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Finding aid of the Harry Bartron Papers

Finding aid prepared by Lilly Insalata, © 2008

Summary Information

Repository
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
Creator
Bartron, Harry, 1917-2007
Title
Harry Bartron papers
Collection no.
Coll2008.054
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1978-2005
Date [inclusive]
1917-2006
Extent
3.0 linear feet.
General Physical Description note
6 archive cartons + 3 archive half-cartons + 1 clamshell box album + 1 framed print.
Language
English
Abstract
Writings, manuscripts, publications and photographs documenting the life of pantomime artist and poet Harry Bartron from 1927 to 2006. The bulk of the collection dates from 1978 to 2005 and consists of poetry exploring in particular Bartron's Roman Catholic faith and his homosexuality. Additional materials include liturgical materials, written for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA; autobiographical reminiscences; correspondence; and materials documenting Bartron's daily activities and his career as a pantomimist and his work as an advocate for GLBT seniors. The photographs include images of Bartron in costume and in performance, as well as photographs and snapshots of family and friends.

Preferred Citation

Harry Bartron papers, Coll2008-054, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

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Biography

Harry Ollen Bartron was born in Van Etten, New York, on December 26, 1917, the fifth and youngest child of Fernando and Margaret (Cranmer) Bartron. Shortly after Bartron's birth, his mother divorced his physically abusive father, and married a tenant farmer named Frank Whitmore, and Harry lived his childhood on several farms in the neighborhood of Troy, Pennsylvania. Bartron's mother left Whitmore when she discovered he had never divorced his first wife, and Bartron found himself on his own at age 13. He spent his high school years boarding with relatives and private families in Elmira, New York. Raised a Baptist, he joined the fundamentalist Pilgrim Holiness Church in his late teens, and completed seminary work at the Allentown Bible School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he met Inez Lee Fotner, whom he married. He joined the Navy in 1943 and converted to Roman Catholicism in boot camp; he was expelled from the Navy later that year with an "Undesirable Discharge" for making sexual advances to another sailor. He returned to his wife and son Stephen, born during his deployment, and moved Cincinnati, where he obtained work with a Catholic goods shop, joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and took classes at Xavier University. Bartron and his wife had two more children, Elizabeth (born 1945) and Carol (born 1947). In 1947, Bartron moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University. He also became very active in the Uptown Players of Chicago, both as an actor and assistant to the director; he also took private lessons in performance. His wife left him in 1948; she later married Paul Marcus Marker (1925-1997), with whom she had several children, and died in 1986. Now single, Bartron developed a one-man show, first as a monologist, then as a mime, and for the next 18 years performed over 4,200 times throughout the United States, Canada, the British Isles, and Mexico. With the success of Marcel Marceau, Bartron was billed as "the American Pantomimist".

Bartron retired from full-time performance in 1966, and returned to school, earning a BA from Mansfield State College, in Pennsylvania, in 1970. He moved to Los Angeles later that year, and in 1972 received an MA in Speech from UCLA and a Community College Instructor Credential in Language Arts and Literature. He played small roles in films such as Cutting Loose (1980), Let's Do It! (1982), and The Seventh Sign (1988) and in television shows such as Archie Bunker's Place (1981) and Mysterious Two (1982); he also appeared in several commercials.

Bartron's later years were devoted to writing, in particular poetry. His first volume of poetry, Contemporary Words in Sound, was published while he was still a student at Mansfield State University. The poems address a wide variety of subjects, but the majority explore his Roman Catholic faith and his sexuality. His accomplishments as a poet were recognized by induction into the International Poetry Hall of Fame in October 1996. Bartron also published a novel, Drummer Boy, on drummer boys in the American Civil War, published in 2004. He was also active in the Roman Catholic Church, writing liturgical material for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA, joining the Knights of Columbus in 2001, and constantly exploring the position of Catholic homosexuals through speeches, essays, and support groups. He also became involved with the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, in particular the Oral History Project; advocated for housing for GLBT seniors; and continued to perform as a member of a senior theater group. He died in Los Angeles on July 18, 2007, at the age of 89.

Source: Harry Bartron Papers, Coll2008-054, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

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Scope and Content of Collection

This collection contains writings, manuscripts, publications and photographs documenting the life of Harry Bartron. The bulk of the collection consists of poetry, both printed and manuscript, exploring in particular Bartron's Roman Catholic faith and his homosexuality; Bartron's erotic poetry was published under the pseudonym "Henri de Boise". Additional writings include liturgical materials, written for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA, and autobiographical reminiscences in the form of emails to his daughter and transcripts of interviews given as part of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center's Oral History Project. Personal papers document Bartron's daily activities, career as a pantomimist and in film and television, his involvement with the Roman Catholic Church and Dignity/USA, his activities as an advocate for GLBT seniors, and his various social activities. The photographs include images of Bartron in costume and in performance, as well as photographs and snapshots of family and friends.

