Stephen R. Blair papers, 1919-1996  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Blair, Stephen R. (Stephen Richard), 1917-1997
Title
Stephen R. Blair papers
Dates
1919-1996 (inclusive)
Quantity
1 cubic foot (2 boxes)
Collection Number
5172 (Accession No. 5172-001)
Summary
Papers and oral history interview of Blair documenting experiences in the military, the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union, and theater.
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all users.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Stephen Richard Blair was born on July 19, 1917, in a sod house built by his father in Swanville, Minnesota. His parents, Louis and Eva (McPhee) Blair, raised a large Catholic family in Minnesota and Saskatchewan, Canada. Blair attended Duluth Central High School and the University of Minnesota in Duluth. In January 1936 Blair entered the U.S. Army and served as a field paramedic. He was discharged for suspicion of homosexuality in October of the same year. He later moved to San Francisco, where he met his partner Frank McCormick. Blair and McCormick's relationship lasted roughly forty-one years, until McCormick died of lung cancer in the 1980s.

When Blair and McCormick met, McCormick was serving as a union officer for the National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards (NUMCS). He was also on the executive board of the California Congress of Industrial Organizatons (CIO) and was actively involved in the Pacific coast maritime strike of 1936. NUMCS was a small union known for full integration of African American and gay members. NUMCS leaders were blacklisted in the 1950s, and the union was expelled from the CIO in 1955 for communist leadership. Blair became involved in NUMCS while working as a ship's delegate on passenger cruise lines and freighters. He served as a delegate for a union-wide meeting on the S.S. Aleutian . Blair earned top wages waiting tables on luxury liners before being blacklisted in the 1950s by the Merchant Marines. He also held positions as an hospital orderly, a medical assistant for an Arctic oil rig named Kavik , and a studio prop man on Hollywood movie sets.

McCormick and Blair were born twenty years apart but had similar interests in theater and performance. In World War I, McCormick served in a drag troupe called the Pink Stockings. He also sang in the Fighting American Quartet to entertain troops. In World War II, Blair performed in the United Service Organizatons' (USO) theater and entertainment shows. These experiences sparked a continuing interest in theater. Blair played in stock theater shows in Hollywood, San Diego, and Los Angeles, California. After visiting Hawaii with the USO, he decided to stay and work in advertising. He performed under the name "Mickey Blair" in a 1945 Honolulu Community Production of The Petrified Forest by Robert Sherwood.

McCormick and Blair moved to Seattle in the late 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, Blair was involved in Democratic election campaigns. In 1980 Blair sang in the Seattle Men's Chorus, which formed in 1979. Blair was also one of five Seattle gay and lesbian elders who performed their own life stories in the 1992 Alice B. Theatre production, Hidden History: True Stories from Seattle's Gay and Lesbian Elders. The play was directed by Patricia Van Kirk and was based upon interviews completed as part of the Alice B. Theatre Oral History Project. Stephen R. Blair died in April of 1997.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The papers include subject files related to various aspects of Stephen R. Blair's life, including his military service, his participation in the Alice B. Theatre and the Seattle Men's Chorus, and his experiences as a maritime worker and member of the National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards. Also included are playbills, clippings, correspondence, and the transcript of his interview for the Alice B. Theatre Oral History Project.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The creator's literary rights have been transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Biographical information, 1998Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/1

Incoming letters, 1944-1945Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/2

General correspondence, 1942-1996, undatedReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/3-4

Subject filesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/5
Alice B. Theatre - Hidden History: True Stories from Seattle's Gay and Lesbian Elders
1992-1996, undated
1/6
Alice B. Theatre Oral History Project - transcript of Blair interview
1992
1/7
Democratic campaigns
1972, 1980
1/8
Duluth Central High School (Minnesota)
1939, 1941, undated
Employment
Box/Folder
1/9
Medic for Arctic oil rig Kavik #1
undated
Passenger Liners
Box/Folder
1/10
Photocopies of photographs
circa 1950s
1/11
Miscellaneous
1947-1950, undated
Box/Folder
1/12
Miscellaneous
1940, 1946, 1954
Box/Folder
1/13
An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle by Don Paulson
1996, undated
1/14
Genealogy information
1941-1943, 1991, undated
1/15
Harvest House
1955-1956
1/16
McCormick, Frank
1919-1925, 1962, 1978, undated
1/17
Military service / military issues
1930, 1955, 1974, 1995, undated
National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards
Box/Folder
1/18
Photocopies of photographs
circa 1950-1959
1/19
Miscellaneous
1947-1951, undated
Seattle Men's Chorus
Box/Folder
1/20
General correspondence
1980, 1995
1/21
Newsletters: Music Man
1980
1/22
Writings regarding organizational problems
1980
box:oversize
2
Clipping: Seattle Gay News - "The Seattle Men's Chorus Celebrates 10 Years with Reprise"
1990
Box/Folder
1/23
Miscellany
1980, 1994
Box/Folder
1/24
United Service Organizations Theater
undated
1/25
U.S. Coast Guard - ineligibility for employment
1951-1954

Speeches and writings, undatedReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/26

Seattle Gay News, 1996Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/27

Yearbook - Duluth Central High School (Minnesota), 1940Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/28

Magazine articles, 1975, 1996Return to Top

Container(s): Box:oversize 2

Artwork, 1960, undatedReturn to Top

Container(s): Box:oversize 2

Notes, undatedReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/29

Miscellany, 1944-1996, undatedReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/30-31

EphemeraReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Playbills and programs
Box/Folder
1/32
Blair, Stephen
1945-1946, undated
1/33-34
Miscellaneous
1942-1963, 1988-1995, undated
Box/Folder
1/35
Seattle Chorale
1954-1955, 1957

ClippingsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
box:oversize
2
Communism and blacklisting
1971, 1987, 1996
Box/Folder
1/36
Health issues
1988, undated
box:oversize
2
Milk, Harvey
1978
2
Oil industry
1970, 1989
2
Seattle gay community
1992-1996, undated
Box/Folder
1/37
Miscellaneous
1970-1974, 1991-1993, undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Discrimination in employment--United States
  • Gay actors--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Gay men--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Gay theater--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Gays and the performing arts--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Gays in the military--United States
  • Male singers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Men's choral societies--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Personal Names :
  • Blair, Stephen R. (Stephen Richard), 1917-1997--Archives
  • Corporate Names :
  • Seattle Men's Chorus
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
  • correspondence
  • Playbills
  • transcripts
  • Other Creators :
    • Corporate Names :
    • Labor Archives of Washington (University of Washington) (creator)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)