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Harold Fairbanks papers and photographs

Identifier: Coll2016-009

Scope and Contents

This collection includes administrative records, correspondence, press kits, drafts, clippings, sound recordings, and photographs from Fairbanks' career as a staff writer for publications such as Newswest and Update. Personal records include correspondence with friends Robert Arthur and Olin Wood, as well as early childhood records and photographs acquired from his family. The collection also includes materials from Fairbanks' parents and grandparents (on the maternal side), such as family photographs, correspondence, and diaries.


  • 1905-2011


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 / Historical

Harold Fairbanks was born George McKay Spence in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1935. He attended the State University of Iowa (approx. 1954-1958) where he was involved in film programming on campus. He moved to Los Angeles in 1959 where he began a career in film, working as a projectionist, film programmer for schools, booker in a film exchange, film editor, technician, and publicist. In addition, he helped produce two low-budget features. He assumed the name Harold Fairbanks for his career in journalism. He worked as a movie reviewer for the Advocate, where he often reviewed gay erotic films; and then became the Entertainment Editor for Newswest (1975-1977). In the 1980s, Fairbanks began writing obituaries while a staff writer for Update, bringing a more journalistic approach by interviewing friends and survivors rather than relying on biological family who would often exclude details of homosexuality and AIDS from the obituary ("AIDS Obituaries: The Newspaper Quilt [draft]," by Karen Ocamb, LA Times Sunday Magazine). Fairbanks died in 2014.


15.8 Linear Feet (17 boxes.)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, clippings, diaries, audiocassettes, and other material documenting the life, family, and professional career of Harold Fairbanks (1935-2014), a Los Angeles-based journalist and film critic who wrote for the Advocate, Update, Entertainment West, and Newswest.


The collection is divided into four series:

Series 1. Newspaper administrative records

Series 2. Personal papers

Series 3. Spence family papers

Series 4. Audiocassettes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of David C. Allen, May 6, 2016.

Separated Materials

The following newsletters have been separated to ONE's newsletter collection:

Florida Gay Liberation News, Issue #19-20 (1977).

Rainbow Project NoHo Newsletter [Project Rainbow North Hollywood], July 2004.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Scott Reed, 2016.

Finding aid to the Harold Fairbanks papers and photographs, 1905-2011
In Progress
Scott Reed
© 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

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