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Collection #110

Bob Kohler Papers

Date:1939 - 2007 (Bulk 1990s - 2000s)
Size:2 feet


Gift of the Estate of Bob Kohler.

Scope and Content

The collection contains documents relating to Kohler’s personal and professional life, including correspondences, calendars, some home rental and financial records, stationary and business cards, personal notes, and official documents such as passports and a draft of his last will & testament. It also contains the last will and testament of two of his friends, Terry McNulty and Zachary Freyman, from whom Kohler inherited.

The collection also contains documents related to his activism, including newsletters, training guides, and ephemera from advocacy groups as well as court transcripts pertaining to lawsuits in which Kohler was involved. There are also budgets, newsletters, and agendas from the NY AIDS Housing Network.

Multimedia consists of a number of VHS tapes, all of which have DVD preservation and use copies, which include interviews of Kohler as well as documentation of activism, including footage from the Christopher Street Liberation Day march of 1970. There are also a number of photographs in negative, print, and digital form, as well as a few pieces of artwork.

One folder of photographs was removed to oversize.

History or Bio

Robert Andrew Kohler, more commonly known as Bob Kohler, was Stonewall Riots veteran who was actively involved in a wide variety of civil rights and advocacy groups including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Gay Liberation Front (NY), ACT UP, Sex Panic!, Fed Up Queers, and the New York AIDS Housing Network. Kohler was born in 1926 in Queens, New York and lived in Greenwich Village for most of his life, where he became a friend and confidant of the homeless youths who congregated at Sheridan Square and would play a significant role in the Stonewall Riots. Later in life, he did extensive work for the homeless living with HIV/AIDS, including an 18 month period where he would wait outside of the Division of AIDS Services and Income Support (DASIS) office each evening to ensure that no one was turned away without shelter. He was arrested approximately thirty times in his life for his role in political protests and demonstrations, and on more than one occasion successfully sued the City of New York over these arrests.

He also had a varied professional life. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he worked in the entertainment industry, first as an assistant production manager at CBS and later as the owner of a talent agency. The Bob Kohler Agency was notable for representing a number of black actors throughout the 1960s. For most of the 1970s he managed the men’s-only Club Baths in the East Village and later owned the Christopher Street-based clothing store The Loft, which at various times also had locations in the Upper West Side, Fire Island, and Boston. Kohler passed away from lung cancer in 2007, at age 81.

Folder List

Box 1

1. Bob Kohler history (personal)
2. Official papers
3. Navy
4. Friends and correspondents
5. [Correspondence: cards for holidays, birthday, sympathy]
6. [Lists of contact information]
7. [Business cards of contacts]
8. [Annotated calendars 2003 – 2007]
9. [2002 Calendar, Human rights in the USA (Kohler featured in June)]
10. B.K. Agency
11. Loft
12. Pines [Fire Island]

Box 2

13. Notebooks and jots
14. [Song lists for mixed tapes]
15. Puerto Rico
16. Germany
17. [Mattachine Society, NY: Flyers and a letter dated 12 Sep 1969]
18. Stonewall
19. [Various gay rights, 1971 – 2004 (though largely undated)]
20. [SexPanic!]
21. [New York City AIDS Housing Network, 2001 – 2007]
22. DASIS [Department of AIDS Services and Income Support Human Rights Watch]
23. Other activism
24. Queer youth
25. [Getting arrested, arraigned, or being a protest marshal]

Box 3

26. [Sylvia Rivera – Memorial Program, NYT Obituary, SRLP Brochure]
27. Zines
28. Clippings
29. [Recipes, food, and health information]
30. [Housing and rent: Bob Kohler and Angelo and Tina Berte, 1986 – 2004]
31. [Finances]
32. [Deposition for Robert Kohler, Bartholomew et al. vs the City of New York, 16 Apr 2001]
33. [Press releases, correspondence, and partial transcripts for Bartholomew et al. vs the City of New York, 1999 – 2002]
34. [Deposition for Robert Kohler, Mandal et al. vs the City of New York, 23 May 2003]

Box 4

35. [Correspondence and partial transcripts, Mandal et al. vs the City of New York, Aug 2003]
36. [Correspondence regarding arrests 2000 and 2003]
37. Closed file legal – Zachary [Last will and testament and power of attorney for Abe Willard (Zachary) Freyman, Jr]
38. [Last will and testament of Francis Joseph (Terry) McNulty, 26 Jun 1985]
39. [Ripped up pages relating to harassment of homeless youths in Village]
40. [Stephan Cohen dissertation: “An Historical Investigation of School and Community-Based Gay Liberation Youth Groups, New York City, 1969 – 1975: An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail”]
41. [Miscellaneous]
42. [Artwork]
43. [Photographs 1]
44. [Photographs 2]
45. [Photographs 3] – Oversize removed to box 25, folder 45

Box 5


1. [Home video from Christopher Street Liberation Day, 1970. VHS with DVD preservation & use copies]
2. Bob Kohler political funeral [Original: 2 copies of DVD+R, 2 copies of DVD-R, plus DVD preservation and use copies]
3. Bob Kohler interview by Penny Arcade 6 Nov 2006, approx 3 hrs [VHS with DVD preservation and use copies. DVD copies are in 2 parts]
4. For: Bob Kohler “Learning in Progress” The homophobia & violence shows [Kohler interviewed. VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
5. “CSD Hamburg” NTSC [German language. VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
6. Fierce, The New Neutral Zone, & Paper Tiger TV presents: Fenced Out [VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
7. Stonewall 25: The Future is Ours! A Lefthand Production for Stonewall 25, Inc. [copy-protected VHS, no DVD copies]
8. Windows on Gay Life, 9 Jun 1994 [with Randy Wicker. VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
9. The first annual lesbian and gay pride in policing celebration 29 Jun 1994
10. Gay and homeless in West Village: Silvia Rivera takes Randy Wicker and Tom Iorio on tour of gay homeless camp [VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
11. Bennie Toney on the murder of Marsha P. Johnson 28 Sep 1992 [VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
12. GAA Marriage Bureau/ Wicker Pittsburgh 1971 [VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
13. Gay Pride 25 Jun 1995, Co-co’s birthday 0-4400 [VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
14. News tape – Terry [local news story about Terry McNulty’s Loft. VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
15. “Cloning Diana” – Central Park 14 Sep 1997. Clone Rights United Front distributes badges until Central Park police give summons & seize materials – 2 hrs [VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
16. Christopher St – Rough FacTag [Interviews with production of ‘Christopher St’ tv series, with assorted taped YouTube videos. VHS with DVD preservation and use copies]
17. Bob’s 2006 birthday 1 [miniDV tape]
18. Bob’s 2006 birthday 2 [miniDV tape]
19. Bob’s 80th birthday, from Laurie Wen [2 copies of data DVD of photographs.]


David Carter’s “Stonewall” with hand written annotations by Kohler
Martin Duberman’s “Stonewall” with hand written annotations by Kohler
Bob Kohler rubber stamp
Plaque: NYC AIDS Housing Network presents the Human Rights Award to Bob Kohler [photograph only]
Plaque: The Sylvia Rivera Faith in Action Award presented to Bob Kohler by Metropolitan Community Church of New York – [photograph only]
2 long, rolled military photographs. OVERSIZE removed to box 28.