M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives
M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives About these images M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives

African Americans and Civil Rights Organizations

For reference queries contact Grenander Department Reference staff or (518) 437–3935

The subject guide for Africana Studies may also be of interest.

AFRICAN AND AFRO–AMERICAN STUDIES, DEPARTMENT OF
Records, 1969–75, 3 ft. (UA–611)

Includes department chair correspondence, 1969–70; departmental meeting minutes, 1970–71, 1973–74; enrollment schedules, 1972–73; annual budgets, 1972–74; proposals; promotional materials; and faculty profiles.  Originally called the Department of Afro-American Studies when it was created in 1969, the department adopted its current name in the fall of 1974.  The department's mission was to concentrate on "urban affairs and human development" as seen through the life experience of black Americans. (Final Budget Request, 1970–71, p. 51.)


BOYD, RALPH F. (APAP-165)
Papers, 1940-1980, 2 cubic ft. (APAP–165)

The papers of Ralph Boyd document Boyd's years as an employee of General Electric in Schenectady, NY, and a member of the Schenectady Branch of the NAACP. The collection includes: General Electric manuals for foremen and on shop operations; election and other material from IUE Local 301, circa 1940s-1980; NAACP brochures and financial documents, circa 1960s-1970s; and material from the Human Rights Commission, undated.

THE BROTHERS
Records, 1966–1990, 1.4 cubic ft. (APAP–081)

Includes the following records of this African-American organization: copies of the Albany Liberator, an occasional newspaper edited by Gordon Van Ness for The Brothers, 1967–1971; newspaper clippings and ephemera, 1967–71; retained records of the Northside Advisory Council for the Northside Community Health Center, 1970–1972; materials concerning their 1990 reunion; speeches and poetry by Gordon Van Ness, undated  Organized in July 1966 with twenty–four members, The Brothers were an African-American organization focused on equal employment opportunity, welfare and work reform, programs for youth, stopping drug addiction, better education, against military conscription, and other issues of concern to the black communities in Albany, New York's Arbor Hill, North Side, and South End.

CAMPUS ACTION
Records, 1992–2006, 2.29 cubic ft. and 68 mb of electronic records (APAP–164)

Campus Action was formed in April 1992 as a multicultural, multi-issue organization with a mission to promote activism and support activist organizations on university campuses in New York’s Capital Region. It maintained eight chapters representing individual campuses as well as a central office at the Social Justice Center in Albany. The records of Campus Action contain materials collected and generated by the organization including both paper documents and electronic records. These materials include minutes, correspondence, publications, grant applications, webpages, fliers, leaflets and other handouts. The collection holds material from the Campus Action central office and does not contain material specific to the individual chapters of Campus Action. Campus Action created a number of publications for campus distribution. These include the newsletter Campus Action News, two study guides, and directories of local activist organizations and internships. These are all represented in the collection, along with materials from the biannual conferences held to help organize activism, primarily as paper documents with some additional later material in electronic form. The case of Ali Yaghi, an Albany resident and owner of a pizza shop who was arrested just days after 9/11, is also documented in the collection.

CAPITAL AREA COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
Records, 1941–2002, 9 cubic ft. (APAP–129)
The Capital Area Council of Churches (CACC) was founded in 1941. The federation was intended to encompass, absorb, coordinate and extend the community service and ministry functions of several existing organizations. The majority of records in this collection are board minutes (with organizational constitutions, Director's Reports, and some committee minutes) reports, newsletters, administrative files, subject files, and some correspondence. There is also a collection of clippings from local newspapers. Well structured documentation, in the form of meeting minutes, of the formative period of the organization allow for a determination of the principle factors, both human and situational, for the genesis of the CACC. There are numerous sources (minutes, newsletters, annual reports) of the names of individuals and the roles they played in the organization; names, locations, size, relative prosperity and denomination of member congregations; and information pertaining to the other groups, individuals, and organizations which provided services in the Capital District. Many of the records show the degree to which the organization was concerned and involved with issues and events of local, national and international concern including World War II, the anti-Communist fervor, the Civil Rights Movement, the Abortion debate, the evolution of the State University of New York system, urban blight, and fair housing.

CAPITAL DISTRICT COALITION AGAINST APARTHEID & RACISM (CDCAAR)
Records, 1981–1995, 6 reels of microfilm (APAP–011)

Contains newspaper articles, newsletters, legal papers and correspondence relating to the group's protest against the Springboks (South Africa's then all–white rugby team) game that was scheduled to take place in Albany, NY on September 21, 1981, and to court cases that grew out of the protests; correspondence, minutes, and reports relating to CDCAAR's struggle against apartheid in South Africa (especially related to a campaign to force NYS to divest pension funds invested in South Africa and a boycott of South African performers); and also documenting the organization's struggles against police abuse in Albany N.Y. (particularly the Jessie Davis case).  Also includes a 1995 history of CDCAAR written by Vera Michelson. Includes a small group of papers from the Northeast Southern Africa Solidarity Network and the African National Congress. Founded in 1981 as an inter–racial group opposed to Apartheid, the group changed its name in 1995 to the Capital District Coalition for Southern Africa and Against Racism.

CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE
Records, 1985–2000, 12.75 cubic ft. (APAP–072)

The Center for Law and Justice was created in 1985, an outgrowth of community outcries after Jessie Davis, a young black man was shot and killed by police in his apartment in Albany, New York. The Center for Law and Justice, Inc. was first called the Albany Justice Center, Inc. The collection is extensive and includes documents such as grant proposals, newspaper clippings, membership information, financial statements, photographs, legal documents about the Davis case and the ensuing lawsuit, and conference information. The collection also includes information on various prisoner cases that the Center was working on and letters from prisoners throughout the state. Materials include prisoner intake information and correspondence and copies of the Center's publications, scrapbooks about the Davis case and board meeting minutes.

EMPIRE STATE FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS
Records, 1938–1991, 3.46 cubic ft. (APAP–041)

Includes minutes of board meetings, 1938–1965, 1973–1985; president's correspondence, 1963–1964, 1973–1977; financial and membership records, 1948–1965; and annual convention programs, 1956–1987. This association of African-American women's clubs in New York State was founded in 1908 in Brooklyn, New York to promote the education of women, protect the rights of working women and children, advance the quality of family life, and contribute to interracial understanding. The federation is affiliated with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs and the Northeast Federation of Women's Clubs.

GREEN, ALICE P.
Papers, 1960–2001, 1.89 cubic ft. (APAP–136)

The collection is particularly strong in following Dr. Green's media appearances throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Issues of The South End Scene, a newspaper Dr. Green founded as executive director of the Albany–based youth and family services center the Trinity Institution are also included in the collection. The collection contains papers and other materials relating to Dr. Green's 1998 run for Lieutenant Governor of New York State on the Green Party ticket. The collection also follows the progress of Law Never Here, a book Dr. Green co–wrote with Dr. Frankie Bailey which was published in 1999. Items of interest are found in the small correspondence series, which includes letters from New York Senator and former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former mayor of New York, Thomas Whalen III, and comedian Richard Pryor.

M. C. LAWTON CIVIC AND CULTURAL CLUB
Records, 1921–1995, 1.33 cubic ft. (APAP–027)

Contains minute books and membership rosters, 1927–1977; correspondence, 1921–1977; and official publications, 1954–1987. In 1919, this African-American women's club was founded in Albany, New York with the goal of "community service, educational advancement, race relations and self development" by sponsoring lectures by Cullen and other prominent people and protesting housing discrimination. It was named after Maria C. Lawton, president of the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs, 1916–1926, with which it has always been affiliated.

MATHERS, JOHN J.
Papers, 1967-1996, 14 cubic ft. (APAP–107)

John L. Mathers was Assistant to the Chancellor of the SUNY System in the 1960s and 1970s, later becoming Associate Vice Chancellor for Continuing Education, and retiring as Chair of the SUNY Small Business Development Council in the early 1990s. As Assistant to the Chancellor, Mathers was assigned special projects to spearhead. In the late 1960s he was heavily involved in efforts to document, understand, and stem unrest in the SUNY System caused by the anti-war movement, the stresses involved in introducing large numbers of persons of color into the System, and the stresses caused by a rapidly expanding SUNY System and student involvement in governance. He retained most of his day file correspondence from his service, as well as copies of much of the record relating to the controversies at Stony Brook, New Paltz, Buffalo State, UB, and Albany. In 1971 his position was elevated to Executive Assistant to the Chancellor where he was lead liaison with the staff of the governor and chief legislative leaders for developing the System's priorities. In the 1970s Mathers was point person for studies of the economic impact of the System (1971-73), the transformation of the D & H Building into SUNY Central Headquarters (1973-74), and was involved in much of the negotiations for the establishment of the Empire State Youth Theatre (1974-81) and the SUNY Russian Student Exchange Program (1977). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as Associate Vice Chancellor for Continuing Education he was also involved in overseeing the NYNET, the SUNY television system. In the 1980s and 1990s, Mathers'primary focus was on developing the NYS Small Business Development Center, voluminously documented in his papers.

