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Community Organizing Archive

Joint project of the University Library and Swearer Center for Public Service. Comprised of archival and manuscript papers of activists (with a focus on Brown alumni) engaged in public service through non-governmental organizations.

Oral Histories of Community Organizing

COA collection guides/finding aids

Beckwith (David) Papers, 1946-2008
The David Beckwith papers is a significant collection of organizational records, correspondence, publications, training and funding materials relating to community development and organizing on both the local and national levels. Most of the material dates from 1980 to 1999 and represents the work of a wide range of community organizations, advocacy-based coalitions, governmental agencies and private organizations devoted to fulfilling social needs such as housing, transportation and education. The Papers also include a small but noteworthy collection of counter-culture newspapers from the mid-1960's and early 1970's.

Chinn (Susan) papers, 1973 - 1981
Documents collected and used by Susan Chinn during her time as an employee of Massachusetts Fair Share whose function is grass-roots community organizing for low and moderate income people for the state of Massachusetts. The collection includes training manuals, Fair Share publications, an essay on the history of the organization, and documentation about the internal workings of the organization. Of particular note is a letter written by Susan Chinn in 1979 describing her experience being hired for Fair Share and her first weeks of work in the community of Springfield, MA.

Cohen (Robert F., Jr.) Papers, 1952-1984
The Robert F. Cohen, Jr. papers relate to his activist work as a student at Brown from 1964-1968, and as a community organizer in Providence and other Rhode Island communities, and New York City around welfare rights, housing discrimination and education between 1968-1972. The collection contains original materials created in the context of this work, including press releases, research notes, minutes of meetings, leaflets, and other organizing materials, as well as news clippings covering the actual events. There is also an extensive collection of publications from progressive organizations.

Community Organizer Genealogy Project oral history interviews, 2007-2011
The Community Organizer Genealogy Project was a special project of Center for Community Change to document the development of community organizing, the development of individual organizers and the connections among organizers, organizations and networks. They conducted video oral history interviews with 100 individuals and collected biographical data on community organizers throughout the United States from 2008-2010.  The interviews have been digitized for the Brown Digital Repository, where they may be freely viewed.  Further information on the collection and the project may be found in the online finding aid.

Dickson (James C.) Papers, 1988-2002
These papers document the career of James C. Dickson (Class of 1968) as an activist and organizer for disabled individuals, primarily with the VOTE! 2000 Campaign, an effort to increase the number of voters with disabilities. Includes materials Dickson used in his efforts to increase the voting rights of disabled persons and their access to polling places. The materials contain information on poll accessibility, black voters, gay and lesbian voters, voting statistics, the motor voter law, election reforms, methods of voting, and the registration of potential voters when they apply for food stamps, Medicaid or a driver's license. Also consists of material documenting other organizing efforts involving the rights of children, especially children with disabilities, and the medical care of the elderly and people with disabilities.

French American Charitable Trust (FACT) records, 1986-2011
The French American Charitable Trust was founded in 1990 by the Feeney family, a family with roots in France and the United States, to address fundamental inequalities and injustices in society. Their mission was to help develop and sustain networks of community-based groups in the United States and France that educate, organize, and empower people to actively participate in developing public policies that directly affect their lives. They spent all of the money in the endowment between 1990 and 2012 and closed the foundation in 2012.

Galdston (Kenneth A.) papers
These materials document the education and career in community organizing of Kenneth A. Galdston (Brown, 1968). Over the course of his career, Galdston was a community organizer in North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Buffalo, New York; Naugatuck Valley, Connecticut; Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts; and, as the lead organizer of the InterValley Project, helped leaders and organizers build additional community organizations elsewhere in Massachusetts and in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. The collection contains literature on community organizing, detailed meeting notes, periodicals, class notes from Brown University, newspaper clippings, and appointment books.

Needmor Fund Records, 1975-2005
he Needmor Fund is a family foundation established in Toledo, Ohio in 1956 by Duane and Virginia Stranahan with income from the Champion Spark Plug business. It focuses on funding community organizing efforts to create a more equitable and just society. The records document the activities of the Needmor Fund from the the 1970's to the early 21st century and include correspondence, grant applications, pamphlets, seminar brochures, notes from site visits, speeches, and publications. Within the Needmor Fund Collection, the Kathy Partridge papers include material related to gay and lesbian issues.

