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Ken Burns awards and photographs

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll2014-023

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises two award plaques, 1 inscribed plate, and 1 award certificate, 1955-1998, given to Ken Burns, former President of the Mattachine Society during the 1950s. Included is a Mattachine Society honorary membership plaque given to Burns in 1955. The collection also includes 15 photographs and 24 photocopies of photographs from the estate of Ken Burns. The photographs document Burn's stepfather in drag and 14 other photographs, circa 1955 through 1969.


  • circa 1920-1998


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.

Historical Note

Kennith H. Burns grew up in Southern California and briefly attended the University of Southern California before joining the medical corps. After World War II, he began studying for the Episcopal priesthood, but left by the 1950s and was working as an insurance adjuster. In the early 1950s, Burns became a member of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles. He later became chairman of the Coordinating Council in 1953, and oversaw numerous activities in Mattachine Society chapters in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.

By 1953, there was a growing schism between the Mattachine's members. In two conventions that year, the membership elected a new slate of leaders including Burns, replacing founder Harry Hay and his followers. Burns was elected President of the Mattachine Society, where he stayed for three years until conflict over the editorial content of the Mattachine Review led him to resign from his office. His lover at the time, Dale Olson, resigned from the Mattachine as well.


OBITUARIES; Kennith H. Burns, 1926 - 2007; Leader of one of nation's first gay rights groups. (2008, Jan 15). Los Angeles Times Retrieved from

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.


1 Linear Feet (1 flat archive box.)

Language of Materials



Photographs, photocopies of photographs, and four awards from the estate of Ken Burns, former President of the Mattachine Society. Included is a Mattachine Society honorary membership plaque given to Burns in 1955.


This collection is arranged chronologically.


Collection acquired December 29, 2007, from Rick Mechtly.

Related Archival Materials

Mattachine Society Project Collection, Coll2008-016, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Loni Shibuyama, May 2014. Ken Burns photographs merged into collection in 2018, after the donation of an additional photograph and photocopies of photographs.

Finding Aid to the Ken Burns Awards and Photographs, circa 1920-1998
Loni Shibuyama
(c) 2014
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