MELICH, TANYA M.
Papers, 1950–2000, 19.48 cubic ft. (APAP–079)

The Tanya Melich Papers are particularly strong in documenting the political scene in the 1960s and 1970s both nationally and within New York State. The Papers include extensive reports related to political candidates, voting statistics, and political and social issues. The vast amount of material comes from her work on campaigns, the ABC–News Election Unit, and the Ripon Society. The main focus of the collection is the Republican Party's policies, candidates, and strategies. The Papers also document Melich's concern and work regarding relevant social issues. Her work with the New York City Partnership, United States Commission on Civil Rights New York State Advisory Board, and International Women's Year are documented in the collection. Her interest in women's rights, equality, and reproductive freedom can be assessed through the numerous folders in the Subject Files, her writings, and the collection of publications regarding these issues.

MINORITIES AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CENTER ON
Records, 1977–82, 1.33 cubic ft. (UA–359)
Includes staff meeting minutes, 1977–78; correspondence, 1977–81; memoranda, 1977–81; grant proposals, 1977–81; budgets, 1978–81; and published bibliographies and studies on minorities and the criminal justice system, 1979–81. Part of the School of Criminal Justice, the Center was founded in 1980 as a continuation of the Training Program in Criminal Justice Education, which had begun in 1977. The Center's goals were to administer the Minority Fellowship Program and conduct research relating to minorities and criminal justice. Dependent on outside funding, the center closed around 1982 or 1983 when its grant was not renewed. The records of the Center are described as part of the School of Criminal Justice's finding aid.

NAACP, ALBANY BRANCH
Records, 1968–1987, 3.2 cubic ft. (APAP–074)

The collection includes minutes, 1977–1978; case files, 1973–1981, and; news clippings, 1968–1975. Chiefly files of Harry Hamilton as chapter president of this civil rights group chartered in 1935 to increase opportunities for and combat racial discrimination against African Americans. This local chapter has been active in affecting change through public awareness, demonstrations, and legislative reform.

NAACP, SCHENECTADY BRANCH
Records, 1949–1982, 4 reels of microfilm (APAP–028)

Records include Executive Committee minutes, 1949–1982 (missing December 1959–January 1963); membership meeting minutes, 1949–1980 (missing January 1963–1972, 1973 [only one meeting found], 1974, October 1975–April 1976); membership lists, 1949–1980; correspondence, 1949–1980; financial records, 1949–1979 (missing 1960–1962, 1966–1976). The Schenectady, NY Branch of the NAACP was founded in 1949 by an interracial group of men and women committed to the task of improving the status of African Americans in the area. Records document their concerns for discrimination in housing and employment and for the recruitment of black professionals from colleges and universities to the area. The role of women in the NAACP, Schenectady Branch, can be found in the records, and in 1959, the Branch's first female president, Malinda Myers, was elected. The records also show the Branch's involvement with area social service providers, labor unions, and other community organizations, as well as with General Electric, as the area's major employer.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK SOCIAL WORKERS, CAPITAL DISTRICT CHAPTER
Records, 1970–1974, 1981–1985, 1991, .17 cubic ft. (APAP–096)

The records primarily document the organization's history in the early 1970s and the early 1980s. The organization's founding is well documented by meeting minutes, correspondence, and the group's constitution and by–laws. The most complete documentation of the organization is during the early 1970s. The collection includes sporadic coverage of membership lists, legislative issues of interest to the organization, and programs organized by the group. The collection also includes single copies of the Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW) newsletter, the NABSW newsletter, and Black Caucus the Journal of the National Association of Black Social Workers.

PAGE, CAROLINE SMITH, student, educator
Family Papers, 1780–2000, .17 cubic ft. (UA–802.008)
The Caroline Smith Page papers consists of a nine page typed transcription of the autobiography of Caroline Smith Page, two photographs of Caroline Smith Page, ca. 1867 and 1890, a photo of Stephen R. Page ca. 1890, a photo of the Page farmstead in Boone, Iowa, a copy of Stephen Rice Page's obituary from the Boone County Democrat, August 29, 1894, and the transmittal letter of Anne and Edward McCarthy accompanying the deposit. There is a brief description of Caroline Smith’s education in the first class of the New York State Normal School at Albany, where she graduated in September 1845, and her subsequent teaching in public school in Troy, NY for four years. Of particular interest to researchers is Caroline Page Smith’s description of racial relations in the South (5 typescript pages) after being hired to teach in the Natchez Institute in Mississippi in 1849. This collection was digitized to allow all researchers online access to its contents through the online finding aid.

QUIRINI, HELEN
Papers, 1941–1998, 30 cubic ft. (APAP-102)
A portion of the finding aid is now available documenting Quirini's work at General Electric (GE) in Schenectady, her involvement with UE and IUE Local 301 the union at the GE plant, and her work with community organizations in Schenectady.

