Elver Amos Barker was born in Newcastle, WY in 1920. Being a specialist in organizing, he had been a social-change activist since 1942 in the non-violence movements for a warless world of brotherhood and justice for all. He was also active in the Rocky Mountain Skeptics for a rational alternative to the pseudo-sciences.
His AB in Education was from the University of Denver. His major art training in representational oils and pastels was under the late Arthur W. Palmer and Thomas Leighton in San Francisco. He had also attended workshops taught by Daniel E. Greene, Ben Konis, Mel Fillerup, and the late Merlin Enabnit and George Cherepov.
Elver was one of the early officers of the Mattachine Society and an editor of the Mattachine Review. In 1953, he lost his job at the Alameda County welfare office when a supervisor figured out that Elver was gay. He then became among the most active members of the Mattachine Society.
Out of fear for losing his job as a schoolteacher for being a gay activist, he operated under the name Carl B. Harding, which he signed to articles he wrote, letters to the editor of local newspapers and when quoted in newspaper reports. "We were afraid we'd lose our jobs," Elver recall to Westword on the occassion of the 1999 Gay Pride Parade.
"I loved my work," Elver said of one lost job. "But one day, my supervisor said to me, 'We all live in glass houses around here.' And when he said that, I knew I was being discriminated against." Elver also edited the Mattachine Education Handbook, "a resource dedicated to fighting discriminatory policies such as a standard practice that law enforcement agencies used to illegally entrap gays."
In 1956, Elver moved to Denver to become a teacher and established a local Mattachine Society. His role with the Mattachine is documented in the book Behind the Mask of the Mattachine to released in 2006. His correspondence as a Mattachine Officer is preserved in the New York Public Library.