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Robert S. Basker papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll2013-076

Scope and Contents

The collection includes organizational records, correspondence, handwritten notes, published articles, awards, armed services records, clippings, and photographs, 1931-2001, from Robert S. Basker. The bulk of the collection consists of records pertaining to human rights organizations and committees including Mattachine Midwest, Freedom of Residence, Gay Activist Alliance of Miami, Gay Community Services of South Florida, Dade County Coalition for Human Rights, National Committee for Sexual Civil Liberties, Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, Harvey Milk Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Democratic Club, American Civil Liberties Union, National Organization for Women, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Also included in the collection are Basker's World War II army service records, articles and interview correspondence documenting his life as a gay activist, photographs capturing his involvement with civil rights leaders, organizational paperwork, presentation notes, Encyclopedia Britannica employment correspondence, personal telephone messages, daily schedules, and correspondence regarding charitable contributions.


  • 1931 - 2001


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no 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.

Biographical Information

Robert S. Basker was born Solomon Sloane Basker in Harlem, New York, 1918, to a Jewish family that had immigrated from Poland. He began his civil and political rights activism as a high school student about 1936. He was involved with progressive organizations, including the National Student League, American Students Union, Young Communist League, American Youth Congress, American League Against War and Fascism, American League for Peace and Democracy, the Civil Rights Congress, and the National Negro Congress.

After high school, Basker sought employment; however he encountered an anti-Semitic climate in New York. He dropped his first name and became Robert Sloane Basker, obtaining a job in the export business. After working in the export business he voluntarily served five years in the Army during World War II. Basker was a Technical Sergeant, Headquarters Company, 13th Port and held certificates for Marksman Carbine, Sharpshooter Rifle, and Sharpshooter Pistol 45 caliber. He was Honorably Discharged on November 27, 1945 and remained in Belgium as a civilian serving in the Engineer Section until he was granted relief on June 13, 1946.

Following his army service, Basker moved to the Midwest and worked as a salesman and district manager for Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1954, while living in Skokie, Illinois, he married Hedda Schmidt, who was fully aware that Basker was gay. He adopted her son and they had two children, a son and a daughter, during their seven years of marriage. They were involved in the Chicago Council of American-Soviet Friendship, as well as the racial integration movement, being directly responsible for the first black family to own a home in Skokie in 1961. Around this time, Basker and Schmidt divorced.

He began his gay activism in 1965, establishing the first Mattachine Society in Chicago under his first and middle names, Bob Sloane.

Basker moved to Miami in 1969 to be closer to his ex-wife and children, visiting them in Cuba for nine months. Returning to Miami, Basker took custody of his biological children. In 1971 he helped start the Gay Activist Alliance of Miami. In 1976 he established the Dade County Coalition for the Humanisitc Rights of Gays (which would become the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights). This organization championed the passing of the Human Rights Ordinance in Miami which protected the rights of lesbians and gays in Dade County. In 1977 the Ordinance was challenged and repealed by the Save Our Children movement started by Anita Bryant.

In 1978 Basker moved to San Francisco where he would live for the remainder of his life. There, he co-founded the Alexander Hamilton Post 448 of the American Legion, catering to gay veterans. He served on numerous committees including the California Legislative Council for Older Americans, the San Francisco National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Board of the San Francisco In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority. In 1992 Basker changed careers, serving in a clerical position for District Attorney Terence Hallinan. His 1992 resume documents his expansive contributions to civil and political rights including involvement in racial equality, feminist issues, senior rights, prisoners' rights, refugee rights, gay rights, democratic clubs, homeless and community services, and veterans' organizations.

Basker died in San Francisco, on April 6, 2001.


Box 1, Folder 26; Box 3, Folder 13; Box 3, Folder 18; Box 3, Folder 47; Box 4, Folder 6; Box 4, Folder 8; Robert S. Basker Papers, Coll2013.076, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.


4.8 Linear Feet (4 archive boxes, 2 archive cartons.)

Language of Materials



Organizational records, correspondence, handwritten notes, published articles, awards, armed services papers, clippings, and photographs from Robert S. Basker (1918-2001). Born Solomon Sloane Basker in Harlem, Basker dedicated his life to progressive causes. He established or directed numerous gay rights groups including Mattachine Midwest, Gay Activist Alliance of Miami, and the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights. Basker also served as a committee member for numerous human rights organizations.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1. Human rights activism

Series 2. Personal papers


Donor and date of acquisition unknown.

Separated Materials

The following publications have been separated from the Robert S. Basker collection and entered into the ONE Archives' periodical and program collections:

Florida State University Alliance for Gay Awareness. Agape (1:3) May, 1977.

March on Washington. San Francisco Sentinel. Commemorative edition (15:42). October 17, 1987.

Jim Kepner's Song & Dance (2). March 1994.

ONE, Inc. Education Division. Homophile studies. One Institute Quarterly (8). Los Angeles: One, Incorporated, 1970.

Lesbians & Gays of African Descent for Democratic Action. LGADDA celebrates...speaking our colors. Fourth year anniversary event program. June 10, 1995.

Harvey Milk Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Democratic Club. Celebrating Harvey Milk's 65th birthday. Fundraiser event program. May 22, 1995.

Processing Information

Formerly boxes #103-047, 103-228, 103-292, 104-035, 104-124. Collection processed by Danielle Perez-Granado, August 2013.

Finding Aid to the Robert S. Basker Papers, 1931-2001
Danielle Perez-Granado
© 2013
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