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Arrangement

This collection is arranged in 4 series: (1) Writings, (2) Personal, (3) Photographs and (4) Graphics.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
© 2008
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, California, 90007
(213) 821-2771
askone@usc.edu

Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Publication Rights

Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and 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 and 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 holder(s).

Acquisition Information

Gift of Harry Bartron, in several transactions, between 2003 and 2006.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lilly Insalata, September 24, 2008.

Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Dignity/Los Angeles

Genre(s)

  • Autobiography
  • Photographs
  • Poetry

Subject(s)

  • Catholic gays--United States
  • Gay men's writings
  • Homosexuality--Religious aspects--Catholic Church
  • Mimes--United States
  • Poets, American--20th century

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Collection Inventory

Series 1:  Series 1. Writings Bulk, 1969-2003 1927-2006 Bulk 1969-2003  (Bulk, 1969-2003)   2.0 linear feet.

Series Scope and Contents

This series contains Bartron's writings, both published and unpublished. The bulk of the series consists of poems, including published volumes, manuscript compilations, and a small number of individual poems found loose. The majority of poems explore Bartron's Roman Catholic faith and his homosexuality (Bartron published his erotic poetry using the pseudonym "Henri de Boise"). The religious writings consist primarily of liturgical materials composed by Bartron for the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA. The autobiographical materials include email reminiscences-the originals titled Toilet Book, the transcript titled Personal Memoir-addressed to Bartron's youngest child, Carol; transcripts of interviews Bartron gave as part of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center's Oral History Project; and (nominally fictional) short stories. Bartron attempted in the mid-1980s to sell his American Civil War novel, Drummer Boy (not published until 2004), as a film script, and the file contains an extensive synopsis used to "shop" the story to Hollywood studios. The other writings consist largely of poems sent to Bartron by other people.

 Autobiographical 1981-2004 

Box Folder

 Personal Memoir 2000 

1 1

 Toilet Book or Oral History: An Autobiography 2000 

1 2

 Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. Oral History Project 2003-2004 

Box Folder

 Coming of Age, Chapter 1 2003 

1 3

 Digests 1-2 2003 

1 4

 Digests 3-4 2003 

1 5

 Stories to Tell 2004 

1 6
Box Folder

 Short Stories 1981-2000 

1 7-8

 Book 1985-1993 

Box Folder

 Drummer Boy. Papers 1985-1993 

1 9

 Poetry 1927, 1968-2006 

Box Folder

 Index of Poems 1997-2003 

2 1

 Published Collections 1969-1997 

Box Folder

 Contemporary Words in Sound 1969 

2 2
Box

 Poems of Protest 1970   2.0 copies.

6
Box Folder

 Three Narrative Poems 1996 

2 3

 Dame Nature; The Four Seasons 1997 

2 4

 Manuscript Collections 1927, 1968-2006 


    Box Folder Folder
Mixed Materials   2 5-8 ; 7 1-7 (Oversize) ; 8 : 1-4 (Oversize)

Box Folder

 Poems 1927, 1968-2003   5.0 folders.

7 1-5 (Oversize)

 Sacred and Devotional Poetry 1989-2004   4.0 folders.


    Box Folder Folder
Mixed Materials   7 6-7 (Oversize) ; 8 1-2 (Oversize)

Box Folder

 Poems 1997-2002 

8 3 (Oversize)

 Poems 2000-2006 

8 4 (Oversize)

 Collected Poems. Retrospective of Poems Published in Various Anthologies by the National Library of Poetry 1995-2005 

2 5

 Poems on Sexuality 1998-2003 

2 6

 Poems Published in the Beachwood Voice 2002-2006 

2 7

 Poems 1996-2004 

2 8
Box Folder

 Individual Poems 1992-2005 

2 9-15
Box Folder

 Black Diamond 2003-2005 

2 9

 My Middle Years 2000-2002 

2 10

 Objectively Disordered 1998-2003 

2 11

 Psalm of Love 2000 

2 12

 Reconstruction Suite 1992 

2 13

 Seven Last Words of Jesus 2002 

2 14

 What Do I See? no date 

2 15

 Henri de Boise 1998-1996 


    Box Folder Folder
Mixed Materials   2 16-17 ; 3 1

Box Folder

 Octette; Eight Sexually Oriented Poems 1988 

2 16

 Quite Another Place; Erotic Homosexual Fantasies in Verse 1996   4th edition.


