Archives West Finding Aid
Table of Contents
Stephen Blair photograph collection, 1916-1995
Overview of the Collection
- Blair, Stephen R. (Stephen Richard), 1917-1997
- Stephen Blair photograph collection
- 1916-1995 (inclusive)19161995
- 1,844 photographs, 105 negatives, 35 postcards, 7 scrapbook albums (3 boxes)
- Collection Number
- Images of Stephen Blair's Hollywood career, service in the Merchant Marines, union activities, interest in alternative health, and involvement in the 1992 Alice B. Theatre production, "Hidden History." Also includes images of Blair's and his partner, Frank McCormick's family, friends, and travels.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
- Access Restrictions
Collection is closed for processing.
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
Images of Stephen Blair's Hollywood career, service in the Merchant Marines, union activities, interest in alternative health, and involvement in the 1992 Alice B. Theatre production, "Hidden History." Also includes images of Blair's and his partner, Frank McCormick's family, friends, and travels.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Restrictions on Use
Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
The current photograph collection, Photo Acc. 2004-083, was received together with the materials that form Accession No. 5172-001 in the Manuscripts Collection on November 12, 1999. Please refer to the appropriate manuscripts finding aid to use those collections. The photographs were transferred to the Visual Materials Collection on April 22, 2004.
Gift of the Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project, November 12, 1999.
Separated MaterialsMaterial Described Separately: Stephen R. Blair Papers (Manuscript Collection 5172)
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Early LifeReturn to Top
Stephen Blair at age 1
James Bushnell, Seattle (photographer)
Merchant MarineReturn to Top
Blair on the deck of the SS IowA
ScrapbooksReturn to Top
The Early Years
The oversize scrapbook features three hundred and ninety-nine b/w and thirty-one color photographs and photocopied prints depicting Blair's early childhood in Minnesota and Canada, his family and friends, and his brief service in the U.S. Army. Also includes thirteen newspaper clippings, seven menus, two memorial service cards, and one hand-drawn family portrait.
The oversize scrapbook features five b/w prints of Stephen Blair working with the director, Patricia Van Kirk, ofHidden History: True Stories from Seattle's Gay and Lesbian Eldersand an early portrait. Also includes programs, rehearsal schedules and calendars, correspondence, publicity flyers and brochures, and clippings related to productions ofHidden Historybetween 1992 and 1995. The scrapbook also includes one of Blair's pay stubs from 1943.
Stephen R. Blair
The oversize scrapbook contains six-hundred and eleven color and ninety-two b/w prints and photocopied images of Stephen Blair and Frank McCormick's life together in San Francisco and Seattle, including their travels, friends, and family. Also includes thirty-five postcards of Blair's early travels to Oregon, California, Alaska, Mexico, Italy, Japan, and Switzerland, as well as clippings and programs related to Frank McCormick's performances in Europe in 1919 as a part of the drag troupe, The Pink Stocking, entertaining soldiers serving in World War One .
Stephen R. Blair III
The oversize scrapbook contains three hundred and twenty-three color and one-hundred and seventy-three b/w prints and photocopied images of Blair's experiences in Honolulu, Hawaii while working in the USO, his performing career in Hollywood, his participation in the National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards, and work on an Arctic oil rig as a medical assistant. Also includes images of Blair and Frank McComick's travels, family, and friends during their life together in San Francisco and Seattle. There are also a number of personal documents, clippings, correspondence, menus, programs, publicity flyers and brochures, and a high school commencement program from 1940.
Green Photo Album
Twenty-one b/w prints and fifteen color prints featuring Blair's attendance of a local meeting of an unidentified group.
[Hidden History] Photos
Thirteen b/w prints of Blair and other cast members of the production,Hidden History: True Stories from Seattle's Gay and Lesbian Eldersphotographed by Chris Bennion.
Ninteen b/w prints and five color prints of Blair after cancer surgery with his friend Charlie. Also includes portraits and images from Hollywood stock companies and several opera choruses.
PhotographsReturn to Top
Sixteen b/w and five color prints and photocopied prints featuring images of Stephen Blair's early travels, his early performing career, and his later work with director, Patricia Van Kirk, on his life-story in the 1992 Alice B. Theatre productionHidden History: True Stories from Seattle's Gay and Lesbian Elders. Many of the images are duplicates of prints found in the oversize scrapbooks.
Photos and Negatives
Fifty-seven b/w and sixty-five color prints and photocopied images of Blair, his friends, and family, many of which are copies of prints found in the oversize scrapbooks. Also includes one-hundred and five negative images.
National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards
Two b/w prints of Stephen Blair and other members of the NUMCS during a member registration and union rally.
LithographsReturn to Top
Currier & Ives
Four 5 x 7 lithograph copies of works in the "American Homestead" Four Seasons Series, originally printed between 1866 and 1870 by Currier & Ives
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Discrimination in employment--United States
- Gay actors--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
- Gay men--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
- Gay theater--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
- Gays and the performing arts--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
- Gays in the military--United States
- Male singers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
- Men's choral societies--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Blair, Stephen R. (Stephen Richard), 1917-1997--Photographs
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)