in Vice Den,” with the sub-headline detailing the capture of “8 Teachers, Suburb Principal Seized.” An excerpt from the article reads:

“Sheriff’s deputies arrested 109 persons – including eight teachers and a suburban school principal – in an early-Saturday narcotics raid on the N. Mannheim Rd’s “Glitter Gulch.”

Two Chicago police employes [sic], a county painter, a Circuit Court employe [sic] also were among those seized, according to deputies.

Sheriff Richard B. Ogilvie said he plans to send letters to school districts employing the arrested teachers.

“I think school districts should keep an eye on people who maintain such close contact with youngsters in the community,” he said.

THE RAID was on Louie’s Fun Lounge, 2336 N. Mannheim Rd. in Leyen Twp. Deputies said the lounge is a hangout for deviates.

Ninety-seven men, six male juveniles and six women were taken from the tavern to the Criminal Court Building in two sheriff’s buses and three squadrols for processing.

Uncut marijuana valued at $500 and 500 barbiturate pills and capsules were confiscated in the raid led by Richard S. Cain, chief investigator for Sheriff Ogilvie.

The Tavern’s 270-pound owner-operator – Lewis F. Gauger, 53 – is an avowed friend of crime syndicate boss Tony Accardo and was an Accardo defense witness at the hoolum’s 1960 income tax trial…”

The article goes further to link the club owner with organized crime, a common excuse used for raiding gay clubs. The accompanying newspaper photos depict the arrested individuals, from getting off the police bus to sitting in the courthouse, with individual mugshots below the fold.

This article serves as a stark example of the detrimental impact of police and media on the queer community. The sheriff takes the extraordinary step of informing employers of the arrests, a move rarely seen outside cases involving offenses like hiring prostitutes. What other “crime” has historically inspired police to violate confidentiality by writing letters to employers? The media, with its layout and derogatory language, actively participates in the public shaming of queer individuals.

In the right sidebar, three additional newspaper images detail “Deviate Raids,” documenting the names and addresses of those accused and fined.

Could someone in your family tree be found during a publicized raid on a queer club?

Chicago Daily News 1964
“109 Arrested in Vice Den,” Chicago Daily News (Chicago, Illinois), 25 April 1964, page 1.
Haines Colbert, “9 Arrested in Deviate Raid Are Freed By Beach Judge,” The Miami News (Miami, FL), 5 March 1956, page 6.
“Cops Raid Sex Deviate Center,” The Monitor (El Paso, TX), 23 March 1956, page 5.
“2 Fined in Deviate Raid,” The Examiner (San Francisco, CA), 30 March 1956, page 18.