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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.

Welcome to the Community Organizing Archive

The Community Organizing Archive (COA) comprises over 100 videotaped interviews with a diverse set of community organizers and archival and manuscript papers of activists, including Brown alumni engaged in community organizing.  Community organizing is a process of building powerful organizations across lines of faith, race, ethnicity, income, geography, age, and political outlook while developing the public skills of local leaders to effect social and economic change.  By creating stable organizations accountable to their memberships, community organizing both mirrors and strengthens other democratic institutions, such as universal suffrage, honest elections, respect for the rights and autonomy of minorities, and the rule of law.

The COA was organized in 2006 by Brown alumni Bob Cohen (1968), Jim Dickson (1968), and
Ken Galdston (1968) as a joint project of the University Library and the Swearer Center for Public Service.

The COA is particularly strong in the interests of marginalized people, including but not limited to: affordable housing, better jobs, improved schools, racial equity, immigrant rights, access to healthcare, disability rights, environmental justice, and transportation.

Brown University Archives and Manuscripts, housed in the John Hay Library, has a long history of collecting material from the University and its alumni, as well as various Rhode Island groups and organizations.  Over the years, we have accumulated material regarding activists and community organizing, including the Rhode Island Feminist Theatre Archive (1973-1984), the records of the Rhode Island Women’s Health Collective (1975-1997), the records of ACT UP Rhode Island (1988-1995), and records of the Brown-Tougaloo Exchange.  Since its inauguration on April 24, 2007, the Community Organizing Archive has grown to encompass several collections.

We are pleased at the prospect of expanding the Community Organizing Archive to document the activities of Brown alumni and others in the field of community organizing and social activism.  All materials in the Community Organizing Archive are accessible at the John Hay Library to students, faculty, and researchers, both now and in the future.