Scope and Content
Title: Reed L. Erickson papers
Identifier/Call Number: Coll2010.001
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
Language of Material:
5.6 linear feet.
14 archive cartons.
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1964-1994
Date (inclusive): 1916-1994
Legal papers, correspondence, meeting minutes, newsletters, pamphlets, publicity material, photographs, clippings, research
material, financial records, manuscripts, handwritten notes, audiotape, ephemera and other material from philanthropist and
female-to-male transgender/transsexual individual, Reed Erickson (1912-1992). Having built his wealth through oil investments
and other entrepreneurial endeavors, Erickson founded the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF) in 1964, a charitable foundation
primarily created to support transgender, transsexual, and gender identity research and services. The bulk of this collection
is related to the activities of the EEF, research material on gender identity, as well as Erickson's relationship with the
gay and lesbian organization, ONE, Incorporated, which he supported financially for nearly twenty years. The collection also
includes some material on Erickson's personal life, including material related to Erickson's children, his former wives, and
his health- and drug-related complications in the last years of his life.
Erickson, Reed L., 1912-1992
Reed Erickson was born in El Paso, Texas, on October 13, 1917. Initially named Rita Alma Erickson, Erickson was born female-bodied.
Erickson spent most of his early life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating high school, Erickson attended Temple
University. Erickson moved with his family to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, resulting in a transfer to Louisiana State University.
Erickson moved back to Philadelphia after graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in mechanical engineering.
In the early 1950s, Erickson returned to Baton Rouge, working in his family's business before starting his own company making
stadium seating, Southern Seating. In 1962, Erickson's father passed away, leaving him the family business, which he successfully
ran until 1969 when he sold it for 5 million dollars.
Erickson began his transgender transition under the care of sex realignment surgery pioneer, Dr. Harry Benjamin, in 1963.
Once his physical appearance matched his identity, he changed his name to Reed and began fully living his life as a male.
His transition was completed in 1965. In this period of transition, he married and divorced his first wife. Later that year,
Erickson met and married his second wife. The couple lived in Baton Rouge, where they had two children. During this period,
Erickson had started to experiment with recreational drugs. Over time, Erickson's substance abuse of hallucinogenic drugs
and cocaine increased, causing strain in his life and relationships. In 1974, Erickson and his second wife divorced. Shortly
after his second divorce, Erickson met his third wife. In 1981, he moved to Ojai, California, to be closer to his children
and second wife. By 1983, after a series of arrests, Erickson fled to Mexico to escape drug-related indictments, and he remained
there for the rest of his life.
Despite a difficult personal life, Erickson successfully managed his investments and became a major philanthropist. In 1964,
Erickson founded the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF), a charitable foundation primarily created to support research
and services in transgenderism, gender identity and sexual diversity. Throughout the late-1960s and 1970s, Erickson donated
money to various organizations including the Harry Benjamin Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, and ONE,
Incorporated. Shortly after his initial donation to ONE, Erickson aided the establishment of a charitable sector of ONE, called
the Institute for the Study of Human Resources (ISHR), which advocated for the advancement of homosexual research. In establishing
ISHR as a nonprofit funding organization--and through the help of Erickson and EEF--ONE was able to start and maintain research
study programs, a library, gay and lesbian studies courses and lecture series. This led to ONE becoming a California state-accredited
institution in 1981, providing graduate-level education in gay and lesbian studies. The first homophile studies degrees were
given in 1982, and the ONE Institute of Graduate Studies presented Erickson with an honorary doctoral degree that same year.
In 1983, Erickson's relationship with ONE, Inc. began to dissolve due to a dispute over the real estate property known as
the Milbank Estate. The Milbank Estate was purchased by Erickson and used as headquarters for ONE, Inc. However, by 1984,
Erickson had ceased funding and was pressing to remove ONE from the estate. In 1986, ONE no longer possessed authorization
to provide degrees, but continued to conduct homophile classes, publish its newsletter, and maintain its library and lecture
series. The Milbank property was divided, but the terms of the legal dispute were not resolved until after Erickson's death
Erickson died in Mazatlan, Mexico, in 1992.
Devor, Aaron H., and Nicholas Matte. “One, Inc. and Reed Erickson: The Uneasy Collaboration of Gay and Trans Activism, 1964-2003.”
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 10.2 (2004): 179-209.
Reed L. Erickson Papers, Coll2010-001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
Researchers wishing to publish material must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives as the
physical owner of the material. Note that permission to publish does not constitute copyright clearance. ONE National Gay
& Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold copyright. It is the responsibility
of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials from the copyright holder(s).
Date and donor of acquisition unknown.
Box #, folder #, Reed L. Erickson Papers, Coll2010-001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California
Formerly in boxes 103-144, 104-032, and 104-033. Collection processed by Joy Novak in 2006 and revised by Loni Shibuyama in
Scope and Content
This collection consists of legal papers, correspondence, meeting minutes, newsletters, pamphlets, publicity material, photographs,
clippings, research material, financial records, manuscripts, handwritten notes, audiotape, ephemera and other material from
philanthropist and female-to-male transgender/transsexual individual, Reed Erickson (1912-1992). The bulk of this collection
is related to the activities of the EEF, research material on gender identity, as well as Erickson's relationship with ONE,
Incorporated, which he supported financially for nearly twenty years. The collection also includes some material on Erickson's
personal life, including material related to Erickson's children, his former wives, and his health- and drug-related complications
in the last years of his life.
The collection is divided into six series:
(1) The Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF) series comprises minutes, correspondence, publications, ephemera, and other
records documenting the activities of the EEF. Some of the materials were created and maintained by Zelda Suplee, who served
as EEF director and, ostensibly, as a personal assistant to Erickson.
(2) The ONE, Incorporated and the Institute for the Study of Human Resources (ISHR) series comprises material that documents
the relationship between Erickson, ONE, Inc., and ISHR. The bulk of this series consists of papers related to the legal dispute
over the Milbank Estate, a real estate property that Erickson purchased in 1983, and which was occupied by ONE, Inc.
(3) The Personal series comprises financial records, correspondence, family-related materials, writings and other materials
from Erickson's personal life.
(4) The Resources and research material series comprises clippings, journals, pamphlets, manuscripts and other informational
material about transgenderism, transsexualism, gender dysphoria, gender identity and related subject matter.
(5) The Photographs series comprises photographs of Reed Erickson, as well as other subjects related to his life. Notably,
this series includes Erickson's photo album entitled "Eric's Ego Trip," which has photographs of Erickson throughout his life,
including early years when Erickson lived as female.
(6) The Audiotape series comprises reel-to-reel audiotapes with recordings of presentations and workshops on transsexual issues.
The following publications have been separated from the Reed L. Erickson collection and entered into the ONE National Gay
& Lesbian Archives' database:
Money, John, and Patricia Tucker.
Sexual Signatures: On Being a Man or a Woman. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1975.
Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, Inc. Newsletter
Outreach Institute Newsletter
Phoenix Monthly International: For the Transvestite and the Transsexual
Transition: A Confide Publication
The Transsexual Voice
ONE Incorporated records, Coll2011.001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Erickson Educational Foundation.
Institute for the Study of Human Resources. ISHR.