Pearl Hart and Mattachine

Pearl Hart served as a legal advisor, persentation speaker for the two Chicago Area Council of the Mattachine Society ( which operated 1954-1957 and 1960-1961) and Mattachine Midwest (which operated 1965-1986). Hart also wrote articles for the Mattachine Midwest newsletter article writter.

Following are newsletters with contents about Hart or by Hart.  Images can be enlarged for easier reading.

Newsletter of the Chicago Area Council of the Mattachine Society (March 1955)

Pearl Hart is noted as serving as legal advisor for the text for incorporation charter.

Note that the term "sexual equality" rather than "sexuality" or "homosexuality/homosexuals" is used in the purpose and intent of the organization.

Newsletter of the Chicago Area Council of the Mattachine Society (May 1960)

A recap of a presentation Hart gave to 16 Mattachine members and guest on the topic of "Your Rights If Arrested." In the presentation Hart noted that the records are full of incidents of over zealous law officers depriving citizens of their rights.

The newsletter also notes that Hart's "Your Legal Rights" pamphlet which was published during the peroid of the first council (1954-1957) was in the process of being revised.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, August 1965

Notes Hart's remarks at Mattachine Midwest's first public meeting on July 27.

This meeting was held at the Midland Hotel, downtown on Adams St.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletters came to be available at bars and other businesses. However during these early day, there was a risk for proprietors, since the presence of a stack of these could be cause for closing the business for being a house of disorder, which was defined as indulging in acts considered contrary to the morals of the community.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, October 1967

Inside contains an article by Hart on "'Vice' and the Plain Clothes Policeman."

The cover is included for reference. It brings up the issue of people being arrested for loitering, but only those that the police identified as homosexuals.

Hart's article covers how public indecency laws are used to arrest homosexuals. Hart notes that funding used by the police to surveil places of cruising, as well as for arrest, processing and court appearance of those arrested, would be “better spent on education, social welfare, and other needful thing!”

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, April 1969

Inside included a birthday wish for Hart. This was paid for by "a friend." The front page is inculde for reference. Venereal disease was an important issue in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Newsletters contained advertisements for bars and other businesses. However, at times there were difficulties in getting payment from advertisers. This caused some financial difficulties for the organization.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, May 1969

Notice of Hart's presentation being rescheduled from March to May. The topic of the presentation had not been announced but is noted that it will "combine wit with some solidly useful information gleaned from nearly 55 years as a civil rights attorney."

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, June 1969

Inside is a recap on an informal talk by Hart in May.

The cover is provided for reference. Published before the Stonewall riots in New York, however the cover article notes how open the organization is. It also covered what the organization is not: "...but for readers looking for orgies, we might say that if you attend MM, what you're liely to get is a discussion of impending legislation. (Some of us are boycotting California grapes, anyway--can't have a good orgy without grapes.)"

The inside page that includes the Hart recap also notes the reopening of The Trip. This establishment was raided and lost its liquor license. The legal processing to reopen was appealed up to the Illinois Supreme Court, which reversed the license revocation. This was a first for a homosexual bar. This history has been dubbed as Chicago’s Stonewall.

Hart's presentation focused on a plea for more aggressive action on the part of Mattachine Midwest, and urged a broadening and deepening of Mattachine's public influence.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, October 1969

The inside announces that Mattachine Midwest honored Hart for her work "in the defense of homosexuals as well as in civil rights and libertarian causes generally."

The cover is include for reference. The article in on bar raids realted to such public indecency as two people of the same sex dancing together or one having his or her arm over the shoulders of another (lewd fondling in public would be the charge).

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, Novemeber/December 1969

The inside contains an article by Hart on what to do after being acquitted for a charge. These were practical things to do to retrieve or expunge records that might be detrimental in the future.

The cover is provided for reference and reports about the National Institute of Mental Health concluding that homosexual acts are not matters of public or legal concern and the Modern Medicine poll that psychiatrist being widely in favor of legalizing homosexual acts. Note, in January 1962 Illinois became the first state in the US where homosexual acts were not illegal, though police could still arrest you for what they perceived as indecent or lewd conduct.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, May 1970

The inside includes an article about Mattachine honoring Hart on the occasion of her 80th birthday.

The cover is provide for reference. It includes information on events organized by Chicago Gay Liberation groups.  In Chicago, the pre-Stonewall Homophile organizations, primarily Mattachine Midwest, work with the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation groups and thier were people involved in both sets of groups. Mattachine viewed the work of Gay Liberation Groups to be a continuation of the work they were doing.

2,000 gathered at the Coliseum for a public dance. The dance almost did not happen due to not being able to secure insurance (the possibility of it being raided was too risky for most insurers). However due to contacts and relations that people while with Mattachine Midwest had with the Black Panthers and other black organizations, "thanks to a black broker, a brother, insurance was obtained the day before the dance from the same California company that insured the Black Muslim convention" which happened at the Coliseum a few weeks earlier.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, October 1971

The inside contains an article by Hart on the four letter word: porn.

The cover is included for reference. The cover article notes that there is a peroid of lack of appeal for social activism and Mattachine was taking a step back to assess how to best fit into this peroid where there are a lot more groups working on gay and lesbian issues and concerns.

It is interesting to note that Mattachine Midwest dissolved in 1986 and technically outlasted by a decade the Chicago Gay Liberation groups that started soon after the Stonewall riots. However, the people in these groups would go on to establish other groups which would address specific issues and areas of concern.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, April 1973

The inside article on the annual membership meeting and election of officers. It notes that during the meeting "an engraved wall plaque, representing an honorary life membership in Mattachine Midwest, was then presented to Dr. Pearl M. Hart, attorney and long-time helpmate to the homophile community." Hart administered the oath of office to president of Mattichine Midwest. This was also a celebration of her 83rd birthday.  Hart died in March 1975.

Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, April/May 1980

This edition of the newsletter was a 15th anniversary commemoration of Mattachine Midwest. Jim Bradford composed a biographical sketch on Pearl Hart for this issue. Language used in this biography seems to be a foundation for biographies that have been written at later times.

In regard to not being elected to City Council or judge it says, "she was too liberal and too honest to win the backing of a corrupt political system.

Pearl M. Hart Memorial Plaque

In 1976, Mattachine Midwest established the Pearl M. Hart Memorial Plaque "as a lasting memory of a woman who gave so much of herself to others, that we all can live in a more comfortable and accepting society wit equality for all, regardless of race, creed, sex or sexual orientation." It was awarded to individuals for outstanding contributions toward these same goals.  William Kelley received the award in 1978.