Rhode Island Disability Vote Project Records, 2006-2008
James deBoer, Class of 2005, served as the coordinator of the Rhode Island Disability Vote Project (RIDVP). This collection includes notes of the daily organizational activities between 2006 and 2008, meeting notes, planning notes, and a spreadsheet listing one-to-one calls.

Henry Shelton and George Wiley Center Records, 1968-2009
The Henry Shelton and George Wiley Center records reflects the mission of Shelton and the George Wiley Center to empower people to create social and economic justice through changes in public policy. The focus of the work has been the following issues affecting low-income populations: utility access and affordability, fair housing, labor unions, childhood poverty, and preventing hunger. Major programs include the Rhode Island Campaign to Eliminate Childhood Poverty, Rhode Island Parents for Progress, and the Fund for Community Progress. These materials also reflect the work of Shelton to lobby and partner with the Rhode Island Governor’s office, Representatives and Senators at the state and federal levels, and community groups of all types.

Related collections at the John Hay Library

ACT UP Rhode Island Records, 1987-1995
The ACT UP Rhode Island (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) records contain minutes of meetings, correspondence, financial records, reports, booklets, handbooks, pamphlets, clippings, mailings, newsletters, conference material, publications, lists of members and contacts, ACT UP/RI circulars and posters, photographs and clippings of ACT UP demonstrations, documentation of Rhode Island legislation, regulations, and policies concerning AIDS. Also included are AIDS-related materials from other ACT UP groups, especially New York, and various gay and lesbian groups, both in Rhode Island and nationally. Topical files document developments in AIDS treatment, public health issues, government policy, AIDS activism, and various gay/lesbian issues. There are also three painted plywood panels and one cloth banner in the collection.

Brown-Tougaloo Exchange Records, 1961-1989
The Brown-Tougaloo Exchange records contain correspondence, reports, financial data, grant proposals, teaching materials, tape recordings and press clippings produced by or about Tougaloo College and its exchange program with Brown University. The collection also includes financial and documentary material about the U.S. Higher Education Act of 1965, especially its Title III, Institutional Aid.

Glass (Jodi L.) Papers, 1978-2002
The Jodi L. Glass papers provide rich documentation of the inner workings of feminist organizations and movements in Rhode Island and beyond. Included in the collection are the correspondence, essays, news clippings, legislation, agendas, and minutes of a number of groups and movements, including the Rhode Island Feminist Chorus, Feminist Resources Unlimited and the anti-pornography movement.

Hall-Hoag collection of dissenting and extremist printed propaganda
Contains documents representing a broad spectrum of militant political, social and religious dissent in the United States, from the post-World War II period to the present. The Collection currently exceeding 168,000 items emanating from over 5,000 organizations, constitutes the country's largest research collection of right and left wing U.S. extremist groups, from 1950 to 1999.

Pichey (Miriam) Papers, 1966-1972
Miriam Dale (Mimi) Pichey, originally from California, entered Pembroke College in 1968 and graduated in 1971.  She quickly became involved in the radical political activities of the period.  Of special importance to her when she donated these papers was her involvement in the abortion rights and women's liberation movements.   For more biographical information, see her oral history interview in the University Archives.

Rhode Island Feminist Theater, 1973-1984
Theatre group founded in 1973 in Providence, Rhode Island. Members often collaborated on the writing of plays. Performances were given in Providence, Boston, and on national tour. The collection includes scripts, publicity, reviews, articles, promotional and touring material, posters, playbills, photographs, and other files.

Rhode Island Women's Health Collective Archive
Founded in 1975 by Hilary Ross Salk (Brown University class of 1963), Carol Regan Shelton, and Elizabeth Edgerly, for the purpose of changing the way women's health care was provided in Rhode Island.  Financial, legal, funding, and donor records, mailing lists, newletters and publications relating to women's health issues; includes audio and vdeo tapes.