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Finding Aid for the Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde papers, 1920-2001
1945  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde papers
    Date (inclusive): 1920-2001
    Collection number: 1945
    Creator: Reid, Ruth 1903-1981
    Extent: 6 document boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde were both authors and lovers for over forty years. Their correspondence documents the changing political landscape of the twentieth century as well as their intellectual development and personal relationships. For most of their relationship Kent Hyde, a woman, passed as a man. Poetry, correspondence and interviews are contained in the collection.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Language of the Material: Materials are in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Provenance unknown. This collection is part of an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) and the UCLA Library.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Stacy Wood, 2011.

    Sponsor

    The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive  at UCLA is an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives , the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW)  and the UCLA Library . These collections expand the pool of primary source materials available to researchers and to the community at large. This partnership was initiated by CSW and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to inventory, organize, preserve, and digitize more than eighty Mazer collections pertaining to lesbian and feminist activism and writings.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde papers (Collection Number 1945). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Biography/History

    Ruth Reid was born Ruth Hatch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1903. She was born to a conservative family and in her teenage years left to live with her half brother and his wife in Greenville, South Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina to study literature. At the University of North Carolina she met a gentleman by the name of Edgar, a German Jewish professor of philosophy. They were married in 1926 and moved to Hamburg after Edgar secured a teaching position there. Ruth pursued her Phd but never finished. Edgar left Germany in 1933 as Hitler came to power, but Ruth stayed until 1934 and carried on an affair with a Jewish doctor named Dena.
    Upon returning to the United States, Ruth began attending the Moody Bible Institute in North Carolina, eventually leaving to work as a missionary to Jewish immigrants in Cincinatti. After leaving missionary service she married a Mr. Reid and moved to Northern California with him and his sister in the late 1930's in order to take care of them. Shortly after she met Kent Hyde at Berkeley, where she was working as a lab technician and Ruth was reading to blind students for extra money.
    Ruth and Kent lived in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Fairfax, Oakland and briefly in upstate New York. They had four years alone together before Kent's mother moved in with them so that they could care for her. According to Ruth, Kent's mother hated Ruth and refused to acknowledge their relationship as she was a Free Methodist. She lived with Ruth and Kent for fourteen years.
    Despite the time period and location in which they lived, Ruth and Kent were not active participants in the gay movement. Ruth in fact has very few recollections of the time period related to gay activism or issues.
    Kent Hyde identified as a communist for a brief time and so followed activities of Joseph McCarthy and the House Un American Activities Committee. Throughout the 1950's, Kent and Ruth owned and operated a weaving shop called Reid-Hyde Handweaving in San Francisco doing both piecework and wholesale bulk items. Ruth had learned weaving during her time in Germany and brought the skills to bear at a time when they were both out of work. Both Ruth and Kent wrote constantly. Kent was a poet, published as early as the 1920's. Ruth never finished her novel.
    In 1951, Kent had her first attack of rheumatoid arthritis, paralyzing her temporarily. She continued to suffer from it until her death in 1968. Ruth and Kent had been together for twenty nine years.
    During Kent's illness in the late 1950's, Ruth began an affair with their close friend Ruth 'Rudy' Babcock, an occurrence which devastated Kent. Ruth and Rudy found an apartment together and Kent checked into a mental hospital in St. Helena. Upon his release, he moved in with Ruth and Rudy and shortly thereafter Ruth and Kent moved out again and found an apartment. The affair ended, but Rudy remained a friend to Ruth until her death in 1981. In her later years, Ruth became involved in the lesbian community. She worked on her writing in women's writing groups and developed supportive circles in the Berkeley area. Although her work was never published in its entirety, her autobiography Dark Birth was published in excerpts in The Wild Iris, Gay Old Girls and In the Life. A version of Dark Birth, excerpted and with notes from Jacqueline Marie is available under the title Wife of a Lesbian.

    Chronology

    1903 Ruth Reid born, Salem, MA.
    1904 Kent Hyde born, Portland, OR.
    1926 Ruth Reid moves to Hamburg.
    1934 Ruth Reid returns to the United States, attends Moody Bible Institute.
    1939 Kent Hyde and Ruth Reid meet in Berkeley.
    1968 Kent Hyde dies.
    1981 Ruth Reid dies.

    Scope and Content

    This collection includes the materials of three different individuals: Ruth Reid, Kent Hyde and Ruth 'Rudy' Babcock. Ruth Reid's materials contain her unpublished manuscripts, letters, diary entries and recordings of her reading and being interviewed. Kent Hyde's materials include some published work, unpublished work and letters. Ruth 'Rudy' Babcock's materials include letters, drawings and unpublished collaborative work with Ruth Reid.
    Despite the time period and location in which they lived, Ruth and Kent were not active participants in the gay movement. Ruth in fact has very few recollections of the time period related to gay activism or issues. Included within the collection is a taped interview from 1981 conducted by the archivists at the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive. In it, Ruth states that Kent did not particularly like gays. She does recall two incidents in which Kent's presentation drew attention to the couple, one in which they were confronted by the police and one in which their conservative neighbors had them under police surveillance. Much of the correspondence within the collection highlights political beliefs and exchanges over a range of topics, but never explicitly to do with gay and lesbian issues. Their consistent and rich correspondence with friends and family document their lives in detail including their tastes, opinions, political beliefs and relationships with others.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Ruth Reid.
    Kent Hyde.

    Related Material

    Recordings of Kent Hyde reading poetry both his and otherwise, can be found in the Mazer Collection of Audio and Visual Materials.