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Robert Roth was born in Englewood, New Jersey in 1950. He graduated from the Horace Mann School in 1967, Cornell University in 1971, and the Fordham Law School in 1975. While at Cornell, he was one of the co-founders of the Student Homophile League (later the Gay Liberation Front), which at the time was only the second gay rights organization among U.S. universities. As a lawyer, he specialized in landlord-tenant cases, winning the landmark Chin vs. London Management case in 1982, which ruled that unmarried tenants shared survivors' rights to an apartment. Another courtroom victory established First Amendment rights for the Swedish gay magazine "Revolt," which had been seized by U.S. Customs. In New York City, where he lived, Roth was involved with several legal and human rights organizations, particularly the Bar Association for Human Rights of Greater New York.

a principal project of Robert Roth was the compilation and cataloguing of international gay publications, and the accumulation of information and documents pertaining to the international gay rights movement. In addition to collecting numerous periodicals from many countries and all parts of the world, he corresponded with gay people in developing countries where there was no gay freedom movement, providing contacts and materials to those who might otherwise have had little awareness of or access to the international gay liberation movement. He used his several travels abroad to collect further printed material and publications to broaden his international collection. Many of the publications are very rare, and provide insight into the emerging issues of gay rights throughout the world in the 1970s and 1980s. One component of his international collection is lists and bibliographies of international gay organizations, and publications. He also corresponded with several leaders in the movement, especially John D. Stamford of "Spartacus," John Hubert and "Paz y Liberacion," and Claude Courouve of "Aleph."

Roth privately published a newsletter (1977-1979), which discussed the international gay rights movement, and was instrumental in promoting and distributing other publications concerned with the issue, particularly "Paz y Liberacion." Under the pseudonym "Calaph Timmerman," Roth published in 1988 an article "Home Remedies for the Holocaust - A Few Simple Techniques for Staying Alive," which was widely distributed. another major undertaking was a microform project with the National Gay Archives and Library, for which he composed an extensive bibliography of gay periodicals and publications.

Roth died of AIDS related causes and Hodgkins Disease in July of 1990. Prior to his death he had been in contact with Brenda J. Marston of the Human Sexuality Collection, and had made arrangements for the gift of his personal papers and international collection.