Founded in 1952, One Institute, formerly ONE Archives Foundation, is the oldest active LGBTQ+ organization in the country, dedicated to telling LGBTQ+ history and stories through education, arts, and social justice programs. Our one-of-a-kind exhibitions and public programs connect LGBTQ+ history and contemporary culture to effect social change. Through unique K-12 teacher trainings, lesson plans, and youth mentorship programs, we empower the next generation of teachers and students to bring queer history into classrooms and communities. As the independent community partner of ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, we promote the largest collection of LGBTQ+ materials in the world.
The curatorial and educational choices made by One Institute are guided by our commitment to social equity and justice. We engage with the complexity of LGBTQ+ history and representation through highlighting the intersectional narratives of Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), women, gender- nonconforming and transgender people, people of various abilities, youth, and elders across all socio-economic classes.
Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @oneinstitutela.
Out of our commitment to social equity and justice, we tell the stories of the LGBTQ community and its history. We engage with the complexity of queer history and representation through highlighting the intersectional and authentic narratives of Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), women, gender-nonconforming and transgender people, people of various abilities, youth, and elders across all socio-economic classes.
We work in partnership both within our community and outside it in ways that foster trust and long-term relationships among groups. We seek to encourage understanding and empathy among our constituents in order to build coalitions and create social change.
One Institute is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, City of West Hollywood, The Getty Foundation, California Arts Council, LA Arts Recovery Fund, California Humanities, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and Dwight Stuart Youth Fund.
In October 1952, several members of the Mattachine Society, including educator and activist W. Dorr Legg, formed ONE, Inc.. In January 1953, ONE, Inc. published the inaugural issue of ONE Magazine, the first widely distributed LGBTQ+ publication in the United States.
The Los Angeles postal authorities seized the August 1953 and October 1954 issues of ONE Magazine on charges of obscenity simply for publishing articles, editorials, short stories, book reviews, and letters to the editor from a queer perspective. ONE, Inc. decided to fight these charges.
Four years of litigation with the postal authorities brought the ONE Magazine case to the nation’s highest court. In 1958, the landmark Supreme Court case, ONE, Inc. v. Olesen, determined that ONE Magazine was not in violation of obscenity laws, becoming the first ruling to deal with homosexuality and the first to address free speech rights with respect to LGBTQ+ people.
In 1956, while still in litigation, ONE, Inc. founded One Institute as the educational arm of the organization. One Institute conducted seminars, published a journal, and eventually issued graduate degrees in “Homophile Studies,” demonstrating that queer and trans lives and communities were worthy of serious scholarly work.
All throughout this time, Jim Kepner, a frequent contributor to ONE Magazine and co-founder of One Institute, thoughtfully collected material related to LGBTQ+ topics, issues, and individuals. Kepner’s personal collection over the course of his life and in 1994, this collection merged with ONE Institute. This collection was donated to USC in 2010. Today, ONE Archives at USC Libraries is the largest repository of LGBTQ+ materials in the world.
In 2014 our organization renamed itself as ONE Archives Foundation and began to build robust programming that amplified the collections at ONE Archives at USC Libraries as well as developed unique K-12 educational programs and arts & cultural events related to queer and trans history.
Today, we’ve gone back to our 1950’s roots to reclaim “One Institute” as our nonprofit organization’s name with the tagline “Queer and Trans History in Action,” reflecting our present-day goals of education, advocacy, and cultural enrichment.
The idea of a magazine for homosexuals is first discussed in a Mattachine meeting.
ONE Inc. is founded.
The first issue of ONE Magazine is published.
The Los Angeles postal authorities seize the August edition of ONE Magazine. The issue, which bore the title “Homosexual Marriage?” on the cover, is released three weeks later without explanation.
ONE Inc. opens an office in downtown Los Angeles at 232 South Hill Street.
The Los Angeles postal authorities seize the October issues of ONE Magazine on charges of obscenity.
The ONE Institute for Homophile Studies opens.
January 13, 1958
After four years of litigation, the Supreme Court declares ONE Magazine is not in violation of obscenity laws.
ONE Inc. moves to 2256 Venice Boulevard.
ONE Magazine ceases publication.
Jim Kepner’s personal archive is named the Western Gay Archives.
The Western Gay Archives is renamed the National Gay Archives: Natalie Barney/Edward Carpenter Library and moves to 1654 North Hudson Avenue in Hollywood.
ONE Institute becomes the first institution of higher learning in the United States to offer masters and doctoral degrees in Homophile Studies.
ONE Inc. moves into the Milbank Estate at 3340 Country Club Drive purchased by philanthropist Reed Erickson. Soon after, for reasons uncertain, Erickson seeks to have ONE removed from the estate.
The National Gay Archives is renamed the International Gay & Lesbian Archives (IGLA).
IGLA moves to a space owned by the City of West Hollywood at 626 North Robertson Boulevard (the current location of the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum).
W. Dorr Legg dies.
ONE Inc. merges with the IGLA and becomes primarily an LGBTQ archive; the organization refers to itself as ONE Institute and ONE Institute/IGLA.
Jim Kepner dies.
ONE Institute/IGLA moves to its current location at 909 West Adams Boulevard provided by USC.
The organization is renamed ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
The collections at ONE Archives become a part of the USC Libraries.
The organization is renamed One Institute.
Image credit: ONE, Inc. promotional materials, ONE Incorporated records collection, ONE Archives at the USC Libraries