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Betty Berzon papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll2011-004

Scope and Contents

This collection contains manuscripts, correspondence, organizational records, research materials, photograph albums, audiovisual items, clothing, trophies and other materials from lesbian activist, writer and psychotherapist, Betty Berzon (1928-3006). The collection is divided into ten series:

The (1) Personal Series contains various materials related to Berzon's personal life, such as her education, health, travel, family, and relationship with long-time partner, Teresa DeCrescenzo.

The (2) Writings Series contains manuscripts, correspondence and resource material for Berzon's mostly non-fiction books, as well as articles for magazines, journals and websites.

The (3) Psychotherapy Series contains organizational records, correspondence, research material and other documents related to Berzon's development and career as a psychotherapist with various research institutions as well as in private practice.

The (4) Activism and Organizations Series contains organizational records and other material documenting Berzon's advocacy work for a variety of gay and lesbian organizations and events, including the Gay Academic Union, the Gay Community Services Center, the Lambda Literary Awards and the Morris Kight memorial.

The (5) Speaking Engagements and Lectures Series contains manuscripts, notes, correspondence and publicity materials documenting Berzon's speeches and lectures on gay and lesbian identity, relationships, bigotry, among other topics.

The (6) Correspondence Series contains general correspondence with Berzon.

The (7) Subject Files Series contains clippings, notes, bibliographies, and other material collected by Berzon.

The (8) Photographs Series contains photographs, negatives and slides documenting Berzon's life from her birth through the last year of her life.

The (9) Audiovisual Material Series contains reel-to-reel audiotape, audiocassettes, film, videos and DVDs. It includes Berzon's multimedia therapy session kits, as well as audio recordings of workshops, speeches and interviews.

The (10) Trophies, Ephemera and Textiles Series includes trophies, buttons, posters, a uniform and other materials.


  • 1928 - 2006
  • Majority of material found within 1965 - 2005



The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Publication Rights

Researchers wishing to publish material must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives as the physical owner of the material. Note that permission to publish does not constitute copyright clearance. ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials from the copyright holder(s).


Betty Louise Berzon was born to a middle-class Jewish family on January 18, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. The family moved to Tuscon, Arizona when Berzon was young, and upon graduating high school she attended Stanford University, majoring in journalism and creative writing. In 1949, Berzon got a job in a bookstore, which turned into a short-lived career as a bookseller. She owned and operated Berzon Books in 1951 in Los Angeles, but it went out of business after one year.

In the following years, she experienced a bout of depression and sought treatment in a psychiatric hospital. After her release from the hospital, she got a job in a sanitarium and enrolled in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a psychology student. While working on her degree, Berzon took a job as a caseworker for the American Red Cross Military Hospital Service, and later for the San Diego County Probation Department. By 1958, she had graduated with a Master's degree in Psychology from San Diego State College and hadbegan working for a psychotherapy research organization, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute (WBSI). There, she developed her psychotherapy career and created program materials for group therapy sessions called the Bell & Howell Encountertape Series. She evenually left WBSI and established herself as a consultant, developing workshops, training sessions and seminars in group therapy, personal growth and interpersonal relationships. She later received her Ph.D.

By 1971, Berzon had began specializing in work counseling gay men and lesbian women, as well as same-sex couples. Throughout the 1970s to 2000s, Berzon edited or wrote a number of books about gay and lesbian identity, relationships, and homophobia, including Positively Gay, Permanent Partners, Intimacy Dance, and Setting Them Straight. She also wrote an autobiography about her therapy career and experience coming out as a lesbian woman called Surviving Madness.

In addition to her psychotherapy and writing career, Berzon was an outspoken activist on behalf of gay and lesbian rights and awareness. Among her advocacy work, Berzon served as the National President of the Gay Academic Union; served on the boards of National Gay Rights Advocates and the Gay Community Services Center (later called the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center); and was the founding Board Chair of the Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS). She also participated in the Lambda Literary Foundation and the Whitman-Radclyffe Foundation.

In the 1970s, Berzon met Teresa DeCrescenzo, who would be her partner throughout the rest of her life. Berzon and DeCrescenzo lived together in Los Angeles for 33 years. Berzon died of cancer on January 24, 2006.