SIGMA PI PHI, BETA PSI BOULE (APAP–333)
Records, 1983–2013, 7.2 cubic ft. (APAP–333)

The Sigma Pi Phi, Beta Psi Boulé Records document the history of the Albany chapter of the nation’s oldest Greek-letter organization comprised of college-educated and professional African-American men. Founded in Philadelphia in 1904, the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity is referred to as the Boulé and has more than 5,000 members and 119 chapters across the United States and Caribbean. The Beta Psi Boulé was established in 1984 and has been active in and supportive of the Capital District community for more than a quarter century. The collection contains administrative records, including meeting agendas and minutes, correspondence, conference materials, photographs, subject files, and the organization’s national publication The Boulé Journal.

SOCIAL JUSTICE CENTER
Records, 1981-2001, 4.3 cubic feet, 19 VHS tapes, approximately 600 KB of electronic records (APAP–177)

The Social Justice Center (SJC) was formed in 1981 by an alliance of non-profit activist organizations in order to provide a central location, office space, and basic services for activist groups in Albany, New York. Projects of the Center include the Dismantling Racism project, which sponsors workshops to address the roots of racial prejudice, the PCB/Environmental Health project, which works to educate the community about potential toxins, and the Infoshop, a lending library that stocks progressive periodicals and books. The records of the Social Justice Center include financial records, meeting minutes, publications, fliers, grant proposals, photographs, and correspondence. There are also materials generated by the operation of the store Peace Offerings. The history, goals, and operations of the organization are well represented in the Administrative Files series. Histories of the center can be found in the 1991 board retreat material. The Peace Offering series primarily contains promotional materials such as signs and displays. There is little material in this collection from the member groups of the SJC. There is a small amount of administrative materials from the Centro de Progresso group and a folder of materials from the creation of the Institute for Farmworker Justice.

STUDER, NORMAN
Papers, 1817–1988 (APAP–116)
Papers of Norman Studer, educator, folklorist, and writer. The papers primarily document Studer's activities as an educator at the Little Red School House/Elisabeth Irwin High School, an educator and administrator at the Downtown Community School, founder and Director of Camp Woodland, and his various writing projects. The papers reflect Studer's two principal life–long interests: progressive education and folklore. The collection is particularly strong in its representation of Catskill folklore and folk music, including manuscript material, photographs, reel–to–reel audio recordings, and 16mm movies documenting interviews with indigenous Catskill informants, folk festivals, and life at Camp Woodland. Studer was an early advocate of incorporating African American studies in his curriculum, and later in the role of director, at both the Downtown Community School and Camp Woodland. He also sought to cultivate and nurture equal opportunity enrollment. The inclusive dates of the collection are 1817–1988, with the bulk of the material dating 1952–1978.

URBAN LEAGUE OF NORTHEASTERN NEW YORK
Records, 1966–1987, 8.5 cubic ft. (APAP–008)

Correspondence, memoranda, minutes of meetings, subject files, official publications, and other records of this multi–cultural community organization. Since its establishment in 1966, the Urban League of the Albany N.Y. Area has campaigned for voter registration, housing, education, social services and other issues of concern to African Americans and others in the New York State Capital District. Includes some reports, memoranda, and other records of the National Urban League (Washington, D.C.) and its Northeastern Regional Office (New York City).

VERSATILE CLUB OF TROY, NY
Records, 1936–1989, .4 cubic ft. (APAP–040)

Contains drafts of official meeting minutes, 1945–1988; anniversary brochures and histories, 1956, 1982; by–laws, 1939, 1986; financial documents, 1950–1988; some photographs; social programs; biographical statements about members. Organized in 1931 as the Girls' Versatile Club of Troy under the direction of Rev. D. H. White of the A.M.E. Zion Church to strengthen "religious ties" and "provide an outlet for good clean fun," the club adopted its present name in 1947. This African–American women's social club has contributed to church repairs, sponsored African-American entertainers, provided scholarship support for college students and, since the 1960s, sponsored "Ladies of Leisure and Career Women's Luncheons," bringing major African-American speakers to the area.

YWCA OF ALBANY, NEW YORK
Records, 1863–1996, 20.21 cubic ft. (APAP-137)

The collection documents the history of the YWCA of Albany, which was founded in 1888 by a group of women led by Mrs. Acors Rathbun in order to provide housing and recreational activities for young women searching for work. Through the years, the organization expanded to include classes, childcare, athletics, essay contests, teen issue programs, and an annual awards dinner honoring women. Strengths include the extensive photographic material and meeting minutes from the board of trustees and directors. The collection is weakest at the beginning and end of the YWCA of Albany's existence.


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