Mattachine Society Project collection
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection is divided into ten series:
1. Mattachine Project History Series, comprising materials documenting the Mattachine Society Project at ONE Institute (now ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives), which created this collection by combining Mattachine records taken from collections held by ONE Institute, as well as from collections in Jim Kepner's International Gay & Lesbian Archives and materials donated by Harold Call and his estate from 1987 to 2000.
2. Mattachine Foundation Series, containing administrative records and other materials documenting the activities of the Mattachine Foundation, as originally conceived, from 1951 to 1953. The series also contains a number of writings by Harry Hay.
3. Administration (Mattachine Society, Inc.), comprising minutes, correspondence, committee files, financial records, personnel and membership information from Mattachine Society, Inc., the restructured national organization incorporated in the state of California in 1954. This series includes the bylaws and constitution, the Articles of Incorporation and meeting minutes of the Board of Directors.
4. Area Councils and Chapters Series, comprising files from the various Mattachine chapters in California and throughout the United States, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C.
5. Conventions Series, containing materials from the Society's annual conventions, including the founding Constitutional Conventions in 1953.
6. General Correspondence Series, comprising correspondence from the members and the general public.
7. Mattachine Review Series, comprising administrative records and issues of Mattachine Review, the official newsletter of the Society from 1954 to 1966.
8. Newsletters Series, consisting of newsletters published by various Mattachine chapters.
9. Subject Files and Resources Series, consisting of a variety of research materials used by the editors of the Mattachine Review and other Mattachine Society personnel.
10. Sound Recordings Series, comprising 12 reels of 1/4 inch reel-to-reel audiotape, documenting Mattachine events as well as television and radio programs relating to homosexuality.
- Mattachine Society (Organization)
Between 1951 and early 1953, membership in the Mattachine Foundation expanded rapidly in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area. However, in March 1953 a journalist, who had received a Foundation mailing, published an article suggesting that the Foundation, with its secretive leadership, might be a Communist front organization. The reaction of the Foundation's membership exposed a growing schism between Hay and his leftist allies, who wished to continue with the secretive "fraternal order" focused on developing self-understanding and social consciousness; and those, led by Ken Burns and Harold Call, who sought a more "public" organization focused on assimilating the homosexual community into mainstream society.
In two conventions in April and May 1953--in a climate of suspicions about financial improprieties, personal misrepresentations, communist infiltration and the aims of the organization--the membership elected a new slate of leaders, replacing Hay and his followers with Call and his party. The new leaders in turn officially dissolved the Mattachine Foundation with its secretive structure and recognized the establishment of the Mattachine Society with a national, "open" structure. Officially incorporated in California in March 1954, the reorganized Mattachine Society had its headquarters in San Francisco, with "area councils" and chapters throughout the United States. During its most active period in the late 1950s, the Society's activities included group discussions, social and psychological research in relation to sexuality, research in legal cases and legislation regarding sexual equality, annual conventions and the publication of the Mattachine Review and various newsletters.
In the face of financial troubles, languishing membership, and dissatisfaction among local chapters, the Board of Directors decided to dissolve the Society's national structure in 1961. The national chapters subsequently reorganized into independent organizations. The former San Francisco Area Council continued under Call's leadership, and by 1960 it had become less a membership group and more of an education and social service organization, which all but ceased operation in 1967. The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., became the most active and committed to political change of the former chapters. Its leader, Franklin Kameny, challenged the discriminatory policies of the U.S. Civil Service and was instrumental in the campaign to change the American Psychological Association definition of homosexuality as an illness. The Mattachine Society of New York played an activist role in the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. The Philadelphia chapter evolved into the Janus Society. By the end of the 1960s, most of the Mattachine organizations had ended their operations, while only a few--including Chicago, Florida, and New York--continued to operate until the 1980s.
Sources: Mattachine Society Project Collection, Coll2008-016, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Sears, James T. Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006.
15.5 Linear Feet (12 archive boxes, 3 archive cartons, 1 archive shoebox, 1 flat file, 12 sound tape reels)
Language of Materials
General Physical Description note
In June 2013, open-reel audiotapes were assigned call numbers (ARR####), replacing the box/item numbers that were assigned to the audiotapes when this collection was originally processed. These items were formerly housed in Box 13 and Box 14 of this collection.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Accrual processed by Kyle Morgan, 2015.
- Call, Hal (Harold Leland)
- Gay activists -- United States -- California
- Gay and lesbian rights
- Gay liberation movement
- Gays -- California -- History
- Gays -- Civil rights
- Gays -- Services for
- Hay, Harry
- Homosexuality -- History -- California
- Homosexuality -- History -- United States
- Mattachine Society
- Finding aid of the Mattachine Society Project collection
- Loni Shibuyama
- © 2008, 2015
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note