    Box Folder Folder
Mixed Materials   2 17 ; 3 1

Box Folder

 Print copy 1996 

2 17

 Manuscript facsimile May 1996 

3 1

 Religious Writings 1988-2003 

Box Folder

 Being Gay in My Day. Dignity Angelus 1998 

3 2

 Blessings no date 

3 3

 Dignity Creed 1993 

3 4

 Evening Prayer & Patristic Readings for the Five Wednesdays of Lent. Dignity/Los Angeles 1992 

3 5

 Exultet no date 

3 6

 Gift of the Magi--Revisited 1995 

3 7

 Litany of Our Lady of Dignity. Dignity/Los Angeles 2002 

3 8

 Marian Devotion for La Familia Guadalupena no date 

3 9

 Meditations for the Traditional Hours of Prayer, Used for Centuries by Members of the Secular Franciscan Order no date 

3 10

 Morning Prayer no date 

3 11

 Noonday Prayer. Adopted for Optional use by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' Ministry with lesbian & Gay Catholics (MLGC) no date 

3 12

 Room at the Table 2003 

3 13

 St. Solicita. Brochure, Dignity Hymn, Litany, Novena 1988-1989 

3 14

 Sonnet for the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19th 2003 

3 15

 Way of the Cross; Tradition, Catholic Devotion for Lent. Dignity/Los Angeles 1994 

3 16

 Other Writings circa 1990-2005 

Box Folder

 Frog & the Scorpion (fable) no date 

3 18

 Ingenious Proposal (speech) no date 

3 19

 Senior Moments 2002-2005 

Box Folder

  2002 

3 20

  2003 

3 21

  2004 

3 22

  2005 

3 23

 Writings by Others 1968-2005 

Box Folder

 Writings by Others 1968-2004 

3 24

 Hurd, Derrick Harrison 2002-2003 

4 1

 Vos, Wesley & Tom 2004-2005 

4 2

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Series 2:  Series 2. Personal 1946-2005   0.75 linear foot.

Series Scope and Contents

This series contains materials relating to Bartron's life outside his writings. The calendars, day minders and pocket planners document his daily activities. The files contain information on his career as a pantomimist (as well as information on other mimes); his acting roles in film and television; his involvement with the Roman Catholic Church of the Blessed Sacrament, in Hollywood, Dignity/USA, and the Knights of Columbus; his activities as an advocate for housing for GLBT seniors; and his various social activities. The series also includes a small file of correspondence; diplomas, certificates and awards; several photocopies of articles on family and friends; and a folder of drawings, possibly for a children's book, by Bartron's daughter, Liz Pittenger.

Box Folder

 Acting (Film & Television) 1980-1988 

4 3

 Calendars, Day Minders & Pocket Planners 1978-2005 

Box Folder

 Calendars 1990-2005 

5 1-4
Box

 Day Minders 2001-2005   6.0 items.

6

 Pocket Planners 1978-1989, 1997   12.0 items.

6
Box Folder

 Correspondence 1995-2004 

4 4

 Diplomas, Certificates, Awards 1967-2004 

4 5

 Family & Friends 2000-2004 

4 6

 Knights of Columbus 2001-2004 

4 7

 Pantomime 1946-2004 

4 8

 Pittenger, Liz 1996-1997 

4 9

 Roman Catholic Materials 1997-2005 

Box Folder

 Bartron, Harry 1999-2003 

4 10

 Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Hollywood (Calif.) 1998-2004 

4 11

 Dignity 1998-2005 

4 12

 Miscellaneous 1997-2004 

4 13
Box Folder

 Senior Housing 1994-2003 

4 14

 Social Activities 1992-2004 

4 15

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Series 3:  Series 3. Photographs 1946-2005   0.25 linear foot.

Series Scope and Contents

This series contains photographs of Bartron, his family, and friends. The personal photographs consist primarily of 8 x 10-inch formal photographs of Bartron, and photographs of him dressed and performing as a mime. The photographs of family and friends include Bartron's son, Stephen, Vladimyr Golovin, and actors Sidney Feldman, Hal Holbrook and Alan Koss. Box 10 contains snapshops of Bartron, his family and friends; to help identify members of Bartron's family, a list of his descendants, prepared by ONE Archives staff, is included.

Box Folder

 Personal 1946-2003 

9 1

 Family & Friends circa 1950-1990 

9 2

 Photographic negative no date 

9 3
Box

 Photographs of Harry Bartron, family & friends circa 1975-2005 

10

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Series 4:  Series 4. Graphics circa 1988   1.0 print.

Series Scope and Contents

This series consists of a single item, a framed color print of an icon, by Robert Lentz, of "St. Solicita", the name given by the Los Angeles chapter of Dignity/USA to the Canaanite woman referred to in Matthew 15:21-28, and "adopted" by the chapter as its patron saint.

Box

 Icon of St. Solicita, by Robert Lentz circa 1988   1 print ; 17 x 14 inches (framed) ; color.

11
Box Folder

 You Can Be A Bird, But You Can't Fly. Dignity/USA Convention 1997 

3 17

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