Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, UCSF

Graves is leading a team documenting the social history of UCSF's Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Project collaborators include historian Susan Stryker, archivist Mimi Klausner, researcher Harrison Apple, and architectural historian Stacy Farr. The project will produce a comprehensive social history of LPPI, Historic American Building documentation, and a preliminary plan for interpreting the building's history.

San Francisco became an important center for the study of gender and sexuality in the 1940s and 1950s through the work of the Langley Porter Clinic (401 Parnassus Avenue; later the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute LPPI). The UCSF Medical School and the California Department of Institutions, which oversaw the state’s psychiatric hospitals, founded the clinic in 1941 as a joint venture.  In 1949, LPPI Director Dr. Karl Bowman led a comprehensive statewide investigation into “sex crimes and sex deviants,” initiated and funded by the California State Legislature. The resulting reports, coauthored by Bowman and UCSF research associate Bernice Engle, represented a newly liberalized attitude meant to shape future legislation and therapeutic recommendations. 

Another of Bowman’s key collaborators was Louise Lawrence, who had been living full-time as a transgender woman since 1942. Lawrence lectured on transgender topics at UCSF and created an expansive international network of transgender people. She, along with Virginia Prince and others, published the first incarnation of Transvestia, a pioneering transgender publicationin 1952.  Lawrence’s address book provided the initial subscription list and she was instrumental in connecting transgender people to pioneering sex researchers such as Alfred Kinsey and Harry Benjamin.

Langley Porter Psychiatric Clinic, ca. 1942. Photo:  UCSF History Collection

Langley Porter Psychiatric Clinic, ca. 1942. Photo:  UCSF History Collection