Confusion on different Mattachine chapters, Mattachine Society on 'The Playboy Club'

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Billy Glover:

That is a good reason to urge our media to urge all groups to put their material online. I am not sure how many people would want to see ONE/HIC minutes, but it can't hurt-some historians should want to glance at it to get perspective. I think Ken Burns is giving us too much in his documentary showing on PBS this week (Prohibition), BUT then it shows how historians CAN go back and find lots of information that lets us know how something happened and the consequences.

WB Kelley:

NACHO met in Kansas City in February 1966 (the organizing meeting) and in San Francisco in August 1966 (the annual meeting). It met in Chicago in 1968. I took the minutes at all three of those meetings. Somewhere I have a copy.

However, the minutes wouldn't shed any light on Mattachine Midwest's name choice. If anywhere, that would come from Mattachine Midwest minutes, but unfortunately, after many years of my keeping them, I think they were lost by someone who shouldn't have taken custody of them.

Records of Mattachine Society, Inc. of New York from 1951 to 1976 (which I assume include records of the New York chapter of the Mattachine Society, Inc., before the independent existence of Mattachine Society, Inc. of New York) are listed in the collection of the International Gay Information Center at the New York Public Library and have also been microfilmed. Copies of the microfilm are listed as being held by NYPL and by a Connecticut library.

Bill Kelley, Chicago

Billy glover wrote:

This reminds me that, wasn't it 1966 when NACHO met in Chicago, and where are the minutes etc from that which might help set some of the record straight. Or the records of N Y Mattachine for that matter.

WB Kelley:

My information on use of the name by Mattachine Midwest came from its founder, Bob Basker. I was not there at the founding, but shortly thereafter. It was in 1965; maybe Hal had softened by then, since Mattachine Society Inc. of New York was around before 1965.


Billy glover wrote:

I don't recall how Sears hanhdled this in his book, but I'm sure that Hal tried to stop anyone else from using the name, and told the New York chapter to stop and they simply ignored him.

WB Kelley:

Legally, an organization can establish or authorize chapters here and there, and they're all part of the parent organization. That's what the Mattachine Society did in a number of cities, including Chicago and New York, though the Chicago chapter lasted only for a short while each time it was started.

On the other hand, people can set up independent organizations. That's what Mattachine Midwest and Mattachine Society of Washington were, from their beginnings--independent organizations, though they borrowed the name Mattachine with the original Mattachine organization's permission or acquiescence (in Mattachine Midwest's case) or maybe without (I don't know about Mattachine of Washington).

As for Mattachine of New York: Originally there was a New York chapter of the national Mattachine, but my understanding is that--unlike the earlier Chicago Mattachine chapter(s), to which Mattachine Midwest never had any legal relationshipt--the Mattachine Society Inc. of New York actually represented a split-off of the New York chapter from the national Mattachine and simply operated as an independent organization thereafter. I'm not sure of this latter historical point, however.

Billy glover wrote:

Thanks, I never have understood the legal thing, or why some were chapters and some not.

WB Kelley


Also, Mattachine Society Inc. of New York was an independent New York organization that had formerly been a chapter of the national Mattachine Society Inc.--as distinguished from Mattachine Midwest and the Mattachine Society of Washington, both of which were always independent organizations and not chapters of the national society.

ONE (aka One) Inc. did indeed have a small chapter in Chicago, called One of Chicago (or ONE of Chicago). It was primarily sponsored by the longtime non-gay attorney Paul R. Goldman, who had a large gay practice, and it wasn't really brief: I believe it existed from the mid-1960s to perhaps as late as the 1980s, and certainly into the mid or late 1970s. Paul died in 1986.

Billy glover wrote:

This is an example of something that may not be of interest to many average glbt people, but I think is important to those active in the movement, historians, etc since no matter how convoluted this issue is, and that is true of the internal fights in Mattachine and ONE and DOB, it is relevant to how early people got started -as you say, they got the idea finally of actually trying to change things.

There were a few women in early Mattachine, Betty Purdue (Geraldine Jackson in ONE magazine) being one. I knew her and still am not sure of the spelling-but she lived for a time in Jim Kepner's house on Baxter St, that darn steep hill that scared me the few times I drove up it off of Glendale Blvd.

And while the book is almost too detailed, the book by Jim Sears, Behind the Mask of the Mattachines, tells the story from Hal Call's viewpoint of how he and others, including women, took over Mattachine. I believe that it is accurate to say that Mattachine died for a time when they did this and the founders left, but the publication/et al, people had moved out to publish ONE Magazine, so in that sense ONE was and is a continuation of Mattachine-which is why some historians keep saying Mattachine published ONE, since the main people WERE Mattachine, such as Dale Jennings.

ONE also had a chapter, briefly, in Chicago and New York-and even later in Long Beach (which still exists as a center under a different anme) . And with Kameny and Jack Nichols, et al, I think they helped found either Mattachine or something in Florida. (Was it with Inman?)

Hal feared the other chapters messing up his brand, so tried to get rid of them-but New York of course kept going, but also had the Westside Discussion Group and then Stonewall and GAA and GLF, etc.

WB Kelley:

Mattachine Midwest, founded in 1965 as an independent Chicago organization, and in which I was involved from the start, did have a few women in leadership positions in its early days, notably Pearl Hart (who was never a member but provided legal advice), Renee Hanover (who was a member and also provided legal advice), and the author Valerie Taylor-- though later in the organization's 20-year history it became all-male. The organization wasn't a part of the nominally national Mattachine Society, Inc., which was then headquartered in San Francisco, but borrowed the Mattachine name with the "national" society's acquiescence.

In this respect, it was like Frank Kameny's Mattachine Society of Washington, which was always an independent organization and never part of the national Mattachine Society, but used the name.

The ca.-1961 Mattachine group depicted in the "Playboy" series--there called "Mattachine Chicago"--would have "been" a pre-Mattachine Midwest chapter of the Mattachine Society, Inc. One or more short-lived chapters of that Mattachine Society were organized in Chicago in the 1950s and early 1960s. I wasn't around at the time or was unaware of them.

Brendon wrote:

By the way, Billy – yes, both the man and woman were at the meeting. He organized it and was leading it. She snuck in by what looked like a back stairway.

The feeling in the scene was amazing – these people were just beginning to realize that they might be able to chance the world ….

WB Kelley:

No Playboy Bunnies, though.

billy glover wrote:

Thanks. It was repeated on Bravo. Mattachine, especially Chicago as I recall had women in it, and i think Pearl Hart may have been in it or worked with it (Gerber/Hart Archives). I am sure Bill Kelley will correct me if I am wrong.But I must have missed something, or was the man and woman both at the meeting? And talking about marriage?


Hi Billy,

If you’re interested in seeing the clip of Mattachine on “The Playboy Club”, it’s available on-line at NBC.

You can skip right to the scene by moving the ‘time slide’ to 39:00.

I’ve also attached a couple screenshots I made from the on-line version.

Glad you forwarded me the info about it – I would never have known about it otherwise.

Correct me, if I’m wrong, but I think the writers took some liberties – because wasn’t Mattachine all-male? So the lesbian Bunny wouldn’t have been to attend a meeting?

In any case, it still seems great that the mainstream is being educated about GLBT history earlier than Stonewall.

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