Box 1, Folder 1, Betty Berzon Papers, Coll2011-004, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California

Box 4, Folder 22, Betty Berzon Papers, Coll2011-004, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California

Box 33, Folder 1, Betty Berzon Papers, Coll2011-004, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California


66.9 Linear Feet (39 records boxes + 15 photo binder boxes + 3 archive cartons + 7 flat archive boxes + 1 suitcase + 1 oversize trophy + 1 mapcase drawer.)

Language of Materials



Manuscripts, correspondence, organizational records, research materials, photograph albums, audiovisual items, clothing, trophies and other materials from lesbian activist, writer and psychotherapist, Betty Berzon (1928-2006). Included in this collection are manuscripts and resource materials for Berzon's published and unpublished books; records from gay and lesbian organizations in which she was involved; paper and audiovisual material for her therapy practice, workshops, and training programs; correspondence files; subject files; extensive photo albums and memorabilia documenting Berzon's personal life; and personal papers, including those related to Berzon's relationship with long-time partner, Teresa DeCrescenzo, and Berzon's years-long battle with cancer.


This collection is divided into ten series:

Series 1. Personal

Series 2. Writings

Series 3. Psychotherapy

Series 4. Activism and organizations

Series 5. Speaking engagements and lecture series

Series 6. Correspondence

Series 7. Subject files

Series 8. Photographs

Series 9. Audiovisual material

Series 10. Trophies, ephemera and textiles

Acquisition Information

Collection was donated by Teresa DeCrescenzo, Berzon's long-time partner, following Berzon's death. ONE received the collection as a series of donations on February 15, 2009, March 24, 2009, and October 3, 2011.

Related Materials

Papers that were primarily created or collected by Berzon's partner, Teresa DeCrescenzo, have been separated from the Berzon collection and made into its own Teresa DeCrescenzo Papers collection. This includes materials related to the gay and lesbian youth organization, Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS), which DeCrescenzo founded.

Separated Materials

The following books and monographs have been separated from the collection:

Aldrich, Ann, and Marijane Meaker. We, Too, Must Love. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2006.

Aldrich, Ann, and Marijane Meaker. We Walk Alone. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2006.

Alyson, Sasha. Young, Gay & Proud! Boston: Alyson Publications, 1991.

Ana-Maurine Lara. Erzulie's Skirt. Washington, DC.: RedBone Press, 2006.

Ayres, Ian, and Jennifer Gerarda Brown. Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights. Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Baldwin, Kim. Hunter's Pursuit. Philadelphia: Bold Strokes Books, 2005.

Boyd, Malcolm, ed. Mouth to Mouth: a Collection. Los Angeles: Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, 1981.

Boyd, Malcolm, and J. Jon Bruno. In Times Like These: How We Pray. New York: Seabury Books, 2005.

Bulkin, Rena. Frommer's Comprehensive Travel Guide: Washington, D.C. '91. New York: Prentiss Hall Press, 1991.

Burnett, Allison. The House Beautiful: a Novel of High Ideals, Low Morals, and Lower Rent. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2006.

Carter, Megan. On the Wings of Love. Tallahassee, FL.: Bella Books, 2005.

Cho, Margaret. I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005.

Costello, Bonnie, ed. The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

Davis, Porter. Auto-Erotic Practices. El Segundo, CA: Banner Books, 1950.

Echols, Alice. Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999.

Faderman, Lillian, and Stuart Timmons. Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

Faderman, Lillian. Scotch Verdict. New York: Quill, 1983.

Faderman, Lillian. Scotch Verdict. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Forrest, Katherine V. Daughters of an Emerald Dusk. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2005.

Gallo, Marcia M. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of teh Lesbian Rights Movement. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2006.

Gordon, Bill. Mary, After All: a Novel. New York: Dial Press, 2005.

Harris, Bill. Washington, D.C.: A Picture Memory. New York: Crescent Books, 1990.

Herrmann, Dorothy. Helen Keller: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.

Hocquenghem, Guy. Homosexual Desire. Translated by Daniella Dangoor. London: Allison & Busby, 1978.

Jones, Frankie J. For Every Season. Ferndale, MI.: Bella Books, 2005.

Kailey, Matt. Just Add Hormones: An Insider's Guide to the Transsexual Experience. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.

Lake, Catherine, and Nairne Holtz, ed. No Margins. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2006.

Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian and Gay Legal Issues. Students of Tulane University School of Law, volume 2, 1992.

Leigh, Wendy. Liza: Born a Star. New York: Signet, 1993.

Liuzzi, Peter J. With Listening Hearts: Understanding the Voices of Lesbian and Gay Catholics. New York: Paulist Press, 2001.

