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MC 718

Smith, Mark Ethan, 1940- . Papers of Mark Ethan Smith, 1940-2009: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 718
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Mark Ethan Smith, 1940-
Title: Papers of Mark Ethan Smith, 1940-2009
Date(s): 1940-2009
Quantity: 9.26 linear feet (20 file boxes) plus 2 card boxes, 4 photograph folders, memorabilia, and electronic records.)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Papers of Mark Ethan Smith, a biological female who lives as a person without regard to sex, include legal files relating to Smith's discrimination case against the United States Navy Department and related legal actions, correspondence, published and unpublished writings, photographs, memorabilia, and the Foundation for Role Equity Education web site.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 98-M152, 98-M188, 98-M198, 98-M213, 2001-M162, 2003-M28, 2007-M10, 2009-M60
The papers of Mark Ethan Smith were given were given to the Schlesinger Library by Mark Ethan Smith between 1998 and 2009.

Processing Information:

Processed: September 2012
By: Laura Peimer

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mark Ethan Smith is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. During the donor's lifetime, the Schlesinger Library will not authorize the publication of quotations from the papers without the donor's prior written permission.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Mark Ethan Smith Papers, 1940-2009; item description, dates. MC 718, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


A biological female who lives as a person without regard to sex, Mark Ethan Smith was born Marcia Ellen Bazer on March 13, 1940. Smith's mother Ida was a schoolteacher and father Morris was an upholsterer; Smith's brother, Joseph, was living in Israel as of 2006. Smith attended Carle Place High School (Carle Place, New York). Smith's parents admitted him to Zucker Hillside psychiatric hospital (Glen Oaks, New York) at age sixteen; he was transferred to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, at seventeen; and was discharged from the facility at eighteen. During the next twenty-five years Smith lived an eclectic nomadic life, which included writing poetry in Greenwich Village in New York City; traveling to Mexico, Honduras, Thailand, and Afghanistan; and founding a hippie commune called Hog Farm in California. His first marriage to Francis Xavier Smith on March 1, 1960, ended in divorce one year later. They had one daughter, Kelita Smith, who was raised by Smith's parents. A second daughter from another relationship was given up for adoption. On September 8, 1981, Smith legally changed his name from Marcia Ellen Smith to Mark Ethan Smith.
While in Afghanistan in the 1970s, Smith studied medicine and volunteered at a hospital in Kabul, and in 1979 earned a bachelor of science degree through the Regents External Degree program at the University of the State of New York in Albany. In 1982 he began work as an aircraft electrician apprentice at the Naval Air Rework Facility in Alameda, California. Smith was suspended without pay in January 1984 and discharged in September of the same year. He subsequently filed suit against the Navy and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging unlawful discrimination.
By the mid-1990s, Smith had founded the Foundation for Role Equity Education and edited the organization's newsletter, "Nontraditional News." In 1998 he ran as a candidate for Coronado City Council in California, campaigning in opposition to the nuclear buildup in the area. After the 2000 election, Smith became involved with the election integrity movement and was an activist for electoral reform for the next six years. By 2006 he became an election boycott advocate and published a compilation of essays he wrote about voting entitled Consent to Tyranny: Voting in the USA. By 2012, Smith was hosting a web site (http://fubarandgrill.org) that contained political and social commentary, and was living in San Diego, California.


The collection is arranged in four series:


The papers primarily contain legal files related to Smith's case against the United States Navy Department, as well as related legal actions against the Social Security Administration and the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. In addition, the collection contains personal financial statements and tax forms; coursework from various educational programs; published and unpublished writings, including letters to the editor; and professional and personal correspondence. Where possible, the original folder titles have been maintained and appear in quotation marks. Remaining titles were created by the processor, who also added information in square brackets. Documents containing Smith's Social Security number were redacted. Originals are closed until January 1, 2041.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1940-1998 (#1.1-3.11, 21CB.1-21CB.10), contains calendars; educational materials (course listings, grades, and coursework from training programs completed by Smith, including those in community colleges and the Naval Air Rework Facility), some of which may have been used as evidence in the case against the United States Navy Department; financial materials, including statements and tax forms; extensive medical files, which also may have been used in court; various forms of identification; and personal correspondence. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, LEGAL, 1961-1997 (#3.12-18.16), includes papers related to Smith's harassment and discrimination case against the United States Navy Department and the Naval Air Rework Facility in Alameda, California, and related follow-up with the Merit System Protection Board; to action against the Social Security Administration and the California Department of Rehabilitation following termination from the Naval Air Rework Facility. Included are court briefs, transcripts, evidence and rulings, correspondence, pyschiatric evaluations, and written testimonies. Also included are case files regarding an illegal eviction, bankruptcy, and divorce papers from Smith's marriage to Francis Xavier Smith. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series III, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, WRITINGS, AND RELATED, 1974-2009 (#18.17-20.24, E.1), contains papers related to Smith's professional and avocational interests, including a ham radio license application; research material regarding Lisa Meitner, the woman who discovered nuclear fission; and writings by Smith, including essays, articles, and letters to the editor. Of additional note are financial statements, correspondence and an advertisement for The Sensible Thing, a short-lived, problem-solving consulting business; City Council campaign materials against the Navy's plan to bring nuclear carriers to Coronado, California; and general correspondence, which includes letters to congressmen and other officials protesting various government initiatives or programs. This series also contains e-mail correspondence with Ncoom Gabor, an Orthodox Jewish man living in Israel and a neighbor of Smith's brother, Joseph, regarding gender, ideologies, and lifestyles, and the first and only issue of "Nontraditional News," the newsletter from Smith's Foundation for Role Equity Education. The Foundation's web site was captured in 2012 as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX). The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS AND MEMORABILIA, ca.1970-1998 (#20.25m-20.27m, PD.1-PD.4, 22CB.1m-22CB.4m), contains photographs of Smith, daughter Kelita, and parents and friends. Of note is a photograph taken at the University of Oregon of Ken Kesey, who may have been an acquaintance of Smith. Memorabilia includes military pins and epaulets from Smith's service in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary in the early 1990s.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Discrimination in employment--United States
Electronic records
Gender identity--United States
Gender identity--Law and legislation--United States
Legal documents
Military decorations
Sexual harassment--United States
Web sites
Alameda Naval Air Station (Calif.)--Officials and employees
Foundation for Role Equity Education
United States. Department of Health and Human Services--Trials, litigation, etc.
United States. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission--Trials, litigation, etc.
United States. Navy--Trials, litigation, etc.