Scope and Content of Collection
Language of Material:
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
Title: Martin F. Block papers
Block, Martin F.
Identifier/Call Number: Coll2006.001
0.2 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): 1935-1995 (bulk 1950-1955)
Date (bulk): bulk
Abstract: Materials documenting Martin F. Block's activities as a writer, founder and first editor of
ONE Magazine, and as a board member of the Celebration Theatre, Hollywood, in the 1980s. The collection includes unpublished poetry and
prose 1938-1953 and 1982-1984, by Block, Howard Griffin, and Ramon Mendez, as well as correspondence, clippings, ephemera,
and a transcript of an interview relating to Block's career, personal life, and to the founding of ONE, Inc.
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives as the
physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE
National Gay & Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It
is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright
Box #, folder #, Martin F. Block Papers, Coll2006-001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Date of acquisition unknown.
Formerly housed in boxes 103-18 and 103-73. Processed October 03, 2006. Revised June 05, 2008 and March 31, 2015, by Michael C. Oliveira.
Martin Fiddler Block was born on July 27, 1919. As a teenager he delivered merchandise for a bookstore in New York City. After
graduating from high school he found employment as a buttonhole maker. He later worked for Doubleday, Doran Book Shops becoming,
upon completion of military service, night manager for the firm's shop in Grand Central Terminal. He then obtained employment
in the publishing business. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and in the early 1950s became one of the owners of
the Studio Book Store, Hollywood, California. In late 1950 or early 1951, Block was invited by Rudi Gernreich to join the
nascent Mattachine Society. By late 1952, an increasing number of members believed the Mattachine should consider a more public
role. On October 15, 1952, at a regular meeting chaired by Block, the publishing of a periodical for homosexuals was first
proposed. The concept was developed in a succession of weekly meetings, and on November 15, Block, Dale Jennings, and Antonio
Sanchez under the pseudonym Anthony Ryceman signed the articles of incorporation for ONE. On November 29, at the first meeting
of the new organization, held in his Hollywood bookstore, Block was elected Chairman of ONE, Incorporated. Block also served
as the first editor of
ONE Magazine, the inaugural issue of which was published in January 1953. However, the demands of his bookstore and family matters compelled
him to resign from his position as editor in June 1953. Block remained active in the organization, although with increasing
infrequency, through the 1950s. Throughout his professional life Block reviewed books for the
Los Angeles Daily News, the Saturday Review, and the
New York Times Book Review. In the late 1950s, after his own store closed, he managed the book department of Robinson's Department Store, in Pasadena.
He also served as chairman of the Celebration Theater during the early 1980s. He died in West Hollywood, California, on March
Martin F. Block Papers, Coll2006-001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Feinberg, Leslie. "Headwaters of First Mass Political Gay Movement Rise."
Workers World, August 23, 2005. Accessible at http://www.workers.org/2005/us/lavender-red-45/ (accessed September 26, 2006).
A Few Doors West of Hope: The Life and Times of Dauntless Don Slater. Universal City, CA: Homosexual Information Center, 1998.
Marcus, Eric. "The Editor: Martin Block." In
Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Right, 1945-1990; An Oral History. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
White, Todd C. "Timeline, 1960 and Before." Tangent Group, November 12, 2005. Accessible at http://www.tangentgroup.org/history/Timeline/Timeline1959.html (accessed September 26, 2006).
Scope and Content of Collection
The bulk of the collection consists of manuscripts by Block and others, and appears to be derived from his activities as founding
editor of ONE Magazine in 1953, and from his involvement with the Celebration Theatre in the 1980s. Block's own writings include
poetry and a self-assessment. Materials by others that may relate to Block's involvement with
ONE Magazine include a synopsis for a play,
Behold Your Calling, by Ramon Mendez, and a short story,
From a Soldier's Notebook: The Joy of Lightning. A contemporary note was penned on the title page, "Howard Griffin c/o the Hon. Dorothy Brett, Taos, N.M.," suggests that
the author may have been John Howard Griffin (1920-1980), a southern writer with many connections to the Taos area. Materials
relating to the Celebration Theatre include playbills, flyers, financial records, and the pamphlet
An Introduction to the Celebration Theatre, which includes an essay by Block,
On the Nature of Gay Theatre. The correspondence file contains correspondence relating to Block's career in publishing, and to personal matters. It includes
an acetate-covered cardboard "voice-o-graph" disk, postmarked November 20, 1946, and marked "Coney Island." The clippings
file also contains materials concerning Block's career in publishing, as well as other items of personal interest. A transcript
of an interview with Block provides information on his life and on the founding of ONE, Inc. Materials in the ephemera file
consist primarily of several playbills, and flyers from Block's career in publishing. Charles D. Rowland (1917-1990) was a
long-time friend and as a producing director of the Celebration Theatre, a colleague of Block: Rowland's file contains a copy
of his will (with Block named as executor) and tributes from his memorial service.
ONE Incorporated records, Coll2011.001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
John V. Shinn Photographs, Coll2014-106, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Gay activists -- California -- Los Angeles
Gay dramatists -- United States
Gay men's writings, American
Gays' writings, American
Rowland, Chuck (Charles D. Rowland)
Celebration Theatre (Los Angeles, CA.)
Griffin, John Howard
Block, Martin F.
Block, Martin F.