McNab, Claire. The Kookaburra Gambit: a Kylie Kendall Mystery. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2005.

Newman, Felice. The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: a Passionate Guide for All of Us. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2004.

Parish, James Robert, and Jack Ano. Liza! An Unauthorized Biography. New York: Pocket Books, 1975.

Patterson, Jane and Lynda Madaras. Woman Doctor: The Education of Jane Patterson, M.D. New York: Avon Books, 1983.

Plaskow, Judith. The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics, 1972-2003. Edited with Donna Berman. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.

Radclyffe. Distant Shores, Silent Thunder. Philadelphia: Bold Strokes Books, 2006.

Rand, Erica. The Ellis Island Snow Globe. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Reage, Pauline. Story of O. New York: Grove Press, 1965.

Sanders, Lauren. With or Without You: A Novel. New York: Akashic Books, 2005.

Schneider, Bart. Beautiful Inez: a Novel. New York: Shaye Areheart Books, 2005.

Seale, Anne. Finding Ms. Wright. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2005.

Snyder, Stephanie, and San Francisco Public Library. Out at the Library: Celebrating the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center. San Francisco: San Francisco Public Library, 2005.

Stone, Sharon. All the Bold Days of My Restless Life. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2005.

Taylor, Valerie. Whisper Their Love. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2006.

Thomas, Jessica. Turning the Tables. Ferndale, MI.: Bella Books, 2005.

Tilly, Meg. Gemma: a Novel. Minneapolis, MN: Syren Book Co., 2006.

Tsang, Daniel. The Age Taboo: Gay Male Sexuality, Power, and Consent. Boston: Alyson Publications, 1981.

The Universities and the Gay Experience: Proceedings of the Conference Sponsored by the Women and Men of the Gay Academic Union, November 23 and 24, 1973. New York: Gay Academic Union, 1974.

Valentine, Johnny. The Daddy Machine. Lynette Schmidt, ill. Los Angeles, CA: Alyson Wonderland, 2004.

Valentine, Johnny. The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans and Other Stories. Lynette Schmidt, ill. Los Angeles, CA: Alyson Wonderland, 2004.

Van, Mo. Singing Off Key. Los Osos, CA: Sea Wind Publishing, 2006.

White, Michael D. Current Issues and Controversies in Policing. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2007.

Issues from the following periodicals have been separated and put into the ONE Archives periodicals collection:

Alternative Lifestyles: Changing Patterns in Marriage, Family & Intimacy. Beverly Hills: Human Sciences Press, 1, no. 2 (May 1978).

Chrysalis. Los Angeles: Chrysalis, no. 2 (1977).

The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. Boston, MA: The Gay & Lesbian Review, Inc., vol. VIII, no. 6 (November-December 2001).

The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. Boston, MA: The Gay & Lesbian Review, Inc., vol. IX, no. 3 (May-June 2002).

Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly: HLFQ. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 3, no. 3 (2002).

Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services: Issues in Practice, Policy & Research. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 18, no. 1 (2005).

Lambda Book Report. Lambda Literary Foundation, vol. 10, no. 9 (April 2002).

Motive. Sojourner Truth Printing Collective, 32, no. 1 (1972).

Olympus. Studio City, CA: Colt Studio, no. 6. (1986).

Several newsletters have been separated from the collection as well, and these have been noted on the folders from which they were pulled.

The following T-shirts have been separated to the T-shirt collection: A day without human rights is a day without sunshine, undated.

GCSC Lesbian Resource, undated.

GLASS 20 Yrs., 1984-2004, 2004.

GLASS Pride, Staff, Foster Family Agency, undated.

LA Valley Pride, 2000.

Have you hugged your GLASS big brother/big sister today?, undated.

Protect gay, lesbian and youth of color from hate crimes, undated.

Tell Yourself: None of This Ever Had to Happen. And Then Go Make It Stop, Whatever Breath You Have Left[...], Paul Monette, undated.

Triangle Foster Parents, undated.

A poster, "Out of Many... One: Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day, June 27, 1982, San Francisco" has been separated to the ONE Poster Collection.

Processing Information

Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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 55 and Box 56 of this collection.

Collection processed by Emily Prior and Loni Shibuyama, November 2011.

Finding Aid to the Betty Berzon Papers, 1928-2006
Loni Shibuyama
© 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is inEnglish.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771