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Steve Berman Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll2012-141

Scope and Content

The bulk of the collection, from 1980-1983, chronicles Berman’s life during and after college as he pursued his career in psychology and social services. The specific areas of his work involve gay and lesbian senior services, Jewish community groups, and psychological studies of the homosexual population. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence, medical records, newspaper and magazine articles and photographs.


  • 1964-1983
  • Majority of material found within 1980 - 1983



The collection is open to researchers. There are limited access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


Steven Phillip Berman was born August 21, 1946 in Illinois and grew up in the greater Chicago area. After graduation from high school, Berman obtained a B.A. in psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1970. Relocating later that year, Berman began work on his M.A. in psychology at California State University, Long Beach. While at CSULB, Berman founded the Gay Students Union and the Gay Students Council of Southern California, often speaking at local colleges and universities. As a graduate student, Berman focused his studies on personality and ability testing, working with prominent lesbian psychologist Betty Berzon. In 1973, prior to completion of his degree, Berman underwent neurosurgery for removal of an arteriovenous malformation. This surgery left Berman with seizures and other neurological conditions that would plague him the rest of his life.

During his schooling and for some time after, Berman worked for several Southern California agencies involved with general mental health and gay support services, including the newly founded Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center where he worked with parolees reentering the workforce. Berman moved to the San Francisco Bay area around 1981, continuing his social services work and becoming increasingly involved with Jewish organizations and congregations. As a member of Jews for Social Responsibility and later the Jewish Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights, Berman lobbied the San Francisco community for increased awareness of Middle East conflicts and for greater rights for lesbians and gays in the Bay Area.

Berman’s most notable work was as a case manager for North of Market Multipurpose Senior Services in the early 1980s. Berman worked with gay seniors, frequently referencing them to gay and lesbian organizations in the area for specialized attention and support. He also worked with San Francisco City Hall to clarify policy for city employees, seeking (and winning) grievance rights for same-sex partners of city and county employees.

Berman died on July 17, 1983, collapsing after completing a race to raise funds for HIV/AIDS research.

Sources: Steve Berman Papers, Coll2012-141, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California


2.5 Linear Feet (1 archive box + 2 archive cartons + 1 shoebox)

Language of Materials



The Steve Berman papers are a collection of notes, correspondence, and personal information created and maintained by the psychologist and activist in the 1970s and 1980s. The bulk of the collection, from 1980-83, chronicles Berman’s life during and after college as he pursued his career in psychology and worked for greater rights and recognition for the gay and Jewish communities.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1. Community Service and Activism

Series 2. Personal Life, Academics, and Medical Beliefs

Acquisition Information

Date of acquisition unknown.

Separated Materials Note

Removed to newsletter collection: Center News, circa 1980; Center NewsVolume 2, Issue 1, 1982

Removed to poster collection: Gay and Lesbian Community Service Center Now We Need You Even More

Removed to manuscripts: Seaman, Maida Joan (1974) The Effect of Sex and Sexual Preference Upon Sex-Role Attitudes; Pinka, Allan T. (1974)Self-Disclosure of Sexual Orientation and Psychological Functioning in Gay Males

Processing Information

Formerly housed in box 103-15. Collection processed by Erick Hawkins, November 2012.

Steve Berman Papers
Erick Hawkins
© 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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