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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 718

Papers of Mark Ethan Smith, 1940-2019


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discrimination case against the United States Navy Department and related legal actions, correspondence, published and unpublished writings, photographs, memorabilia, and the Foundation for Role Equity Education web site.


  • Creation: 1940-2019


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

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.


10.8 linear feet ((23 + ½ file boxes, 2 card boxes) plus 4 photograph folders, 2 supersize folders, 1 archived web site.)
27.4 Megabytes (1 MP3 file)

The papers of Mark Ethan Smith 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contains personal financial statements and tax forms; course work from various educational programs; published and unpublished writings, including letters to the editor; and professional and personal correspondence.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.

Additional material received in 2012 and 2019 (accession numbers 2012-M139, 2012-M176, 2019-M20) were added to the collection in April 2019. These materials are housed in #23.1-26.12m, E.1. All other files remain in the same order. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1940-2019 (#1.1-3.11, 23.1-23.19, 21CB.1-21CB.10, SD.1-SD.2), contains calendars; educational materials (course listings, grades, and course work 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, including Smith's passport; and personal correspondence. Correspondence includes letters from Smith's daughter Kelita where she writes about the challenges she faced growing up with her grandparents. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, LEGAL, 1961-2019 (#3.12-18.16, 23.20-25.3), 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, psychiatric 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. Also included in this series are court filings relating to Smith's complaints against the Housing Development Partners of San Diego, a non-profit corporation which purchased the apartment building where Smith lived. Among Smith's complaints against the company was their conversion of the building to a non-smoking facility, infringing on Smith's rights as a smoker. These cases against the manager and landlord of the building were both dismissed in court. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series III, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, WRITINGS, AND RELATED, 1970-2012 (#18.17-20.24, 25.4-26.9, E.1-E.2), contains papers related to Smith's professional and avocational interests, including a ham radio license application; research material regarding Lise Meitner, the woman who discovered nuclear fission; and writings by Smith, including essays, articles, book reviews, poems, and letters to the editor. Smith's writings, which relate to gender, culture, and politics, were sometimes published, including in the women's journal Sojourner. 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 issues 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 Schlesinger Library's web archiving program. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS AND MEMORABILIA, ca.1970-ca.2015 (#20.25m-20.27m, 26.10m-26.12m, PD.1-PD.4, 22CB.1m-22CB.4m), contains photographs of Smith, daughter Kelita, and parents and friends. Of note is a photograph of Ken Kesey taken at the University of Oregon. 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 digitized and available online.


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 Jane Smith, who was born June 11, 1961 and raised by Smith's parents. A second daughter from another relationship, Janet Smith, 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 ( that contained political and social commentary, and was living in San Diego, California. Around this time Smith accused the management company at his apartment complex of mismanagement and elder abuse. After the charges were dismissed in court, Smith decided to move to Mexico in March 2019.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1940-2019 (#1.1-3.11, 23.1-23.19, 21CB.1-21CB.10, SD.1-SD.2)
  2. Series II. Legal, 1961-2019 (#3.12-18.16, 23.20-25.3)
  3. Series III. General correspondence, writings, and related, 1970-2012 (#18.17-20.24, 25.4-26.9, E.1-E.2)
  4. Series IV. Photographs and memorabilia, ca.1970-ca.2015 (#20.25m-20.27m, 26.10m-26.12m, PD.1-PD.4, 22CB.1m-22CB.4m)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 98-M152, 98-M188, 98-M198, 98-M213, 2001-M162, 2003-M28, 2007-M10, 2009-M60. Accession numbers: 2012-M139, 2012-M176, 2019-M20 were added in April 2019.

The papers of Mark Ethan Smith were given were given to the Schlesinger Library by Mark Ethan Smith between 1998 and 2019.

Processing Information

Processed: September 2012

By: Laura Peimer

Updated and additional materials added: April 2019

By: Laura Peimer, with the assistance of Ashley Thomas.

Smith, Mark Ethan, 1940- . Papers of Mark Ethan Smith, 1940-2019: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by Radcliffe Class of 1956 and the Mary Mitchell Wood Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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